How to Green Your Workplace by Promoting Remote Working Practices

By Mike Hollier  |  Posted 2008-12-22 Print this article Print

In today's current financial and environmental climate, the need to reduce travel and green the office is becoming not only a recommended practice, but almost a responsibility and obligation. Knowledge Center contributor Dr. Mike Hollier explains how you can green your workplace by promoting remote working practices.

Going green is trendy these days, and more and more businesses are taking the environment into account in regard to their buying and operating decisions. Across the country, businesses are installing solar panels, increasing the use of recycled materials and cutting back on product consumption and travel-all in the hopes of reducing their carbon footprints. 

While these actions are of course admirable, for many the simple act of getting to work still contributes immensely to their personal and office carbon emissions. American commuters emit 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year on their way to and from work. While that staggering number alone should be enough to influence change, commuting also results in enormous economic losses for businesses. Time spent in the traffic jams caused by American commuters results in a loss of 3.7 billion hours of productivity every year, which translates to a $63.1 billion annual loss for American businesses due to wasted time and fuel.

Enable remote working practices

So, what can employers do to help remedy this money-sucking, carbon dioxide-producing situation?  Promoting and enabling remote working practices is one obvious option to help curb the pollution and costs incurred by millions of commuters. Companies are increasingly leaning toward remote working policies in an effort to cap company costs, reduce employee commuting costs, satisfy staff demands for flexibility and fulfill green credentials. Yet, there still remain a number of technology-related roadblocks that stand in the way of successful remote working, which depends on complete employee satisfaction with the remote working experience.

Clearly, today's office and access networks are able to reliably deliver the multiple applications and processes that we all need and use as part of our working day. The access networks we have at home will, of course, allow employees to work remotely. However, for the remote working employee, the experience starts to fall apart when it comes to real-time voice and video-based applications, such as IP telephony and video conferencing-both of which are becoming more widespread and are proving harder to maintain on the corporate network. Issues such as delay, noise, echo and picture blocking negatively affect the quality of experience on telephony and video calls, thus compromising the remote working experience.

Overcome challenges with remote workers

If workers can't effectively communicate with colleagues from their remote working site as if they were local, the attraction and experience of remote working is severely reduced-not only from the employees' perspectives but also from the support perspective. No employer has the time or resources to "fix" all the remote worker application quality issues. And from experience, they know these problems generally take a long time to resolve on the corporate network, as the tools deployed don't understand application-specific issues and how to diagnose them.

The other significant problem that is emerging today comes from the user perspective. Once remote workers suffer from quality problems, they tend to lose confidence in the technology and will revert back to using their cell phone or public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone line, defeating the original objective of deploying this new collaborative and efficient communications environment. Again, employers do not have the time or resources to try to rebuild user confidence once lost.

Dr. Mike Hollier is the CTO at Psytechnics, Ltd. Mike is a technical and commercial pioneer in perceptual engineering. Between 1990 and 1999, Mike directed BT's research into audio, video and multimedia performance assessment. Mike's PhD was gained from the University of Essex for his work on using models of human hearing to predict speech quality, contributing to the ITU-T PESQ standard. During 2000, Mike led the incubation of Psytechnics, Ltd and left BT to become the CEO. While CEO of Psytechnics, he managed the company's formation and early growth, raising further VC finance during the technology sector crash. This feat attracted an inaugural National Business Award in October 2002. Since October 2002, Mike has been the CTO, acting as a market evangelist and overseeing the R&D of a new generation of voice and video products. Mike is a Chartered Engineer, twice winner of the Alan Rudge Award for Innovation, a fellow of the University of Essex, and a member of the AES. He can be reached at

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