“High fuel costs are leading many companies to create teleworking programs that put more money in employees’ pockets without increasing their salaries,” said Doug Michaelides, vice president global marketing at Mitel, sponsor of the U.S. Unified Communications Trends Survey. “We believe this has been a big driver of the recent acceleration of customer interest in our unified communications solutions as employers seek to retain employees while holding the line on salary increases.” That pressure is demonstrated throughout the economy, according to human resources consultant Hewitt Associates, which just released a study that reveals virtually flat base pay raises across the U.S. ( www.hewitt.com).
Such sentiments have a direct impact on company’s financial performance. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that the average cost of replacing an employee – including advertising, relocation, travel, agency fees, and benefits – now exceeds $7,000. Moreover, 64 percent of teleworkers in the Mitel survey report they are more productive and generate higher quality work when working from a location other than the office.
“When you factor in productivity and the role of teleworking in recruitment and retention, it’s pretty easy to make a return-on-investment case,” said Michaelides. “Our unified communications solutions deliver the functionality of an in-office setting for off-site employees. As teleworking becomes standard corporate practice, it’s becoming a competitive tool to retain the best workforce.” According to a recent survey by WorldatWork, the percentage of American companies that offer teleworking jumped from 30 to 42 percent during the last 12 months. Rising gas prices, leading-edge technology, and the push for work-life flexibility were cited as the catalysts ( www.worldatwork.org).
Mitel’s customers have been among the early adopters of unified communications technology, and have benefited from the strong ROI of teleworkers, both in terms of financial impact and employee satisfaction. “Teleworking allowed us to change our business model by scaling back on the number of nationwide service centers to reduce overhead costs, without losing our knowledge workers. They are our keys to success,” said Lauren Johansson, manager of IP telephony services at MedQuist, a leading provider of medical transcription software technology and services. “By placing them into a virtual workforce, we reduce costs, retain the employee, and allow them to work in their own environment with all the right tools necessary to perform their job.”
The U.S. Unified Communications Survey, sponsored by Mitel, was conducted online by Zoomerang Market Research in August 2008 among 812 American white collar workers. Results for the entire survey are at http://www.mitel.com/resources/234_2636-Unified_Gen_Results-US-FINAL.pdf.
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Camille Beasley, Media