How organisations use ICT - 1 2b: Working practices
For AS ICT you need to know about the following working practices:
Office based working
With the introduction of better Internet communications, more and more people are now working from home rather than travelling to the office each day.
Statistics from 2005 show that 3.1 million people in the UK are regular home-based workers. Of these 2.4 million are teleworkers - people who work with computers and telecommunications to work at or from home.
The UK National Statistics agency confirms that there is no levelling off in the increase of home-based work.
Growth in homeworking and teleworking: millions and % of UK workforce: UK National Statistics Agency 2.4 (8%) 1.5 (5%) 0.9 (4%) Teleworkers 3.1 (11%) 2.6 (10%) 2.3 (9%) Homeworkers 2005 2001 1997
Suitable types of work
Telesales and marketing
Consultancy and professional services e.g. accountancy
Writing, editing, research, translation
Some administration work
A company offering home working to employees will have to consider providing the following equipment:
Workstation including suitable desk and chair.
Filing cabinet, drawers and shelving.
PC with office software, email and broadband Internet connection.
Dedicated business telephone line.
Printer and fax machine.
Stationery and office supplies.
Advantages to Employers
Smaller offices leading to lower rent, heating and lighting costs.
A wider pool of applicants from which to recruit e.g. disabled people.
Improved retention of employees.
Possible productivity gains through staff having fewer interruptions and less commuting time.
Increased staff motivation with reduced stress and sickness levels.
Advantages to Employees
Working hours will become a little more flexible. This doesn’t mean they can stay in bed until 2 in the afternoon, but certainly it could be possible to alter the times that they work depending on the job they do. This means that they can fit work around family, holidays and other commitments.
Savings on travel costs, childcare, smart work clothes.
Some people even argue that people working from home will do more work because they are surrounded in their own personal environment, which will make them happier, and therefore work harder. It's possible, but let's be honest would you do more or less work?
Disadvantages to Employers
It is much harder for a company to control and monitor their workforce if they are not in the office with them.
The company will have to pay for the hardware and software needed to run a teleworking system.
Working from home may not help to encourage a team spirit within the workers and perhaps, more importantly, a sense of loyalty from the employees.
Possible deterioration of employees skills and work quality.
Risk of information-security problems.
Initial set up costs to meet health and safety standards for disabled employees.
Disadvantages to Employees
Working from home can lead to an employee feeling a bit lonely and isolated from social contact with other human beings.
Teleworkers may find it difficult to separate home from work. If they have little kids charging around the house it's not going to be easy to get work done.
It is not always as easy to get help if you are working from home.
Case Study - FSA
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) are an independent body that regulates the financial services industry in the UK.
The FSA allows its employees to work from home occasionally, regularly and full-time.
All applications for home working will be systematically considered and will be approved at the line manager's discretion, taking into account the individual's circumstances and the needs of the organisation.
Home working will be permitted usually only to a maximum of 3 days per week or up to a maximum of 60 percent working time.
The FSA will consider whether:
functions of the role can be carried out remotely and without disruption
clear outputs can be achieved and agreed in advance
there is adequate equipment in order for the employee to carry out their work
an employee's absence will not create problems for others
Reporting and out of Office procedures for those working at home
If employees are allowed to work from home they should be contactable during the agreed working day. They must clearly indicate their "Out of Office" contact details on their FSA Outlook before leaving the office and if possible their FSA telephone number should be diverted to a mobile or landline number on home working days. If there are special or urgent meetings at the office then they should try to make themselves available.
Provision and use of equipment
Employees will need to determine in advance with their line manager that they have the necessary equipment at home to carry out the work agreed. Employees may be able to borrow/use a FSA laptop with VPN (virtual private network) remote access if needed providing there is availability, but all other equipment required will be the responsibility of the employee.
Insurance & related matters
Equipment : The FSA will pay the insurance cover for all FSA equipment.
Buildings and contents insurance : It is the responsibility of employees to provide adequate home buildings and contents insurance.
Health and Safety
The FSA has a responsibility to ensure as far as it is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare of employees, wherever they work. Employees working at home have the same duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as all other employees.
The FSA is required to undertake a risk assessment of employees' activities and working environment when working on a full-time or regular basis at home.
Any home working agreement will be subject to a six month trial period and will be reviewed at the end of that period.
Home working arrangements can be withdrawn at anytime if, in the opinion of the relevant line management, the effective and efficient operation of the team, department, and/or division is compromised, and/or:
the role changes
the ability of the wider FSA to fulfil its objectives is compromised
the performance of a home worker is unsatisfactory
the benefit is being abused
Withdrawal of a home working arrangement will be done in consultation with the employee and reasonable notice will be given, just as with any other proposed alteration to terms of employment.
Home working is a subset of remote working.
Examples of remote working are when employees work other than from the organisation's main office. This may be from home, from a remote or serviced office or it may be that they are travelling.
Sales teams and computer staff often work in this way.
The benefit to employees is a reduction of the cost and time involved in commuting and greater control over where and when they work.
Employers benefit from savings in accommodation costs. The problems of remote working are the management of remote teams and the sense of isolation that may be felt by employees.
Office based working
Virtually all workers with clerical or management responsibilities are involved at some point in being based in an office environment. They will usually be working at a desktop machine which is connected to a LAN and possibly a WAN. Office workers will need to have access to the same sort of equipment that remote workers do.
In order for workers to communicate with each other whether they are working in a fixed office, at home or at an alternative location they will need to use some or all of the following methods.
Use the internet to find out about the following methods of communication:
Try this site http://www.wmnet.org.uk/vc/
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks)
Try this site http:// computer.howstuffworks.com/vpn.htm