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     Mobile and Remote Working
1.   This section describes the main issues related to mobile and remote working, and
     demonstrates how public sector organisations can benefit from introducing
     home-based working, and from using mobile devices and technology to help
     deliver services.

     Introduction
2.   The majority of UK citizens now own a mobile phone, and recent technological
     developments have led to a huge increase in their power and a reduction in their
     price. Mobile phones now benefit from significantly increased functionality. Users
     can surf the internet, check and send emails, access networked information,
     listen to music, watch videos or take photographs through handheld devices. At
     the same time, the connectivity infrastructure upon which they depend has
     begun to provide the amount of capacity required to transmit large amounts of
     mobile data. This infrastructure is made up of mobile phone masts, General
     Packet Radio Systems (GPRS), Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) and third generation
     networks (3G).

3.   Private sector companies have sought to benefit from this by using the
     technology to sell services (a practice that has become known as ‘m-commerce’)
     and by taking advantage of it to change working practices. In the same way the
     public sector can use mobile devices can reap benefits for their organisations
     through mobile and flexible working. The Cabinet Office’s Transformational
     Government strategy makes specific mention of the fact that the public sector
     should make more use of mobile devices to improve service delivery.

4.   In addition, the nature of ‘work’ for many people has changed over the past few
     years – more emphasis is now placed on the tasks they carry out, rather than
     the location in which they perform them. This has meant that managers are
     more likely to recognise that staff may not do less work out of the office: indeed,
     promoting home working could result in improved performance.

5.   For the public sector, mobile devices that allow staff to work away from ‘the
     office’, while maintaining connectivity with colleagues and access to relevant
     information, can result in significant benefits. This reduces duplication, can save
     on office costs and should deliver a better service for the customer.

     Outline of section

6.   Many public sector organisations have begun to communicate with their citizens
     via mobile devices, to remind them of a hospital appointment, give them
     information about local environmental issues, keep them updated about local
     events and activities or inform them that their housing benefit has been paid.
     However, this section concentrates on how and why mobile devices can reap
     internal process improvements, rather than issues of delivering services to
     customers. Furthermore, it focuses on the concepts behind and potential benefits
     of mobile and remote working, rather than explaining the relevant technologies
     in great detail.
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7.   It covers the three main groups of staff that can be helped by the use of mobile
     and other technology. They are:

         employees who are based at home;
         employees who work from home occasionally;
         employees who work remotely or ‘in the field’.
8.   The first part of this section (Home Working) covers the first two groups,
     whereas the second part (Mobile Working) discusses issues associated with the
     third group. The final section looks at the human resources implications of mobile
     and remote working.

     Home Working
9.   In the past few years, the number of people in the UK who work at home for
     some or all of the time has increased rapidly. A 2005 study by the Office for
     National Statistics found that around 3.1 million people in the UK worked mainly
     in their own home, or used their home as a base, compared to 2.3 million eight
     years previously.

10. In part, this has come as a response to employees seeking to balance their work
    and family lives and an increase in the number of self-employed people.
    However, it would not have been possible without the recent developments in
    technology that allow staff to remain in contact with colleagues and clients,
    regardless of their location. Indeed, 2.4 million of these home workers used a
    telephone and computer to carry out their work.

11. Although private companies began the trend, local authorities have been quick to
    see its potential benefits and offer their own staff the opportunity to work away
    from the office. When introducing such initiatives, they have been wise to treat
    home working projects in a similar way to other new ideas, by setting up a pilot
    to assess the benefits (for both employee and employer), before rolling out if
    successful.

     Advantages

12. Home working is often popular with staff, for a number of reasons:

         increased freedom and flexibility of working hours;
         working in an environment of their choosing;
         reduced or eliminated commuting;
         lower home insurance premiums;
         improved ability to concentrate.
13. These factors often give the impression that home working will only benefit
    employees, and projects tend to be the result of staff pressure. However, there
    are many reasons why home working might also be attractive to employers,
    some of which might not be immediately apparent:

         improved staff productivity;
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         a more flexible organisation that can provide services outside of ‘normal’
          office hours;
         improved recruitment and retention;
         staff may be happier;
         reduced sickness absence;
         better relations with staff, as a result of trusting them to work alone;
         more efficient use of existing property assets;
         environmental benefit of reduced car usage;
         ability to employ more disabled people, who might otherwise have difficulty
          getting to the office regularly;
         benefit to local communities where staff live (see the EU’s SUSTEL study for
          more details).
     Disadvantages

14. Any decision to introduce home working should have the support of both the
    employer and those employees that are affected, since it may involve a change
    in the terms of their contracts. In spite of the apparent benefits, not everyone is
    necessarily keen to work from home, for a number of reasons:

         there will be fewer networking and social opportunities;
         many people value the distinction between their job and home that arises
          from working in the office;
         the employee may not have ‘their’ desk in the office, and may have to work
          in a cramped environment if accommodation is rationalised;
         using the home as a workplace could change an employee’s tax status.
15. Persuading employers of the benefits of home working has proved more difficult.
    The main reasons for this are as follows.

         The employer will need to measure outcomes (the resulting service
          delivery) and outputs (work produced) as opposed to inputs (time spent
          working). For many organisations this requires a significant change in the
          managerial culture.
         Teleworking may be suitable for only a small number of staff.
         Flexible professionals might want administrative and IT support staff to
          work more flexible hours so that they receive the necessary support.
         IT staff might have to travel relatively long distances to deal with software
          or hardware problems in the individual’s home.
         Corporate IT systems are not able to function 24/7 because of the need for
          interfacing databases, down time and upgrades etc.
         Communication and team-building may be affected if staff do not see each
          other regularly.
         Flexible workers do not pick up tacit knowledge about the organisation
          (such as which person to speak to about a specific issue) as easily as their
          colleagues in the office.
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         Staff who remain in the office may be jealous of workers who can ‘enjoy’
          home working.
     Equipment and software

16. Employees in any location must be given the equipment that is necessary to
    carry out their job. This is also true for home workers – providing them with the
    right tools prevents problems associated with ownership and responsibility from
    arising. For example, if employees use their own equipment for work purposes
    and require IT assistance, the employer may face a dilemma in agreeing to
    provide that support, particularly if the problem was not a result of their working
    activity. Of course, this situation might also be reversed – an employee could
    encounter difficulties when using work equipment for personal use. The
    organisation should decide on a corporate policy for dealing with this, and ensure
    home workers are aware of the position.

17. Necessary equipment may include a telephone, computer with relevant software
    (a laptop and docking station will provide more flexibility than a PC), printer,
    photocopier, fax machine and internet access via broadband. The availability of
    broadband, which provides faster, ‘always-on’, unmetered access to network files
    and the internet without occupying a phone line, has made home working much
    more feasible. If it is expected that the employee will work from home relatively
    frequently, or may need access to large quantities of data, the employer should
    invest in broadband for their use.

18. Finally, managers should be aware that corporate software licence agreements
    do not extend to an individual’s own computer, in addition to their work machine.
    This may dissuade some people from taking up teleworking, since it requires
    them to use an additional (work) computer as well as their personal machine and
    they may have space limitations at home. One solution to this problem is to
    provide laptops, which take up less space and can be designated as a ‘secondary’
    work computer (in addition to one they have in the office) under the terms of the
    software agreement.

     Security

19. Staff opting to work away from the office take on additional responsibilities for
    their equipment. They should ensure that the latest service updates are
    downloaded, and back up files on the network drive or disks, in case of computer
    crashes, theft or loss. Computers must be password-protected, and employees
    should use screensavers if the machine is left unattended, particularly if the
    computer contains confidential data.

20. They should also be reminded that corporate policies on internet and email abuse
    apply as much in the home as the office. However, if a teleworker has been
    provided with unmetered internet access the organisation incurs no extra charge
    from them surfing the web for personal reasons. Consequently, many employers
    are relaxed about home workers using their equipment for personal use,
    provided they remain within the boundaries of corporate policies.

21. Nevertheless, home workers may not be accessing the internet through the
    corporate firewall, and consequently their equipment could be more vulnerable
    than computers in the office. Websites that are blocked by the server at
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     headquarters might be accessible from home, something that could be
     problematic. Difficulties could also arise where, for example, a child protection
     social worker might require access to sites that are wholly inappropriate for an
     accountant working within the same department. In addition, if an employee
     contracts a virus at home and then uses their laptop in the office, the corporate
     network could be affected.

22. To minimise these risks, organisations should consider installing personal
    firewalls for each remote worker, along with virtual private networks (VPNs). Link
    to glossary. VPNs provide protected access through an internet connection and
    are a useful way of ensuring that flexible staff can access networked information
    securely while away from the main office. However, they are only effective from
    a fixed location (such as the employee’s home), and therefore organisations
    should ensure that other measures are in place to ensure mobile staff are
    properly protected.

23. One way of avoid most of the above difficulties is to use remote access software
    such as Citrix. The only software installed in the individual’s home is the client
    software. The individual also has an access key generator that ensures the
    security and integrity of the connection. All the other software and data remains
    on the organisation’s servers. The user sees an image of the computer desktop
    that is the same as they would see if they were directly logged on to the
    organisation’s network. Access to downloading and uploading files can be
    controlled. Issues around corporate firewalls and mobile devices can be solved.

24. Some software does not work well or at all over these types of remote
    connections but most software suppliers are now updating their software to work
    since so many customers are using these remote working tools.

     Hot-desking

25. Organisations that allow home working should set aside some office space for
    ‘hot-desks’. These allow remote staff to log on to the network through a spare PC
    or, where the employee has a laptop, through a wireless LAN or network cable.
    As a result, they can work with their own personal settings and access files that
    were saved locally. In order to ensure that all home workers have the same right
    to each desk, it is probably best to determine occupancy through a booking
    system, via the intranet or an electronic calendar.

26. If managers are serious about wanting to reduce office space, they should
    encourage staff to work away from headquarters as often as possible. While an
    organisation is in the process of setting up home working, the ratio of remote
    staff to hot desks can only be estimated. However, some private sector
    organisations work on a basis of up to 7:1. Once the project is up and running,
    occupancy of hot desks should be managed and monitored to ensure that they
    are being used correctly, and that they are reduced in number if this is feasible.

27. Administrative support is required to ensure that home workers are supported
    and messages etc. from the public are passed on to the home worker. Other
    activities, such as change of passwords, building access etc also need to be
    communicated to home workers. There can also be a knock-on effect for support
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     who may have to turn around information requests on a particular day, as that is
     the only day when the home worker visits the office.

     Teambuilding and support

28. Developing coherent teams from a group of dispersed individuals can be difficult.
    Managers should ensure that they maintain communication with remote staff, by
    telephone, email and in team meetings. Telephone conferences can be a good
    (and cheap) way of dealing with issues, and some private companies have
    invested in video conferencing to facilitate dialogue between staff in different
    locations.

29. When used correctly, the ‘out of office’ function in email programs, along with
    voicemail messages, can be extremely helpful to customers and colleagues. If
    team members share their calendars electronically, colleagues will know where
    they are based on any particular day. However, as mobile phones become more
    advanced, staff are able to access relevant information and contact others
    regardless of location and it may be that these functions become less important
    in the future.

30. Corporate intranets are a good way for remote staff to remain connected to the
    organisation, keeping them informed of developments and providing an easy way
    of accessing information. Some organisations may want to set aside a section of
    their intranet to facilitate online discussions in real time – this can be password-
    protected if the topic is confidential. Other technologies, such as instant
    messaging (text, voice and picture) can also help with communication.

31. More traditionally, face-to-face meetings are still probably the best way to
    promote team working and good relationships between colleagues. However,
    these assume much greater importance when they involve home workers.
    Opportunities for home workers to come and meet their colleagues help them to
    keep a feeling of connection with the organisation.

32. It is vital to make them productive and relevant to all of those present, otherwise
    some may feel that their attendance was unnecessary. Team members might live
    a long way from any meeting place and could become resentful if the issues
    under discussion did not need their input or could be resolved by telephone or
    email. Consequently, managers should not feel that they must hold a team
    meeting unless there is sufficient material on the agenda.

33. In addition to team meetings, employers should hold regular formal appraisals to
    support, praise and encourage staff where appropriate. These should focus on
    the extent to which mutual targets have been achieved, as outlined in part 3 of
    this section. To ensure that staff feel valued, managers should also support them
    in more informal ways, with a few words of encouragement or congratulations by
    email or over the phone.

     Financial implications

34. The costs and benefits of home working can be difficult to assess. Costs can
    occur over time or be one-off investments, and benefits normally only appear
    later. It is also important to recognise that they are likely to fall unevenly on
    departments or units (IT and line managers, for example), and this is likely to
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    mean that different stakeholders will have varying levels of enthusiasm for
    teleworking.

35. In any assessment, it is important to ascertain whether the cost of allowing
    someone to work from home will duplicate or replace the costs of keeping him or
    her in the office. However, the following potential costs should be considered.
    Although most of them do not amount to a great financial commitment, when
    taken together they could be significant:

        the one-off, direct cost of hardware and software (whether purchased, hired
         or leased), followed by ongoing costs of maintenance, upgrades or
         replacement where necessary;
        additional printers and photocopiers (each home-based employee will
         require one, rather than sharing them on the network);
        communications media (telephone, broadband, video-conferencing, etc.);
        cost of internet connection – connectivity to the home may be more
         expensive than leased lines;
        support and maintenance costs, whether provided in house or by a third
         party;
        consumables, such as disks, CDs, toner cartridges, stationery and paper;
        ancillary accessories, including computer furniture and cabling;
        costs incurred by planning, management, implementation, development and
         evaluation of the home working project;
        ongoing support from the IT department;
        training of home workers;
        modifications to the home site to ensure that it complies with health and
         safety requirements;
        modifications to the main office site, such as installing hot desks and extra
         meeting spaces;
        paying for meetings and possible staff accommodation in external premises
         (e.g. hotels);
        transition to the new system, including rewriting software, setting up files
         and databases, converting existing data, or use of temporary staff during
         the transition phase;
        installation and delivery of equipment to the employee’s home;
        insurance for loss or damage to the equipment;
        business continuity guarantee and disaster recovery;
        travel of employee to meetings from home;
        payment of home workers’ heating and lighting bills – managers should
         contact HR to identify the financial implications of this.
36. Major financial benefits of home working can result from reduced office costs.
    The average office desk is unoccupied for up to 90% of the calendar year, yet is
    paid for on a 24/7/365 basis and costs over £10,000 per annum. Consequently,
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     reducing the required office space by increasing staff to desk ratios can result in
     significant savings.

     Case study: London Borough of Hillingdon

37. Hillingdon analysed 520 jobs in its housing department and identified 300 that
    were suitable for remote working (via telework and mobile work). With a
    supporting hot desk ratio of one workspace to 3.5 employees, the department
    calculated that it could sell off half of its office space.

38. These calculations helped to develop a business case that estimated a return on
    investment within four years, with ongoing net savings of £0.45m from year five.
    Hillingdon’s analysis was later verified by Cisco.

39. However, very few organisations are aware of how much money they spend on
    property to begin with – some might not even know how many people work for
    them. Managers should identify these figures before beginning any home working
    project, to ensure a reliable benchmark against which occupancy costs can be
    measured. Some private sector companies (such as BT) have saved millions of
    pounds in recent years as a result of their home working policies.

     Mobile Working
40. Some types of work are particularly suited to flexible modes. For example, social
    services, environmental health, highways or property staff often want to access
    real-time information while they are ‘in the field’ rather than at a desk. For the
    purposes of this section, they are termed ‘mobile’ rather than ‘home’ workers.

41. Since these employees are much less likely to require central office space, staff
    to desk ratios for mobile workers are usually different when compared with their
    home-based colleagues. If they can receive the necessary information
    electronically on a hand-held device, they will not need to report centrally for
    details of their next task and therefore should not require as much space in the
    office. If they can input information directly into back-office databases while on
    site via GPRS or third generation mobile networks, this would also reduce
    duplication.

42. Consequently, mobile working can result in significant savings in office, process
    and transport costs, as well as the time spent between jobs. This makes the
    business case for remote working relatively easy to build.

43. Most of the technology is already available to enable mobile working – the key is
    to identify it, use it in the right way and manage the change properly. In
    addition, standards will need to be developed on issues such as integrating
    mobile devices with back office systems.

     Mobile working in local authority departments

44. In a local authority context, the following areas are well placed to benefit from
    mobile technology:

         property services;
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         building inspection;
         environmental health;
         trading standards;
         social services;
         benefits;
         internal audit;
         community wardens;
         councillors.
45. In property services, staff responsible for building maintenance or repairs rarely
    need to be in the office and would be able to work more efficiently if they
    received real-time updates about jobs while in the field. Similarly, the ability to
    input data about housing repairs directly into the back-office while on site should
    remove unnecessary duplication and ensure that the service is delivered quicker.

     Case study: Harlow Council

46. Following a critical Best Value review, Harlow improved the way in which its
    housing repair service was delivered. Tenants with a problem now phone a
    contact centre, from where the agent has access to each craftsperson’s diary and
    can thus schedule appointments accordingly. The agent fills in a form on screen
    according to how tenants describe the problem, and a workflow system then sets
    processes in train by sending jobs to the relevant people – plumbers,
    electricians, engineers, etc.

47. The craftspeople can then access their job information from the central database
    in real time using PDAs. This also means that they do not need to report to any
    office before visiting a property and can fit in extra jobs during the working day.

48. The new approach ensures a better and more efficient service to the tenants
    (91% of problems are dealt with at the first visit to the property, compared to
    60% beforehand). In addition, the system provides council managers with
    valuable information about how jobs are progressing, how much they will cost
    and how long they may take.


49. A similar approach could be taken in environmental health or trading standards,
    both of which require staff to travel to various sites and collect data in the field.
    Many unitary and county councils have begun to provide social workers with
    mobile devices to help them with client assessments.

     Case study: Cambridgeshire County Council

50. Cambridgeshire issued tablet PCs to its social services staff, who now enter
    information straight into the system while assessing and meeting with clients.
    This has had a number of hard and soft benefits:

         carers can identify any existing problems the client may have much quicker;
         carers do not need to report into the office at the start of the day as they
          can access information remotely;
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         difficulties with reading handwriting are overcome;
         tablets do not form as big a barrier as laptops between staff and clients and
          can thus help to develop trust;
         the council is expecting to reap annual savings of around £5m from the
          initiative, as a result of reduced duplication and office occupancy.


51. Benefits staff could also be equipped with mobile devices, enabling them to make
    assessments in clients’ homes and help them through applications. If officers
    meet claimants face-to-face in this way, it could also deter fraudulent
    applications.

     Case study: Halton BC and ‘Benefits Express’

52. Benefits claimants at Halton were having difficulty filling in their application
     forms, which led to frustration and delays in the payment of council tax rebate.
     Halton decided that if its staff went into people's homes they would be able to
     explain things better and get the correct answers first time. As a result, 'Benefits
     Express', essentially an office on a bus that provides access to benefits
     information and systems, was born.

53. The bus travels around estates, informing those people who need to renew their
     benefit applications of what they need to do, before processing their claims. This
     is normally done in the applicants' homes, using GPRS to access the benefits’
     back-office systems, with the result that queries are answered and claims
     updated and processed in real time. Staff also capture images (of signatures for
     example) with digital cameras, which can then be put on to the council's
     document imaging system.

54. Not only do claimants find out immediately whether they qualify for benefits, but
     it also saves data duplication and paper chasing in the office, thus helping to
     improve staff morale. Claims are now processed in a month rather than 50 days,
     as was the case previously.

55. Once word about the bus got around, demand for benefits services mushroomed
     and claimants began to ask questions about other related issues. Consequently,
     Halton has introduced other services through the bus to create a mobile one-stop
     shop.

     Mobile working in healthcare

56. New technology provides the possibility that non-urgent healthcare could be
    carried out without the patient needing to attend hospital. This could have a
    particularly beneficial impact in rural areas.

     Case study: Telemedicine in Cornwall

57. Despite having a population of nearly half a million, Cornwall has no towns with
     more than 20,000 inhabitants, and only one hospital. However, the county has
     12 minor injury units (MIUs), which are staffed primarily by nurses.
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58. The nurses are trained in IT, injury assessment and treatment skills, and can
     also supply some medication. When a patient enters the unit, the nurses film
     their symptoms and the pictures are streamed over an internal network that
     links the various MIUs with an A&E specialist in Truro and radiologists in Truro
     and Plymouth. Based on the pictures, these experts provide assessments and
     diagnosis and either recommend that the patient travel to hospital or advise the
     nurse to pursue a particular course of minor treatment.


59. The potential of mobile devices to improve patient care in hospital is huge. If
    doctors are able to call up electronic care records on PDAs or tablet PCs while at
    a patient’s bed, they may be able identify additional reasons for their illness. The
    ability to input data straight into their record will also reduce the potential for
    error, as well as cut out duplication. Some hospital trusts have begun to install
    wireless networks into wards or surgery departments, giving clinicians who move
    around access to real-time information about patients' conditions.

60. After serious incidents, valuable time is often taken up assessing the extent of
    injuries once a patient arrives at hospital. If hospital staff had a better indication
    of their injuries, patients could be treated immediately on arrival – or by
    paramedics on the way to hospital.

     Case study: Fife Fire and Rescue Service

61. Fife Fire and Rescue Service uses photo messaging at the scene of accidents to
     take photographs of casualties. It then sends these images to the Accident and
     Emergency (A&E) Unit at Dunfermline's Queen Margaret Hospital, which receives
     them in real time.

62. This allows resident consultants at the hospital to examine the pictures and
     assess the extent of injuries and mobilise the appropriate medical teams before
     the patient arrives. Consultants can also decide whether it is more valuable for
     them to wait for the patient to get to hospital or whether they should travel to
     the scene to assist.

     New ways of working

63. Some organisations that have adopted mobile working have encountered
    problems trying to integrate the technology with existing systems. The most
    successful projects have been combined with business process re-engineering
    and newer technology that is designed to complement remote working. However,
    integrating new ways of working into the organisation can be very difficult: the
    section on Human Resources Issues provides some guidance on how to manage
    this change.

64. The Transformational Government strategy sets out the case for delivering public
    services through mobile channels, as part of its aim to design services around
    the needs of the customer. As well as having benefits for government, this can
    also make it easier for citizens to access services. However, mobile working also
    has the potential to transform the way in which public sector organisations
    function.
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65. Examples of how mobile technology could change particular jobs are outlined
    below.

         During client assessments, social workers could gather information that
          could be relevant for other departments, such as benefits or housing. This
          could be added into council systems while on site.
         Refuse collectors could take note of abandoned cars or streetlights that are
          not working. If these are reported on site, the technology could alert
          relevant departments to their exact location.
         Traffic wardens could inform colleagues in highway maintenance of road
          potholes.
         Benefits staff could determine whether their clients are entitled to other
          services while on site.
66. The potential is there for remote staff to define new and more varied roles with
    public sector organisations. The development of an ‘urban ranger’, who deals
    with a variety of issues and is supported in the field by mobile technology that
    allows him or her to access corporate and departmental systems on the move,
    may not be far away.

     Technology

67. Technological developments are likely to make mobile working an even more
    attractive option in the future. There are now thousands of WiFi ‘hotspots’ in the
    UK – areas of approximately 30m radius that allow people to access the internet
    and corporate networks via radio waves, and thus without cables. They are
    mostly in airports, hotels, conference halls, cafes, meeting rooms, railway
    stations, trains, service stations and other public locations. Where hotspots are
    not available, staff can normally access email through General Packet Radio
    Systems (GPRS) technology, and mobile devices such as BlackBerries allow them
    to respond by text or voice.

68. Public wireless networks can have knock on benefits for local businesses and
    communities, particularly in areas where broadband access is limited. The
    potential exists for local authorities to invest in them jointly with local companies
    that are also interested in the technology – or alternatively charge them for the
    use of corporate connectivity

69. A number of local authorities are installing WiMax networks in their areas. WiMax
    works over a wider area than WiFi. Areas where WiMax is currently installed and
    active are Manchester, Milton Keynes and Warwick. The primary purpose of these
    networks is to give remote access to Council staff. However, spare capacity can
    be sold to consumers. This is of particular interest in Milton Keynes as many of
    the telephone lines in the area use aluminium which is not an effective carrier of
    broadband signals.

70. In addition, telecoms companies have begun to promote ‘guest’ WiFi, which
    enables visitors to university campuses, offices, warehouses or building sites to
    access their own email, orders, brochures, network etc from another
    organisation’s building. This allows people with unstructured, flexible work
    patterns to access files, email and the internet from outside the office.
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71. Increasingly, wireless networks are being installed in office buildings, removing
    the need for excessive cables when staff log on to the network. This would be
    particularly beneficial for employees who are only in the office occasionally, or
    may be moving around within the building. ‘Hot offices’ allow for even greater
    flexibility than hot desks.

72. Future technological developments should also be considered, and integrated into
    a mobile strategy where relevant. Photo messaging (MMS) has become
    widespread in recent years and has the potential to improve service delivery. For
    example, ‘urban rangers’ could send pictures to their colleagues to illustrate an
    abandoned car, or building inspectors might inform repair staff of problems by
    photo message.

73. Third generation mobile networks (3G) are also being rolled out in many areas,
    providing huge capacity for mobile data streaming. Most organisations have yet
    to consider how they might utilise it, but its potential for urban authorities should
    not be underestimated (connectivity will be slower to spread to rural areas).

     Security

74. Most of the security issues concerning viruses, passwords and acceptable use
    policies that were raised in part one of this section also apply to mobile workers.
    However, they assume even greater importance for staff that may be based in
    any number of locations, since third party or open-air locations will probably be
    less secure than an employee’s home.

75. For example, Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) cafés do not            always have secure
    connections – visitors do not necessarily need to log         on with a password.
    Consequently, work that involves sensitive or confidential   information should not
    be undertaken in hotspots, or indeed any location where      other people might be
    able to look over an employee’s shoulder.

76. In addition, employees who install and use wireless LANs at home for work
    purposes also run security risks. Neighbours could access corporate networks if
    the connection is not sufficiently secure, or alternatively ‘steal’ the bandwidth
    provided by the LAN.

77. Moreover, legal and data protection risks are compounded when staff work from
    different locations, because they may need to rely on data that is stored on
    hardware that they carry around with them. Effective measures should be in
    place to ensure that back-up disks and memory sticks (as well as laptops and
    PDAs) are stored securely, particularly if they contain sensitive information.

78. The security of wireless devices is improving though, and provided sensitive data
    is stored centrally and accessed through ‘thin client’ type solutions, the
    confidentiality issue is reduced. In addition, a number of devices can be
    destroyed or rendered useless remotely if they are lost or stolen.

     NOMAD national project

79. Nomad is a centre of excellence for mobile and flexible working in local
    government. Owned by Cambridgeshire County Council, with contributions from
    many local authorities across the country, Nomad's aim is to analyse,
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     demonstrate and evaluate the potential benefits and savings that can be made
     by introducing mobile and flexible working technology solutions. Nomad also
     plays a role in promoting the solutions being implemented in local government
     across the UK, developing detailed case studies and hosting events to spread the
     word.    Further    details   about     the    project    are   available    via
     www.projectnomad.org.uk.

     Human Resources Issues
80. Any decision to introduce home-based or mobile working should involve all of the
    relevant stakeholders, especially IT, facilities management, property and human
    resources staff. Moving a member of staff to another working location might
    mean a change in their contract, and it will almost certainly result in a different
    relationship between employer and employee. In addition, many people work
    from home occasionally on an ad hoc basis, but both employer and employee
    should still agree on the reasons for and limitations to this arrangement.

81. Once an organisation has decided to adopt home-based or mobile working, they
    should implement a policy or code of practice for the treatment of remote staff.
    They should also be consistent when determining which roles do not have to be
    office-based, to ensure that staff feel the policy is fair. A sample home working
    policy is available in the appendix, but it should cover the following issues:

         definition of home-based or mobile working;
         eligibility and application procedure for home-based or mobile working;
         legal implications;
         health and safety implications;
         implications for contractual terms and conditions (availability, annual leave,
          methods of contact, flexi-time, salary etc);
         procedures for monitoring remote employees;
         provision of equipment and support for remote employees;
         insurance;
         procedure to follow in the event of accidents;
         procedure to follow if either the employer or employee wish to terminate
          the arrangement.
     Recruitment and selection

82. Any organisation looking to recruit home-based or mobile workers should
    determine whether candidates are suited to the job and would be comfortable
    working away from the office. Any decision to be based elsewhere must be
    mutual, and should take into account the candidate’s personal circumstances and
    level of training. For example:

         Do they have sufficient space at home to work there?
         Does their family support the idea of home-based working?
         Is their domestic life stable, or do they move house frequently?
                                                                                     15

         Are they aware of the potential isolation associated with working away from
          the office?
         Do they have childcare arrangements (home working is not a substitute for
          this)?
         Are they sufficiently IT-literate?
83. Many organisations insist that new employees should be based in the office for
    the first few months after starting work. This has the advantage that new staff
    will get a better understanding of the organisational culture and gain valuable
    tacit knowledge about how it works. However, others employ people to work
    remotely from the beginning of their contracts. This approach ensures that
    candidates are certain of the working conditions from the outset and can also
    broaden the pool of potential applicants, since they do not need to live near the
    office in order to do the job.

     Management issues

84. For managers, the biggest implication of home working is the reduced amount of
    supervision and control they will have over their staff. However, control can still
    be exercised in different ways, including:

         career opportunities;
         group pressures;
         review meetings;
         bonuses;
         workflow systems that identify when a task has been completed and make
          processes more transparent.
85. Consequently, home working requires a more nuanced style of management than
    ensuring employees are in the office during ‘working hours’. Instead of assessing
    staff performance according to inputs (such as the time spent ‘at work’),
    managers should judge them on their ‘outputs’.

     Targets and measurement

86. In order to manage staff properly, we need to measure their performance. Once
    sufficient relevant outputs and outcomes have been identified, they should be
    translated into targets for each employee, against which they can be assessed.

87. Outputs and outcomes are different. An output is what comes out at the end of a
    process. In project management terms, these are called deliverables. They are
    usually very tangible and easily measured. Outcomes are about whether or not
    the outcomes meet the customer’s expectations. Outcomes are more difficult to
    measure and are often made up of a number of outputs and how well these
    outputs are delivered. An organisation might have a number of processes that
    are very good at delivering good quality outputs but if these outputs are not
    what is needed or wanted, then the required outcome may not be achieved.

88. The Treasury Green Book has a chapter (which can be found here) which shows
    the relationship between objectives, outcomes and outputs and how an outcome
    can be turned into a target. Although this is designed for financial appraisals, the
                                                                                   16

     principles could also be used to move from a service objective though outcomes
     and outputs to an individual’s targets.

89. Setting targets should be a joint exercise involving the staff member and his or
    her manager to help employees understand how they are contributing to
    corporate objectives, and so ensure that they are realistic and achievable.
    Targets should also be SMART:

         Specific
         Measurable
         Achievable
         Relevant
         Timed.
90. Organisations introducing teleworking should identify the standard and level of
    work attained by office-based staff, against which any changes in performance
    can be measured once they begin to work from home. This requires a significant
    amount of data collection prior to beginning the project – although an alternative
    would be to compare the performance of home workers with those employees
    that are still based in the office.

     Case study: Bradford Council

91. Bradford Council piloted teleworking for a number of staff who processed benefit
    applications. Since all employees process claims electronically, the authority was
    able to compare the output of office-based staff and home workers using basic
    quantitative data. It found that teleworkers processed an average of 25% more
    claims per hour.

92. Source: EU SUSTEL project (www.sustel.org)

93. Determining relevant and reliable performance measures can be difficult,
    depending on the job in question. Outputs that can be judged objectively in
    ‘units’ (such as those produced by the benefits staff at Bradford) offer obvious
    advantages. However, they might need to be balanced by qualitative indicators,
    which can be assessed in meetings, by email or over the phone, or by clients
    through feedback mechanisms. Either way, all outputs should meet and fit with
    corporate objectives, to ensure that the tasks undertaken contribute towards the
    overall aims of the organisation.

94. Some private companies offer their staff incentives for meeting their targets,
    such as piece rates, commission, ‘task and finish’ (whereby an employee works
    until he or she has completed their designated tasks) or performance related
    pay. However, money is not the only driver for most employees (particularly in
    the public sector) and some staff might see this attitude as patronising – for
    many, simple feedback and support may suffice.

     Right to apply for flexible working

95. Under the terms of the Employment Act 2002, the parents of young children
    have had the right to apply to work flexibly since April 2003. This fits with the
                                                                                    17

     government’s desire to help people have a better work-life balance. In 2006 the
     right was extended to cover workers who care for an older relative. The
     government has announced that they plan on extending this right to all workers
     with children under 16.

     Support and maintenance

96. IT and administrative staff must be involved in any decision to implement remote
    working, since it is likely to have a major impact on their jobs. Home-based or
    mobile employees may start to ask for support ‘out of hours’, and might require
    technicians to travel to their homes if they have a particularly serious IT
    problem.

97. A few simple procedures can reduce the burden on support staff:

         procuring technology that allows IT staff to take control of computers
          remotely, reducing the need for laptops to be taken into the office or have a
          technician come to the employee's home;
         placing frequently asked questions or a quick troubleshooting guide on the
          corporate intranet, providing a first point of call for remote staff in
          difficulties (provided their problems do not extend to an inability to access
          the intranet of course!);
         providing administrative staff with a mobile phone that all remote workers
          are able to call in an emergency.
98. There can be issues around staff wanting to use their own equipment. If work
    software is installed on home computers, support issues will be complicated by
    the range and variety of systems it will be installed on. However, if the
    organisation insists on staff using corporate equipment, there may be problems if
    the employee already has their own equipment.

99. There might also be licensing terms that restrict organisations as to where
    software can be installed. The Microsoft Volume Licensing agreements (Corporate
    Select and Enterprise agreements) have an option in them called Microsoft Work
    at Home which allows licences to be bought for home use if there is a
    corresponding licence on the work computer.

100. One solution is to use remote access software such as Citrix. This allows
     corporate systems to be access on a home computer but in a controlled
     environment with no software, apart from the access software itself, installed on
     the home equipment.

     Salary

101. Most organisations pay their home-based and mobile employees at the same rate
     as they would receive in the office. However, employees in more expensive parts
     of the country (such as central London) often receive additional ‘weighting’ to
     counteract the high cost of living. If the individual’s registered place of work
     (their home) no longer qualifies for this extra money, organisations may be
     within their rights to withhold it.
                                                                                       18

102. Another issue arises if staff are paid by the hour, rather than a fixed salary. It
     could be argued that they should be paid for the time spent travelling to a
     meeting or work-related activity from their registered place of work.
     Organisations should develop their own policies in this regard, and ensure they
     are applied consistently.

     Health and safety

103. Initially, employers should ensure that the chosen working location meets
     necessary health and safety requirements by conducting an on-site assessment
     to ensure the environment is suited to the job in question. Once this is complete,
     the mobile or home-based employee is largely responsible for health and safety
     in their working environment. Particular attention should be given to:

         use of laptop computers. Health and safety requirements stipulate that they
          should not be used for longer than five hours a day. If the employee is
          expected to be at their desk for longer than this, they should be given a
          docking station and TFT screen to fit with these regulations;
         workplace assessments for safety of power supply and electrical equipment,
          trailing cables, desk space, fire exits and any special physical requirements.
          Following the initial assessment, employers only need to repeat the exercise
          ‘where practicable’;
         other recommendations, such as taking regular breaks from a screen, are
          largely the employee’s responsibility.
104. Where staff work from home on an occasional basis, it may be too complicated
     and expensive to ensure that the home working location meets all the necessary
     health and safety requirements. However, Health and Safety legislation does not
     provide definitive answers to where the boundary might lie relying on words such
     as “reasonable”. Where working at home is genuinely occasional, e.g. only if
     there is bad weather, then it might be acceptable to not have a full health and
     safety assessment of the home working location. However, once work is done at
     home on a regular basis, even if this infrequent, the health and safety
     assessment should be done.

     Remove obstacles to change

105. Managers should ensure that staff have the tools and skills for the jobs they do.
     All staff should be given relevant training, but employees who are based outside
     the office often require different skills. Additional training may be required in the
     following areas:

         information technology – smaller public sector organisations are unlikely to
          require (or be able to afford) ‘24/7’ helpdesk support. Remote workers will
          want to solve as many IT difficulties themselves as possible, and they may
          require additional ICT skills to do this;
         health and safety, although the employer should make an initial assessment
          of the workplace;
         security – to understand how data should be made secure, by using
          passwords and screensavers, for example;
                                                                                     19

         acclimatisation and addressing issues of time management and avoiding
          overwork. For example, having regular breaks away from the screen and
          the importance of social interaction with work colleagues. New home
          workers often feel the need to work harder than their office-based
          colleagues, but this is unnecessary;
         avoiding isolation – following the teambuilding ideas covered above can also
          help to deal with this.
106. In addition, obstacles that could hinder the realisation of mobile working should
     be removed, amended or otherwise alleviated. These may include inflexible job
     specifications that prevent staff from exploiting the benefits of mobile technology
     to the full, inappropriate or insufficient equipment or individual targets that do
     not reflect the new working arrangement.

     Conclusions
107. This section has shown how mobile technology can improve the way the public
     sector is organised and delivers services to citizens. Among other things, mobile
     government can result in efficiency savings, better service delivery and more
     contented staff.

108. The knock-on effects of contented staff are improved recruitment and retention
     rates, which can ultimately save thousands of pounds. By not limiting themselves
     to employing people from a particular geographic area and giving employees the
     chance to have a better balance between work and home life, organisations are
     more likely to attract and keep personnel of the highest quality.

109. Above all, the greater flexibility provided by mobile technology means that
     government can provide services as and when they are required. If staff can
     access relevant information at the time and location of their choosing, this will
     result in a significant improvement in customer satisfaction. The transformation
     agenda seeks to redesign public services around the needs of the citizen. Mobile
     technology can help to achieve this vision by providing services more flexibly,
     ‘out of hours’ and where they are required.

110. However, a number of hurdles need to be overcome before this vision is realised.
     Some managers are sceptical about the benefits of mobile working, and many
     jobs still need to be office-based. Most importantly, managing the change to the
     new ways of working that mobile technology makes possible will be difficult. If
     staff do not understand and support m-government projects (and the impact
     they could have on their roles), they are unlikely to be successful.

				
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