Telecommuters Rely on Unified Communications, Lag on Data Backup

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

Nearly one in three telecommuters say they never back up their data, which could leave their companies vulnerable to data loss.

According to a recent survey from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples Inc., telecommuters say they rely on email (96 percent), instant messaging (68 percent), video conferencing (44 percent) and unified communications technologies (25 percent) to stay connected. While more than two-thirds of telecommuters said they didn’t receive IT security training in preparation for home office work, many are applying good judgment and security best practices—95 percent say they install operating system updates right away and 84 percent don’t store personal data on their machines.

However, nearly one in three telecommuters say they never back up their data—which could leave them and their companies vulnerable to data loss. A report based on the survey cautioned that it’s important to educate telecommuters on how and when to back up their data, and data backups should be automated and tested to ensure functionality.

"Data can be the lifeblood of an organization, so it’s important to provide telecommuters with IT training and security best practices," said Ed Ludwigson, vice president and general manager for Staples Technology Solutions, the technology products and services division of Staples Advantage. "Because advances in technology continue to help dissolve geographical barriers, companies should also provide their telecommuters with tools that make it easy and efficient to collaborate and stay connected."

In addition, the survey found 86 percent of telecommuters said they feel better and are more productive when they work from home. When asked to draw comparisons, telecommuters say their stress levels have dropped 25 percent on average and their overall happiness increased 28 percent since working from home. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) even say they eat healthier when working from home.

Without the trek to the office—on average, a 77-mile round-trip for respondents—76 percent of telecommuters are more willing to put in extra time on work and say they are more loyal to their company since telecommuting, and more than 80 percent say they now maintain a better work-life balance.

Survey results indicated with the right setup and support from employers, telecommuting programs can be rewarding and productive options for employees. In fact, telecommuters claim they’d even be willing to sacrifice a few of their favorite things to continue working from home. Respondents would give up their favorite TV show (54 percent), forgo an extra hour of sleep (48 percent), swear off a favorite food (40 percent) or take a pay cut (40 percent) rather than stop telecommuting.

Staples Advantage conducted the online survey with responses from more than 140 telecommuters at companies of various sizes and across industries. The survey, conducted in May 2011, asked respondents, who work at least one day per week from home, about their home office setup and technology, as well as their overall experiences telecommuting. The number of telecommuters is on the rise and is expected to reach 63 million in the United States by 2016, according to a March 2009 report, "U.S. Telecommuting Forecast, 2009 to 2016," from IT analytics firm Forrester Research.