The government has formally launched its £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) with the hope of unlocking private sector investment of more than £1 billion to kickstart the deployment of ultrafast full-fibre, or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), broadband networks across the UK.
The £400 million will be available over four years, and private operators and financial investors are expected to match this with their own funds to reach over £1 billion in total investment in new networks.
The fund will give entrepreneurs and businesses an opportunity to run their management from home, taking advantage of the faster broadband and internet speeds in more areas.
This venture will be managed and invested on a commercial basis by private sector partners Amber Fund Management – part of the Amber Infrastructure Group – and M&G Investments, which is part of Prudential, to generate a commercial return for the government and, hopefully, ignite interest from other private investors in funding FTTP.
Rufus Grig, chief technology and strategy officer at Maintel, says, “High-speed internet has never been more vital in ensuring that British organisations perform to their full potential. The proposed pledge to broadband is a step forward for all businesses. However, it cannot stop there. More must be done to manage networking services for British companies if they are to compete on the global stage and drive our economy forward.
“Nearly two thirds (60 per cent) of employees think technology can replace physical workplace interaction. This increase in flexible working means real-time traffic on enterprise networks will continue to increase, through voice or video calls, screen-sharing, instant messaging or video casts. These business critical real-time applications, with low tolerance to delays or errors put networks under enormous strain. Maintaining uptime and performance can have a real impact on any companies bottom-line.
“Networking services cannot be ignored. High capacity fibre connections between data centres and managed broadband services for smaller sites and home workers is now an absolute.”
Virgin Media reveals there could be as many as 15.6 million homeworkers in the UK by 2022 – a 90 per cent increase compared with today.
In light of this, here are the pros and cons of staff and business owners working from home.
Pro: Technology has moved now to a point where you can communicate instantly to multiple people anywhere in the world through video calling and instant messenger. Many businesses can now recruit, trade and maintain customers across a wide network through technology, something that was impossible just a few decades ago. Opportunities in new regions and even new countries can open up to your business from the comfort of your own sofa, Skyping an important business meeting with potential business partners halfway around the world, or a sit-rep with staff members seeking new ventures in a different region.
Con: While it is great to get some electronic face-time across the globe, nothing is quite like a real face-to-face meeting with clients or employees. Convenience of technology has become the social norm and it can be easy to neglect and forget the importance of physical contact with those who interact with your business. While a Skype or phone call might be quicker and cheaper, nothing can replicate a personal approach.
Pro: Flexible working has become a motivating factor in many British businesses of late. The chance to work from home can help boost employee happiness and improve their productivity. Cutting down on commute times, trusting employees with working from home and restoring the life/work balance into the hands of workers can make them want to work harder for you. Many people have the devices at home to be able to work from home and an increased speed in broadband would only go to improve that.
Cons: It may be all well and good to let your staff work flexibly from home, but how do you ensure that they are actually working? Trust is a big part of it and it can be hard for managers to allow workers to have the freedom to motivate themselves away from the aura productivity of the office.
There are ways of checking up on remote workers through technology to make sure that they are still working, but managers are often reluctant to trust.
Pro: Flexible working from home sits comfortably on top of the list of benefits employees want to see at their work and it can be a major draw of talented workers looking for employment. Staff who already enjoy this perk are also more likely to stay with their employer if they offer this.
Con: Working from home is not always viable for businesses and it can be detrimental to your success if you allow staff to be flexible when your company can’t support it. While the trend is continuing to highlight that working from home is important for workers, do not let that influence you if it doesn’t work for your business.
Gareth Hemming, director of SME insurance at Aviva UK, says, “Technological innovation is presenting new ways for businesses to serve their customers and support growth objectives. It also offers the potential for businesses to evolve how they interact with customers outside of core working hours.
“Such change means businesses may need to rethink the way their employees work and should consider the benefits flexible working could bring in meeting business goals. It can also support employees looking to manage their work-life balance better as they juggle work with busy lives, looking after family young and old, managing health or even wanting more time to pursue other interests.
“Whilst flexible working may not be a practical option for all businesses they may still be able to introduce some degrees of flexibility – even on an ad hoc basis that may be beneficial.