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I've been reading a recent white paper and blog post on the subject of telework posted by my colleague Jim Lynch, and I had to express my appreciation and reactions. Thanks, Jim.
My first reaction is "cool!" Teleworking is so much greener as Citrix's white paper amply demonstrates. It's also more fun and more relaxing. By a certain age, must of us know ourselves well enough to understand better than anyone else what encourages our best work and what hinders it. The discipline and constraint imposed by an office is useful up to a point, but as Jim's post on telework policy makes clear, we can replicate the positive elements of peer pressure and self-discipline in the context of teleworking.
My second reaction was, telework makes even more sense for nonprofits than other organizations. NPOs are especially likely to have an interest in adopting GreenTech practices and lowering their carbon footprints. Also, NPOs the missions and clients served by NPOs often call us into the field and out of the office. For example, it's much easier measure and record river pollution levels with a pocket computer and flexible policies regarding work hours and office attendance.
Finally, I think that telework is here to stay for the simple reason that mobile computing and cloud computing are here to stay. Nonprofits and libraries don't have to be the bleeding-edge, early adopters of work shifting, but they should read the tea leaves and start preparing themselves mentally and logistically for this impending switch.
A few technology trends are currently coming together to make teleworking logical and practical:
Traditional IT infrastructure can't fully transition to the cloud until all the IT management and enterprise communication applications that we rely on are available as cloud services at a reasonable price. As the resources below demonstrate, this trend is already well under way.
In addition, a wide variety of powerful mobile devices have to be on the market so our colleagues can acquire a moderately-priced device suited to their work styles but still powerful enough to run demanding business software.
Mobile hotspots and the slow transition to so-called 4G mobile broadband networks technologies are also important in this context, since mobile workers today are often tethered to wired Internet connections and the small radius of coverage surrounding coffee shops and other wireless hotspots. Verizon, Sprint and other mobile broadband providers are already selling mobile hotspot devices such as Verizon's Mifi and incorporating similar functionality into their smartphones. There's often an additional monthly charge for this service as well as data caps. As mobile companies upgrade from slower 3G networks to higher-capacity 4G networks, plan pricing will fall and data limits will rise.
If you're interested in learning more about cloud computing and what it portends for the future of work, check out the resources on TechSoup's cloud page and attend our upcoming webinar on the subject. Some other resources that can help you plan and implement a telework program include:
Finally, TechSoup offers a few donations to registered and qualified organizations that can assist with the transition to cloud computing and telework:
Photo: Kevin H.