AS Scotland grinds to a halt once again this week – with offices closed, roads impassable and trains and airports hampered by atrocious weather – technology sector companies are reporting that the adverse weather is having little or hardly any impact on business.
Says a spokesperson: “Of the companies surveyed, 70 per cent reported they were losing hardly any business and only 18 per cent reported ‘a little’.
“Ninety-five of ICT businesses advised that their staff are able to work from home effectively; however, it isn’t compete ‘virtual office’ heaven as 42 per cent confirmed they do need to have some staff in the office.”
Polly Purvis, executive director of ScotlandIS, said: “Many employers don’t need to risk asking staff to travel in difficult conditions when they don’t need to.
“Increasingly, businesses can conduct day to day operations with staff staying at home and using email, skype and telephone and video conferencing so that they can work from anywhere and still access corporate information.”
Formal policies and guidelines
The spokesperson added: “Thirty per cent of companies have a specific bad weather policy, applicable in exceptional weather conditions. All have some guidelines on when staff should consider working from home.
“Many employers now take staff’s childcare responsibilities into account with regards to home-working guidelines, with 82 per cent confirming this was part of their policy
“Asked whether firms reimburse their staff for transport costs 36 per cent said ‘No’ and a further 50 per cent advised they only do so ‘in exceptional circumstances’.
“Asked how much of a nuisance having their premises out of action is, most companies reported that having their premises closed for one-two days due to the weather was not an issue; (85 per cent), by three-to-five days it starts to be a ‘slight nuisance’ (50 per cent). However, businesses predicted that over a week’s closure would be a considerable nuisance/real problem (66 per cent).”
Alan Hill, client director for Computacentre UK, said:
“The majority of our Edinburgh-based staff – sales, administration, projects, consultants – are all equipped with a secure, remote connectivity capability which enables them to work from home with access to mail and other key applications.
“This has been of huge benefit during the course of the extreme adverse weather conditions of the last week or so. Even though about 80 per cent of the staff have not been able to make it into the office, it has been pretty much business as usual.”
The spokesperson added: “With weather conditions making it dangerous to travel, businesses have been coming up with new ways of delivering their services.:
Cameron Leask, managing director of Escrivo, said:
“One of our clients, Central Scotland Ballet School, normally conducts classes in a range of community venues for 600 students every week, but all their venues have been closed recently because of the snow – so all classes have had to be cancelled.
“Using easily available technology tools and a £15 webcam, we set up a live video stream of dance classes from one of their teachers’ homes, straight into the comfort of the student’s own homes.
“It’s a great example of using technology to address the business impact of bad weather – students and parents have been really positive about the classes and with the conditions set to continue, more classes are likely to be streamed.”
Notes for editors:
The survey was undertaken across the ScotlandIS membership on 2nd December 2010, after a week of snow. A representative sample of members responded, from small specialist businesses to multinationals.
- For more information on the Central Scotland Ballet School live screening, go to www.escrivo.com/news
- For further information please contact: Lesley Ferguson, Perceptive Partners on 07762 769 659 or Julie Moulsdale, Perceptive Partners on 07734 932 578
Polly Purvis, ScotlandIS on 01506 472200
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Contact: Lesley Ferguson