High petrol prices to drive remote working take-up

Mark Heraghty, managing director of Virgin Media Business has written a brief guest blog post for us on how a Virgin Media Business survey has shown that commuters could save thousands by working from home once a week. Mark Heraghty was appointed as Managing Director for Virgin Media Business in June 2009. He leads the Business Division’s senior management team with direct responsibilities for the leadership of sales, marketing, product management and customer operations in the UK business market with a focus on spearheading growth. Mark has been involved with the telecommunications industry for the last 17 years, previously as CEO UK and Europe for Cable and Wireless and more recently with Reliance Globalcom, where he was President EMEA, with regional responsibility for the former FLAG Telecom and Vanco businesses that Reliance acquired in 2004 and 2008.

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The average petrol price skyrocketed to £1.20 per litre last weekend, thanks to a combination of rocketing oil prices and Alistair Darling’s extra 1.2p fuel duty. Luckily for commuters, Virgin Media Business has found that people enduring the average commute of 19 miles could save £16 by ditching the car and working from home once a week. This tots up to more than £3,800 a year.

The daily drive to work can be a real bugbear for commuters and in many cases it’s totally unnecessary. Advances in technology mean that most workers can now do their job equally well, if not better, from home. The fact that staff could save money, while enjoying a better work/life balance is really the icing on the cake.

However, it’s not just employees that could benefit. As less office space is required, businesses can reduce overheads by moving to smaller offices with lower rents. Advances in technology mean that it’s now easier than ever to facilitate remote working. Often all that staff need to work remotely is a laptop and a home broadband connection. This, combined with secure access to a Virtual Private Network and a phone, gives staff all they need to operate as a team, regardless of their location. Tools such as Unified Communications and Instant Messaging can make it even simpler for colleagues to communicate. With businesses of all sizes looking to drive savings at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised if more employers started to encourage staff to work remotely.

A few facts:

The average commuter drives 19 miles a day according to research by liftshare.com.

Petrol prices are based on an average of 120p and added to local parking fees. Local parking fees were estimated by finding the average of five city-centre car parks for each town. Petrol costs were discerned by working on the premise that the average car with a 2.0 litre engine will travel 10 miles to the litre.

Note that cities surveyed included Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Reading.