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Better broadband - helping high tech workers work from home
Monday 06 February 2012 17:16:01 by Andrew Ferguson

Broadband has since it emerged from trials in the UK in 2000 has allowed people to work from home, thus it is no surprise to see home working being trumpeted as one of the benefits for the superfast broadband roll-outs planned.

"We really wanted to come back to Norfolk to be closer to family and to let our kids grow up as we had, with the lovely Norfolk countryside and people. This wouldn't have been possible, however, if it wasn't for broadband and it’s no coincidence that we moved into Great Moulton at exactly the same time that broadband arrived there too. Being in the technology industry, however, I also get to see what’s coming down the pipe and one thing is for certain – we’re going to need faster internet connections.

If we don’t, then people who live in our beautiful county will soon start to fall behind the people who live in cities in terms of the services and communications they can access."

Neil Collins, a senior manager for Metaswitch Networks

The Eastern Daily Press article highlights that homeworking has progressed beyond just simply replying to emails while sat in the garden. In 2012 it involves remote access to company resources that may be located all over the world, taking part in video conferences and long team meetings where people share documents and real time product demos.

This flexibility and access to a decent connection is one of the key things to the growth of online workplaces like, where clients can pay per hour, with screenshots and video uploaded to document the time that homeworkers are actually working on a project. The model used by oDesk favours those who are able to charge low rates, which will often be people in Eastern Europe it seems (based on hours worked on their website per country), but for contractors in the UK, or those who have specialist skills a good broadband connection is the key to staying in contact with a client. The reporting system also provides some structure, which all too often people who have worked in an office environment struggle to cope with when first working from home.


Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
And some people did homeworking with a 128k ISDN2 line last century!
Posted by dustofnations over 5 years ago
Being videoed is rather stalkerish and Orwellian. Surely they can just use statistics on what a worked produces (calls answered, tickets resolved, projects completed, ...), rather than needing to directly observe and record the employee.

I work from home often, and the thought of being spied on in my own home is extremely unsettling. People will take the jobs, because they are desparate, but I'd not trust remotely controlled surveillance software anywhere near my private property.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
I thought the UK (more likely, the EU) had rules about how much intrusive monitoring of staff an employer was permitted to do?

UK senior management in my experience are generally a clueless bunch who would far rather have dumb unhappy staff in the office being unproductive but where they can be clocked in and out, whereas clued up managers might prefer smarter more motivated staff working productively (but somewhere away from where management can see them - home is not the only option).
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
You don't need high speed BB to work from home. Our office (four software and one hardware developers) manages just fine with 4Mb/s down and 1.5Mb/s up even though the rest of our team is in Minneapolis.

Occasionally we have to pull down large Exchange or SharePoint databases but we can do that overnight. In most cases we just remote into their systems rather than pull the data locally.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
We can't video conference with that connection but frankly a telephone conference is good enough. The only aspect our of connection that is sometimes troublesome is reliability. It's two bonded long lines so occasionally drops for half a minute.
Posted by KevG123 over 5 years ago
And we're just planning to move out of Norfolk and back to civilisation - due to the awful infrastructure here, including very poor broadband coverage
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Its vital that everywhere is connected with something fit for purpose. That is why funding was made available, for areas of market failure. Its up to every rural area to get together and come up with a solution in their own way, working individually gets you nowhere. A satellite or a wibe will get you online in the remotest places but for a futureproof solution we need fibre. Nothing else can deliver what is coming... and more will move to cities or waste time and money commuting.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
A local video company was considering relocating, and several others have taken offices in the nearest towns. Its cheaper than getting a leased line in to the area. The migration from rural areas is inevitable if something doesn't happen soon.

Get enough people together, then you can afford to peer on some dark fibre, build your own network of people. Like B4RN.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
All TV will end up coming through the internet.
Vast amounts of money, time and carbon can be saved by video conferencing. All this will be missed by you and your family AndrueC.
And when you are old you will either move back to the city, or travel to hospital consultations instead of having the consultant chat to you on your tv set. The future is coming. how many more bonded lines are you gonna add to your connection?
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@cd:I think it's you who are missing something. I don't live at my office. I live in a house with a 12Mb/s connection at the moment and FTTC due to go live within a month. My family does not visit the office and is not involved in my teleworking.

If my employers felt the need to improve our data connection they could do so. They already operate a world-wide WAN. All they'd need to do is pay to have some fibre run out here. We don't need it.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
cd - should the government fund the roll out of fibre?
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
Working from home is something I really want to see pushed in the uk, we way behind other developed countries on it.
Posted by SHooton over 5 years ago
Regeneris Consulting has just had a report on superfast broadband impact published for the team behind the Cheshire & Warrington BDUK project. It includes some useful insights on flexible working and other potential impacts, based on researched evidence. See here
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