Push for home-working for parents during summer holidays

Parents trying to juggle childcare should have more recourse to be able to work from home, says a leading firm specialising in remote desk top technology.  Workingmums.co.uk looks at the options available for parents and companies during the summer holidays.

The need for home-working
Difficulties finding and affording adequate childcare have increased this summer and have led to more calls for firms to let employees work from home during the long vacation.
Parents whose finances are limited and who have no recourse to help from grandparents or other relatives during the holidays want to be able to work from home in a bid to cut down costs.
National childcare charity the Daycare Trust has highlighted just how expensive these holidays will be for working parents this year.  Spending cuts have resulted in 40% of local authorities suffering a decrease in holiday childcare provisions for hard-pressed parents.  Only one fifth of local authorities say they have sufficient holiday childcare in place. The charity has estimated the average cost of childcare in Britain this summer will be £558 per child.
One mum, who wanted to remain anonymous, told Workingmums.co.uk: ”I’m stuck for childcare for part of the holidays for my two children.  It costs more to pay out for childcare than I get in my salary, so I’m going to have to take unpaid time off work this summer.  I could quite easily work from home for some days, but my employer won’t allow it because it would set a precedent.”
Andrew Millard, director of marketing and e-Commerce EMEA, Citrix Online, which provides online technology to allow employees to work from anywhere, says productivity need not be compromised by parents working from home. He told Workingmums.co.uk: ”It’s easy to see how school holidays can put pressure on working parents who find themselves burdened with extra childcare costs or being forced to take unpaid leave to look after their children.  And the potential impact of the longer summer break on small to medium-sized business employers in particular shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when they can be faced with skeleton workforces during such times.”

Is it possible to work from home?
In some jobs, the answer is ‘yes’.  Web conferencing and remote access technology can give workers the capacity to collaborate with their colleagues and clients wherever they are located.  Millard says: ”Solutions are readily available and financially within reach of even the smallest business.  By providing tools that enable PC or Mac users to securely and easily gain remote access to their office computer, businesses can ensure employees are able to use all of their files, email and applications to work at any time of day, from any location.  And for employees who regularly collaborate with others, simple web conferencing tools will enable them to host or join an online meeting at the touch of a button where they can share their screen and interact just as if they were there in person.”

But is it secure?
Some employers are wary of allowing company data to be accessed away from the workplace.  Horror stories of MoD staff losing laptops holding highly sensitive information have fed into fears about the security of information which, if compromised, could play into competitors’ hands.
Millard acknowledges such concerns could have been justified in the past, but now new technological improvements have significantly led to a tightening-up of security.
Home-workers can benefit from:
* Highly compressed encrypted system
* Screen sharing
* Drag-and-drop file transfer between computers
* Remote printing where you can print from your computer to a printer wherever you are
* Host computer, footprint server and browser
* Essential safety – secure operation and integrating with a company’s existing network and security infrastructure
* Firewalls
”Critically, bosses can be sure that every interaction takes place in a completely secure environment – in the past a real concern in letting staff have remote access to the corporate network,” said Millard.  ”By providing the tools to enable all employees to work from anywhere, businesses can help employees to achieve a work-life balance that will increase satisfaction levels and staff retention, while maintaining productivity levels and minimising disruption to the business.”

On Monday: How home-working during the summer benefits parents and children

Comments [1]

  • says:

    I just wondered whether anybody else has experienced a situation like I have? I work for a large organisation (NHS) in an office based role with no patient contact. The NHS offers flexible working including home working. The problem is, when people apply almost all applications are turned down. In my case the initial "friendly chat" left me in tears but I persevered. It was no surprise to be turned down. I recently attended a meeting with HR and mentioned home working again. The person asked what grade I am and when I told her I was a grade 2 (not very senior) she said I couldn’t work from home! I have researched into this and found that most similar organisations get round the "allowing flexible working" by asking one member of staff to work from home, usually a web designer or administrator. This then allows the organisation to say it allows staff to work from home! I don’t know what the use of offering flexible working is if they won’t let anybody do it. My employers can’t seem to see the advantages of allowing people to work from home – unless they are of a more senior grade than I am of course!! I’d be interested to hear if anybody else has had similar problems.

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