Up to 10% of BT’s 100,000 UK office-based staff could be working from home by April 2000.
In a scheme to save £134m a year on office space and overheads, the company also aims to slash the number of inner London workstations from 10,000 to 3,000. Its overall target is to reduce the ratio of workstations to office-based people to 1:2.
The number of teleworkers in the UK is expected to double to around 4 million by the end of next year. Consumer service gas technicians already work from home, using laptop computers and mobile phones to log work and set schedules. Other engineering sectors may follow this example, including customer support, service and sales engineers in the machine tool sector.
BT already has around 3,500 staff working from home. It pays for office equipment, computers and fax machines, and installs high-speed communications links to bring the workers into virtual contact.
BT is also adopting a working practice known as hoteling. This allows the company to give mobile workers short-stay access to office facilities without the having to provide dedicated workstations. It means mobile workers can share office facilities.
BT has admitted that some workers may need counselling to adapt to home-working. It says that trained advisers will be on hand to help with change-over.
The company claims the exercise will also cut pollution by eliminating the need for 10,000 people to travel to work. It plans to launch its own teleworking systems in July and hopes this will act as a showcase for its products.