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SMEs shrug off big freeze saving £333m with smart working

4th February 2009 Print
BT announced that on Monday (2 February 2009), broadband traffic from its consumer customer base was 20 per cent up on the same day the previous week, as snow and treacherous conditions stopped millions of people getting into work.

The businesses worst hit by temporary loss of workforce worked from home. Many of these workers were able to use their domestic broadband connections. However, businesses who had already tied flexible and home-working into their communications strategies were even better off with staff having access to intranets, audio and video conferencing and other company systems at home or on the move. BT Business estimates that flexible working could have saved the SME sector £333 million in one day alone.

The winter of 1991 saw periods of extremely heavy snow combined with strong winds, followed by a big freeze. The treacherous conditions and snowdrifts of more than three metres high crippled road and rail networks and disrupted an economy already in recession. Millions of people had to stay at home and do very little or suffer the stress, discomfort and danger of getting into work because there was no alternative – broadband wasn’t around then.

Bill Murphy, BT Business’ managing director, said: “Thanks to the penetration of technologies in the home that enable flexible working, including broadband, laptop computers and PDAs such as the Blackberry, the weather may stop transport systems, but it has not hit many SMEs in the same way that it did in 1991, particularly those that have already enabled staff to access the same information and systems from home that they have in their workplace.”

For those interested in recent history, 1991 also saw Bryan Adams in the charts for 16 weeks with Everything I Do, Hannibal Lecter eating liver with fava beans and a nice chianti in Silence of the Lambs, the launch of Noel’s House Party and, perhaps with the weather in mind, the introduction of the Puffa jacket!