--> Gill Blog: Connecting Telework to Broadband, BCM and Gas Prices

Gill Blog

Friday, October 14, 2005

Connecting Telework to Broadband, BCM and Gas Prices

Let's play the time machine game for a minute. We'll start by getting in and setting our coordinates back about ten years to late 1995, or early 1996. Although you have recently witnessed the worst act of terrorism on American soil a few months ago at a federal building in Oklahoma City, the whole notion of risk management and business continuity seems better understood in the IT department.

Gas prices are sitting around a buck a gallon, and this crazy thing called the internet is starting to gain a little momentum. In fact, if you're willing to pay on a per-minute basis, you can hook up an internet connection to your phone line at home. By doing so, you can access the latest html-based web pages (and impress your friends using the term "html") at the snap of a finger (well, maybe the snap of a tree trunk in a redwood forest, given the transfer rates of data on a low bandwidth home connection).

You start to think that the time may be right, and you now have the ammunition required to go to your boss and ask what he thinks about setting you up in a remote teleworking arrangement. You unfortunately make that request while he's having a sip of water, because as you finish, he laughs so hard that you're directly in the line of fire of the water spray he spits from his mouth (unfortunately, dry cleaning costs are pretty much the same as they are today).

Prospective teleworkers need not despair. It's time to go Back to the Future, where the world has changed significantly and the stars may actually be working in your favor. For one thing, large scale risky events have become commonplace, so much so that organizations frantically try and keep their business continuity plans updated.

Slow bit rate transfers are now regarded by most people the same way an MP3 aficionado views a 78 RPM phonographic record. Broadband's everywhere, and this can now be used to create a virtual office on an anywhere-anytime basis. Gas prices? Let's just say that when prices in Atlanta briefly topped the $5 a gallon mark a little over a month ago, the times can be characterized as being a little different.

Okay, okay enough of the cute storytelling, I came across a piece the other day that was just fascinating, as the primary basis for justifying telework was made by correlating the costs of broadband with the cost of gas. Check this out:
But there's also an economic driver that's emerged in the past few months and for macroeconomic reasons appears here to stay. For the first time in U.S. history, consumer bandwidth is less expensive than consumer fuel. Think about it: The going rate for broadband connectivity to the home is up to $50 per month (though some business-class services may run as high as $150 per month). If the going rate for gasoline is $3.70 per gallon, those monthly broadband expenditures will buy about 350 to 1,000 miles of commuting (figuring a 25-mile-per-gallon vehicle). That's the equivalent of a daily commute of between 17 and 52 miles. By enabling employees to work virtually, you're allowing them to save what's rapidly becoming a significant line item in their budgets.

Wow, isn't that something? Who could have made a prediction like that just ten short years ago? Just goes to show how quickly the landscape changes, and how much more sense telework makes today.