In late September 2010, a Cisco employee somewhere in the world became the 20,000th to begin using Cisco Virtual Office at home. Cisco Virtual Office, which combines a small business router and IP phone, extends the enterprise wired and wireless network right into our homes. Telework is optional in most cases at Cisco, so the 20,000 milestone underscores the fact that our workforce and the company see the value of telework, and that we have the tools to make it work.
And if you want remote access — You NEED a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you are thinking of cutting costs, offering remote access may not be the first thing that comes to mind. It may even seem counter-intuitive to add a service to cut costs. However adding remote access to your network not only increases productivity by allowing employees to work when they are not in the office, it also allows you to cut costs by reducing real estate requirements and even allowing you to use more contract workers which can mean a reduction in benefit costs.
It’s no secret that people like to work at home. I work at home. I love working at home. I have zero commute, I put less that 5,000 miles on my car last year; I don’t have dry cleaning expenses and, sometimes, yes it’s true; I work in my PJs. Some jobs necessitate that employees are in the office and but there’s more room for creativity than you may think. I once stayed in a hotel where the long-time concierge had to move for family reasons. Rather than let her go, the hotel set up a video conference solution for her. She could do everything from home even printing reservations and directions for guests who loved the novelty of the situation and also were impressed by her vast knowledge of the city. Had the hotel not made this arrangement, they would have lost her expertise.
What is a secret about remote access (shh, let’s keep this between us) is that remote workers cost less! My director’s budget is charged for every cube in her department. Not mine though. I don’t run up cell phone costs traveling between buildings. My **** never leaves my seat, so my co-workers can always reach me. Even if your company budget isn’t as prickly as issuing department charge-backs for office space, you still need to pay for facility space. My company doesn’t pay for my copy paper, paperclips, printer, office furniture and so on. I don’t call in sick to work, I don’t miss work due to inclement weather and I’m never late because of traffic. (though things can get pretty intense around the espresso machine if my husband and I are there at the same time). Right now over 34 million people work remotely for at least part of their jobs according to Forrester Research, by 2016 over 43% of U.S. workers will be telecommuters.
OK, so telecommuters aren’t drinking your coffee, using the washroom, or stealing paperclips, how does all that add up in savings? According to the Telework Research Network a teleworker saves the average company $10,000 per year (they have a customizable savings calculator on their site). And the employee saves anywhere between $1,800 and $6,000 per year in commuting expenses. One of our customers, Chorus, eliminated all office space by going completely remote. This saved them $400,000 per year in office space. They also saw an improvement in customer service, employees working from home were more efficient. As Rick Boyd, vice president of infrastructure for Chorus said “When you take the commute out of the day, people work longer but are happier.”
What is a VPN?
As part of a small business security solution, A VPN sets up a private Internet (IP) connection that uses encryption and authentication to protect the communications traversing it. Acting like private and exclusive tunnels from one place to another, VPNs extend your business to wherever it needs to go: home or satellite offices, shared workspaces, coffeehouses, or anywhere else your workers use their laptops, PCs, or IP phones. These private tunnels protect your data to ensure that it’s secure.
How much does a VPN solution cost?
I posed this question to Ryan Halper, CEO of Cynnex Solutions, a Cisco Select Partner in Seattle, WA that specializes in small business solutions. He told me that there are several factors to consider such as the number of VPN users [Remote Workers], the degree of redundancy (the backup technology), the type of connectivity (data, video, and/or voice services; software or always-on hardware solutions), and the network security hardware already in place. He says that many companies start with basic systems and then later upgrade to solutions that include redundancy and voice service.
I asked Ryan to be more specific and he told me that it’s not as expensive as you might think.
- For a company that has a few dozen users and has a VPN device such as a Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance in place licensing would roughly run $80 to $120 per user
- If you need to purchase a device a Cisco ASA 5505 would be about $1000 for 10 users
If you can save $10,000 a year per teleworker that’s a really great investment! Now, how many of your employees and contractors could perform their work remotely? How much will this save your business in overhead expenses? A Cisco partner can help you select the VPN solution that’s right for you.