IDC Says More People Are Working Away From the Office

The number of employees working remotely is on the rise, says a new survey by International Data Corp. (IDC, Framingham, Mass., The study, "Remote Access Solutions for Corporate Intranets," states that the number of employees accessing LANs remotely grew from 27.6 percent in 1997 to 32 percent in 1998.

According to IDC, the impetus behind the growing role of remote workers within the corporation is related to the increasing deployment of intranets. Intranets enable companies to deliver corporate resources to remote and mobile users. "Increased remote user activity within the corporate enterprise extends across a diverse population," says Stephen Drake, an analyst in IDC’s intranet networking architectures programming. "Day extenders, business travelers, mobile workers, telecommuters and branch office employees are all part of this community."

The study also found that companies supporting more than 500 remote users are further along in the deployment of intranets than companies with fewer than 500 remote users. Remote-centric sites also demonstrated more specific requirements within the enterprise than companies less concerned with remote access. "When companies have a large remote population, everything gets more difficult to support," adds Drake.

Top priorities for remote-centric survey respondents included increased funding for key networking areas, such as WAN equipment management, management of remote access, remote desktops, Internet access and Internet application servers. Also among the answers were: providing remote users with a reliable network, minimizing slowdowns at the remote user desktop, and removing bottlenecks in the LAN backbone.

Fifty-eight percent of the remote-centric sites agreed that extending applications to remote users is driving the company toward using Web interfaces for new applications. "Now that there are so many remote workers, administrators need to give these folks access to the intranet, databases and corporate resources, and Web-enabled apps are an important part of doing that," Drake explains.

In 1999 this growth will continue to rise, according to survey respondents, and the number of remote workers will reach 38.6 percent. "What we’re seeing is that remote workers are no longer the other people that work for the company, but are becoming more vital to the enterprise than ever."