A partnership between Unisys and the Kapiti community is helping workers avoid the daily commute into Wellington city.
For the past three months Unisys has offered 18 staff — who live from Whitby north — the chance to work from a telecentre at Lindale, north of Wellington.
The concept originally came from the community, through the Kapiti Coast Tele-centre Trust.
Unisys operational support general manager Marcel van den Assum says Unisys became involved from a commercial perspective, sponsoring and then initiating a six-month proof of concept to see if the idea was viable.
The telecentre is about halfway through that proof of concept. Van den Assum says it's going very well and, if judged a success, the telecentre is expected to open officially next year. He says the obvious commercial benefits include financial savings related to commuting. "Then you've also got savings around time. It's interesting that with the two-hour commute from the Kapiti Cost to Wellington and back, half of that ends up being work time — you're gaining productivity from the that perspective."
He says the telecentre is not set up like a branch office. "It's very simple: work-station, docking station, server, printer and photocopying capability. There are no overheads, no administration, no management." He says if done properly it could be seen as an excellent best practice example of the use of technology, and says the telecentre suitable for many private and public sector organisations, as well as workers on contract. It could also be used for private training during down-times in evenings.
He says some of the positive effects of the telecentre are hard to measure but will probably become more clear in the longer term.
"It requires a degree of maturity to not just measure the travel time. For example, how do you measure the positive impact of an environment on the productivity of people?"
He says there's a big shift in many businesses now where a more holistic view is being taken about the quality of work life, and cites Hubbards Food managing director Dick Hubbard's Businesses for Social Responsibility group as a good example.
Van den Assum says Lindale was chosen not just for logistical reasons, but to provide a pleasant location which ultimately raises morale and productivity.
He would like the telecentre to be able to cope with between 20 and 30 people at any one time (with a total group of between 40 and 50 people).