Rising petrol prices may lead to 'people-less offices'

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Melbourne, July 28 : Rising petrol prices are adversely affecting businesses, according to a survey.

About 49 per cent of the 1000 businesses surveyed said that the impact was "very significant".

The survey conducted by CNET for 3 Mobile showed that 66 per cent of the respondents were businesses with fewer than 100 employers, while 27.8 per cent had just two to nine employees.

Such respondents covered a range of industries, including construction, education, heat, retail and IC and T (installation, checkout and test).

The survey also revealed that many businesses feared the unpleasant prospect of passing on the rising costs to their customers or clients, and were thus exploring new ways of conducting their operations.

About 61 per cent of the respondents said that they were allowing more flexible work hours for their staff so that they could counter the increased transport costs, while 57 per cent were giving their staff mobile communications tools so that they could work from home.

"With the technology that's available today, operators can work from places other than head office," News.com.au quoted 3 Mobile's general manager of business sales Michael Cheshire as saying.

He said that a decade ago the buzzwords were "the paperless office", and that the prospect of a "people-less office" was not too far-fetched.

"If you add the survey results together, it leads in that direction. The uptake of mobile broadband and email is stronger than ever," he said.

Michael also revealed that big business houses were supplying equipment for the staff, but small businesses required individuals to buy the equipment for themselves.

He said that face-to-face contacts could not be replaced with electronic communications in the some business sectors - retail, construction or hands-on health care.

"But the use of technology can lessen transportation requirements, such as how many times you need to go back to the office to collect emails," Michael said.

"New technology enables people to be more time efficient," he added.

ANI

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