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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Computer surfing on the beach
Telenor staff
Telenor's workers use their 'timeslots' efficiently
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By Jorn Madslien
BBC News Online business reporter
The workplace of the future was on display in glitzy new buildings at Oslo's former airport on Tuesday.

The Norwegian telecoms company Telenor, which has moved to the idyllic seaside surroundings at Fornebu, launched what it claimed to be Europe's largest wireless workplace.

The Wireless Zone, which was developed together with Cisco, Accenture and Birdstep Technology, is impressive - if for no other reason than its extensive reach.

"It stretches all the way to the sea; our staff can work on the beach," Telenor Business Solutions' wireless technology product manager, Stein Andre Larner, told BBC News Online.

Which is good news given that their personal office spaces are minute.

Though they can work anywhere they like within the "clean desks" environment, overnight Telenor's workers have to cram the tools of their job into 40x40 centimetre cupboards.

The situation brings new meaning to the phrase 'size matters'.


Though, if all else fails, why not rely on a big, fat wallet?

That is what companies who adopt Telenor's solution should be able to do, given that the latest Telenor offering should enable them to squeeze more productivity out of their workers.

Telenor headquarters at Fornebu, Oslo
Telenor's staff can even work on the beach

More efficient working practices should save 20 minutes of wasted time each day for each employee, Mr Larner predicted, citing international research.

This, he insisted, would be done by putting to better use workers' non-productive "timeslots" - those moments before a meeting starts or while waiting for the kettle to boil.

For example, a recent meeting Mr Larner was due to attend was delayed. During the wait he popped outside for a quick cigarette.

And because he was still inside the Wireless Zone, he was able to shoot off a couple of quick e-mails at the same time.

Online, always

This is the key to the wireless workplace, which Telenor is now trying to sell to companies.

Workers are online, all the time, wherever they are within the company.

Their portable computers are never turned off, not even while people move within their workplace.

Consequently, there is no time lost logging on and off the network.

The Wireless Zones are not even limited to one location.

Zones in different parts of the country can be interconnected, even when the zones belong to different companies, Mr Larner said.

Even small cities could be made into Wireless Zones that enable people to stay connected permanently.

No escape?

But this is not necessarily the way employees want to live.

Indeed, even Mr Larner acknowledge that as with most communication technology there are flip sides.

"We are 100% contactable these days, so we have to set our own personal limits for when we want to be available," he said.

After all, he stressed, "I don't take the PC with me every time I pop outside for a cigarette".

See also:

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Wireless networks wide open
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