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Telecommuting in London to soar with summer temps

Use of remote network access services will surge as workers shun sweat-soaked commutes, U.K. broadband company says.

The dog days of summer have arrived early across Europe this year, and employers in London are taking pity by letting more workers telecommute, according to U.K. broadband services company Telewest Group.

Telewest, which supplies broadband services to businesses and government clients in Britain, said Wednesday that use of its virtual private network services, which gives employees access to company networks, climbed by more than 20 percent in the first half of the year. Telewest business clients also increased bandwidth services for home and remote workers by 23 percent during that time.

The company attributes those statistics to a surge in telecommuting, a trend it expects will accelerate this summer as a heat wave sweeps across much of Europe.

Londoners are particularly keen on telecommuting, Telewest said. More than 3 million people crowd onto the London Underground each weekday, according to the company. The average commute in the city is between 45 minutes and an hour, the company said.

"Faced with delays and searing heat on the tubes, traffic congestion on the major routes into the city, ineffectual air-conditioning in offices and the possibility of peak time congestion charges on the train, employees are working from home in ever-increasing numbers," Telewest said in a statement Wednesday.

Temperatures in London have neared 90 degrees Fahrenheit in recent weeks, but cooled back down this week to the 70s.

Telewest, which also provides cable and phone services, said customers are forwarding more calls from business lines to home and mobile numbers. It also attributed a 21 percent increase in data and voice traffic on its business networks to a surge in telecommuting.

Telecommuting is on the rise in the United States as well. Last year in the United States, almost 30 million people telecommuted one or more days every couple of weeks, up about 10 percent from the previous year, estimates JALA International, a consulting firm focused on telecommuting.