Teleworking Essay, Research Paper
Teleworking Moving The Idea Not The Person Teleworking is a relatively new and increasing form of working resulting from change in our culture employers, employees, the economy and society all benefit from teleworking. Human Culture has changed and is still changing. Our culture went from Gather-Hunters to agricultural to industrial to service oriented. In the last several years our service-oriented society increasingly is moving towards an informational based society. Looking at United States business the service sector is responsible for approximately three fourths of the employment. (Wright, 1998) “The computer is a machine for storing and processing information” (Wright, 1998) The technology that makes personal computers and related hardware work has made teleworking possible. To see how offices are moving into the information age look at any office. One will see lots of computers. “As many as 200 million personal computers are out there. (Wright, 1998). Compare this to business prior to the 1970s when there were virtually no personal computers in the average office. And now about forty percent of American homes even have them. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1999, 1998) Telecommuting and Teleworking are an outgrowth of our increasingly information centered society. Technology has enabled teleworking. “The Department of Transportation estimates that up to 15 million workers may be telecommuting in the next decade… A recent survey of 2,000 U.S. households … found that the number of telecommuters in the U.S. jumped to 11.1 million in 1997, up from 9.7 million in 1996.” (Secretariat for Electronic Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce 1998) TeleCommute Solutions, Inc claims that ” Telecommuting Is Taking Off. More than 15 million people telecommute in the United States today.” (TeleCommute Solutions, Inc 1998) How Widespread Is Teleworking? Teleworking has become worldwide. It is being used in many countries. Teleworkers may use the Internet in their work. Thirty-five percent of today’s telecommuters use the Internet and e-mail…Information technology has opened up new opportunities for global commerce. The signals transmitted over the Internet do not recognize national borders. Work on the same project can be done in several places or several countries without workers having to physically relocate. Organizations can now deploy resources and operations around the world. Information about new product introductions, corporate earnings, forecasted sales patterns, and materials requirements can be shared almost instantaneously via corporate e-mail systems and value-added networks, and now, over the Internet. (Secretariat for Electronic Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce 1998)The World Almanac and Book of Facts states that one hundred million people around the world now use the Internet. It projects that one billion people may use the internet by 2005, (1998) Looking at homes there are 24.9 million home based businesses in the U.S. (Starting a Home Based Business, 1996) Another author Barbara Weltman gives the number as thirty million. 1997) Some attempts have been made in the United States to estimate the number of teleworkers from the prevalence of home-based information technology and the uses to which its owners say it is put. During the 1980s, for instance, a Gallup poll found 40 % of home computer owners saying that they used them for “business or office homework” with a smaller proportion (27%) citing “business in home use”. Another survey, by Yankelovitch, Skelly and White, found 33% of home computer owners stating that their primary use was for business. An IBM survey found that 60% of its computers which sold for $2,000 or more were being used in the home and that over half of these home computers were being used primarily for business-related purposes. A further 11 % were being transported between home and office. Olson’s survey of 598 Datamation readers found that 64,5% of these data processing professionals sometimes worked at home in addition to their regular office work, 12,4% did it as an occasional substitute and 6,2% worked exclusively from home. More recently, attempts have been made to estimate the numbers of mobile workers from sales of portable technology such as mobile phones and laptop computers. In 1994, for instance, New York-based consultants Link Resources drew on such information (along with other sources) to produce their estimate that there are currently seven million mobile teleworkers in the USA, with number predicted to grow to 25 million by the year 2000. Many companies today are letting employees work at home. “More than 50% of US companies now allow their employees to telework (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and DGXIII European Commission, 1998) What Is Teleworking?”Teleworking is a new form of working still in a process of evolution.” (Accart, 1997) This is a fairly new term often confused with telecommuting. The word “telecommuting” came first. The American Heritage dictionary of The English Language defines telecommuting as the practice of working at home by using a modem and a computer terminal connected with one’s business office. (1996) The word teleworking is too new to be found in dictionaries. Teleworking obviously refers to working by means of distance. “Networking and by extension teleworking are not a single, easily-measured phenomenon but, on the contrary, comprises a range of different types of employment which have in common only the fact that they involve some form of relocation of work which has been facilitated by the combined use of information and communication technologies.” (Accart, 1997)”Any work based activity that contains elements of information transmission via communication technology, carried out in a location which is separate from the central organization or office.” (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and DGXIII European Commission, 1998) The word telework also may imply the use telematic devices and systems such as the computer modem, telephone, TV, fax, beepers, to receive and send information. These devices allow teleworkers to overcome many problems involving distance and time. And of course all of the above involve working with and exchanging information in often in several forms. Telework, therefore, involves communicating information between people in such a wayThat distance and time constraints are removed. Full implementations of teleworking letpeople work where they wish to work and at times they wish to work. It also implies onemajor advance over traditional working relationships: work travels to people rather thanthe traditional concept of people travelling to work. (The European Commission, 1998) Variations Of Telework There are variations based on several factors. Those based on location include: working physically at home, working at a satellite office or telecenter which may be shared with other workers, working at a temporary location such as an airport, car, van, hotel, office of a customer or other non fixed location. Then there are variations based on numbers of workers including working alone known as solitary teleworking. The worker usually works away from the main office.Several workers at a location known is known as group-based teleworking. But since the definition is not rigid this could also mean groups of workers at scattered locations. A new term telecottage is a new name for an office equipped with the equipment needed to service groups of teleworkers. These people may even work for different employers.Freelance teleworking is yet another variation, which consists of freelance workers, who may even work for a number of different employers. Finally there is also a variation known as flexible teleworking in which work times, work groups, work locations may vary. The amount of time spent teleworking versus amount of time spent at regular work may vary. Workers may work away from the office for varying numbers of hours. They may leave the office work to telework or they may just visit the office. Benefits Of Teleworking For The IndividualTeleworking offers benefits for the individual, the family, the employer, and for societyFirst the individual may benefit greatly from teleworking. The possible elimination of a frustrating commute that causes stress, often wastes hours weekly and entails significant expense is in itself a significant motivation for many individuals to seek this kind of work. So many people: waste ten or more hours a week in driving on crowded, roads with hundreds stressful traffic decisions to be made, sometimes in bad weather, stop and go traffic, dealing with aggressive drivers, traffic accidents, car problems, car repairs, and sometimes huge transportation expenses. When all of that could be replaced with a few steps to the home office taking just a few seconds of time and practically no expense. Telecommuting benefits employees, as well. For those who need to balance work commitments with family commitments, telecommuting provides the means for working and communicating with coworkers and clients from home. Employees working part-time can manage their time more effectively, spending
less time driving to one or more offices, and instead focusing on completing work assignments. (Secretariat for Electronic Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce 1998) There are also reduced costs for clothing, gasoline, oil, and insurance.Also one arrives at the home office fresh, unstressed and ready to work. This can result in greater productivity. There is a greater safety factor for those working at home. Reduced job stress, greater job satisfaction. Work hours can be much more flexible. Example a child needs to go to the doctor. There is less change of having to take time off without pay.Benefits Of Teleworking For The Family Benefits for the family are of course that one can be increased time at home to monitor the family situation. If children are distraction many home workers being in a caregiver at less expense than the typical day care. If a child is sick and or home from school the worker need not take unpaid time off from work. The home office can be located in a separate room. Of particular note is that Telework can free many women to work who would otherwise be tied down by family responsibilities. This leads to more sex-equality in the workplace and better pay for female workers. Or at least a paycheck where before hand it may have been nearly impossible to work at all outside of the home.Benefits Of Teleworking For The Employer The employer can benefit in several ways: lower expense for office rent, maintenance and insurance because smaller facilities are needed for less workers. Better productivity, improved worker satisfaction resulting in better employee retention, reduced job stress. Employers can recruit better quality employees from a larger pool of workers because if the employee need not come to the office as often they can live farther away. Indeed some employees may work from across the country. Since work times can be more flexible workers can handle doctors appointments, sick children home from school, with less or no time off from work.Since the employee does not have to spend hours commuting that gives them more time to make up for situations like doctor visits. Less job stress leads to less sick days taken. One point observed is the greater productivity of teleworkers: the increase is about 20 %. A teleworker produces a report more quickly than a comparable worker based in an office. (Accart, 1997) Organizations with telecommuting programs report an increase in productivity, faster completion of assignments, fewer sick or absent days, better time management and increased morale and commitment to the company. They also benefit from reduced office space needs and associated costs, an enhanced ability to attract and retain quality employees, and improved customer service. (Secretariat for Electronic Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce 1998) Employers may also benefit from a better gender mix and good productivity from otherwise unemployable female employees. Finally adding teleworkers may benefit the entire organization itself because it may add a new dimension to the organization that takes some of the load off of the on-site staff unless teleworkers are used to replace on-site staff.Benefits Of Teleworking For SocietySociety benefits also in several ways. Other benefits: less traffic congestionThe president in the state of union address urged employers to be friendlier toward families. Teleworking allows this to happen to a larger extent than traditional work. The economy benefits because of greater numbers of employed because of the numbers of people who are made more employable when limitations of distance, time, and handicaps are removed. There are positive effects on energy use and on the environmentOther possible effects are improving competitiveness and generating new business and employment opportunities: the technologies involved can form the basis of new industries and services; the productivity and efficiency of enterprises can be improved increasing their market share ; new forms of teamworking, collaboration or telepartnership can be open up; relocation of work in economically deprived… The new technologies can bring about improvements in the quality of life, through the introduction of new services such as telemedicine, telebanking, teleshopping. (Accart, 1997) Human Resource Benefits There are improved employment opportunities for large numbers of potential employees including the handicapped. Disabled workers can particularly benefit. Special devices can be installed at their home workstation that allows them to perform as well as non-disabled workers. They gain equal access to the work environment. Increased opportunities Job sharing can be made a reality with its often-higher productivity. “Remote work has tremendous potential to benefit the organization, the individual, and society.” (International Telework Association and Council 1998) There appears to be an increase in teleworking, which proves its acceptance by society, employers and workers. Teleworking offers undoubted opportunities for improved work output, productivity and effectiveness. It also enables both organizations and society to ‘engineer’ opportunities to help develop the kind of social and economic change that will benefit particular societies and members of society. (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and DGXIII European Commission, 1998) Working hours can be restructured perhaps allowing for higher productivity. Staffing problems may be reduced through the use of more part-time workers, flextime, and or job-sharing”New technologies can bring about improvements in the quality of life, through the introduction of new services such as telemedicine, telebanking, teleshopping” (Accart, 1997) Telecommuting programs can provide annual savings of up to $12,000 per telecommuter. Telecommuting Is Taking Off More than 15 million people telecommute in the United States today. If 10-20% of traditional commuters switched to telecommuting, savings would total $23 billion annually. It would eliminate 1.8 million tons of regulated pollutants, saving 3.5 billion gallons of gas, freeing up 3.1 billion hours of personal time from reduced congestion and automobile trips, and reducing maintenance costs for existing transportation infrastructure by $500 million. Study by Arthur D. Little and Associates Tight Job Market Nearly 70% of executives believe attracting and retaining quality front-line workers will become increasingly difficult by 2005, and more than 60% expect the same of executive positions Deloitte and Touche Survey Attract & Retain Key Employees Money is no longer the primary motivator for employees – growth opportunities, genuine empowerment, quality of life and interesting work will increasingly become more important. FIND/SVP Competitive Advantage More than 50 percent of North American companies have telecommuting programs and nearly 75 percent of those companies are planning to expand their programs. William Olsten Center for Workplace Strategies Reduce Relocation Costs Cost of moving current employees is between $34,000 – $ 47,000 for home owners, and between $9,000 – $14,000 for renters Employee Relocation. (TeleCommute Solutions, Inc 1998) The Down Side Of Teleworking. Some people do not like working alone and do not like teleworking. Salary levels are often lower than for comparable traditional jobs located in the office. Management of distance employees can be a challenge. Some people want to get away from their family and kids and do not want to work at home. Promotion possibilities may be less than for on site staff. Many workers need to be trained in order to do telework. Subcontracting may be needed and or used to eliminate staff and expenses. On site staff can be downsized to a point that the organization is not as efficient. Full time on-site workers could be laid off and be replaced with part time teleworkers. Conclusion In practice the benefits far outweigh the above negative points. Teleworking is a growing way of working that benefits families, workers, employers and the economy. References Accart Jean-Philippe (1997). Networks and New Ways of Working: Human Aspects (On-line), Available: http://ifla.inist.fr/ifla/IV/ifla63/63accj.htm The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language (3rd Ed.). (1996). New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.Entrepreneur Magazine Book Starting a Home Based Business (1996) New York: John Wiley and Sons Inc. Famighette, Robert (Ed.)(1998) The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1999 Mahwah, NJ: World Almanac Books. The European Commission, (1998) Psychological Aspects of Teleworking in Rural Areas http://www.swan.ac.uk/psychology/patra/tw_type.htm PATRA study International Telework Association and Council Home Page (1998) (On-line), Available: Http://www_telecommute_org.html) Secretariat for Electronic Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce 1998. The Emerging Digital Economy Workers In The Digital Age (On-line), Available: http://www.ecommerce.gov/danc7.htm TeleCommute Solutions, Inc. Home Page (1998) (On-line), Available: http:///D|/akp/www_telecommuter_com.html Weltman, Barbara. (1997) The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business. New York: Alpha Books. Wright, John (Ed.). (1998) 1999 New York Times Almanac New York, New York: Penguin Books.