Telecommuting Essay Research Paper Telecommuting

Telecommuting Essay, Research Paper


Telecommuting is a very interesting and complex subject. The pros and cons

of this concept are numerous and both sides have excellent arguments. In the

research I’ve done I feel I have to argue both sides to maintain a sense of

perspective. I had mixed feelings about telecommuting before I started this

research and I find that this is something many others have in common with me.

The reasons for and against telecommuting can be complex or simple

depending on which view point you take. From a manager’s view point

telecommuting is a very dangerous undertaking that requires a high readiness

level on the employee’s part. Allowing an employee with a low (R1, or R2)

readiness level to telecommute is not likely to result in a positive manner.

When an employee has a high readiness level and a definite desire to attempt

working in the home, for some reason or another, many factors should be

considered. What kind of schedule does the employee feel constitutes

telecommuting? Generally speaking, telecommuting is defined as spending at

least one day out of a five day work week working in the home. Is one day home

enough for the employee? Or, too little? How does the employer decide how many

days to allow? Does the employee’s job lend itself well to telecommuting? Some

jobs, obviously, can’t be accomplished using a telecommuting format. Does the

employee have a good track record for working unsupervised? This relates back

to readiness levels. An employee who isn’t performing at a high readiness level

should not even be considered as a candidate for telecommuting. All of these

questions and many more must be answered on a case by case basis.

This particular venture into creative scheduling has its ups and downs as

well from an employee’s point of view. It can be quite a bed of roses for both

employee and employer. A lot of nice smells and pretty sights, but watch out

for the thorns. In several studies I reviewed I noticed that the telecommuting

population loses many of the basics of the social contacts associated with the

office environment. Judging the correct amount of time that an employee should

spend working at home in relation to working at the office can have a

significant impact on both performance and satisfaction. It’s usually hard for

someone to completely cut themselves off from their work environment and still

perform well. The sense of being out of touch with the others in the work force

can be mitigated by the use of e-mail, teleconferencing, and the ever faithful

telephone. These devices, in a best case scenario, can completely substitute

for face to face interaction. That’s a strong statement and I would like to

explain a few conditions. The best case scenario assumes an individual is at a

very high readiness level and has very little perceived need for social

interaction with the other office employees. In a worst case scenario an

employee can lose touch with the pulse of the office, lose motivation, and their

readiness level could drop. This type of scenario is likely to get out of hand

if the employee is never in the office to receive the appropriate feedback.

It sounds as if I’m not really impressed with telecommuting but that’s not

true. Let’s look at a few of the really solid benefits for the employer. The

employer can offer telecommuting as an option for prospective employees to

improve recruitment. The current employees could be offered it to keep them

around. Saving one employee could save the company a large amount of money.

“Most employers don’t keep accurate records of the costs of losing good

employees and finding and retraining replacements, but there have been estimates

ranging from $30,000 to over $100,000 to replace a professional.” The ever

present crunch for space could drive a company to reduce the amount of office

space it requires. Telecommuting makes the employee provide his own office

space. It’s been shown that telecommuting does increase productivity with

typical increases in the 15 to 25 percent range. These gains may come from the

significantly less time a person spends at the company water cooler. A company

can improve customer service by making use of telecommuters. It would cost much

less to have a few people answering phones at home at 3 o’clock in the morning

than running a skeleton crew in a heated/air-conditioned, lighted, and such

office building.

So what’s in it for the employee? That depends mostly on which particular

employee we are referring too. Telecommuting allows someone with a physical

handicap that could not actually commute to the workplace to still function as a

valuable employee. It would allow someone who has small children and feels a

great need to be home for them to still work and have a career. The distance an

employee must travel daily to work is a factor that can induce great amounts of

frustration and expense into their lives. Telecommuting can alleviate this

stress. Job satisfaction can be enhanced by allowing greater freedom and

bestowing greater responsibility. Employees should be aware of some of the

pitfalls of telecommuting as well as the benefits. It is estimated that

telecommuters earn less overall then office workers. As a general rule a

professional telecommuter will earn approximately 91% of the wage of an office

working professional and clerical workers.

All of these considerations must factor into a decision by a company to

implement a telecommuting program. Many factors must be taken into account and

clear organizational goals must be stated. It is vitally important for the

management to support the program and for a great degree of trust to exist

between employer and employee. Implementation of a pilot program can take years

and involve many aspects of the company as a whole.

On the whole, I am impressed with the possibilities that telecommuting

presents and daunted by the problems that can crop up. I feel that a well

thought out, carefully planned, and conscientiously applied program can benefit

most companies in most situations. I don’t feel that telecommuting is for every

company but it could certainly benefit many.


1. Byte Magazine, May 91, Vol. 16 Issue 5, “Is it Time to Telecommute?”, Don

Crabb, et al. 2. Compute! Magazine, Oct. 91, Vol. 13 Issue 10, “Workplace”, D.

Janal 3. The New Era of Home Based Work: Directions and Policies, Kathleen E.

Christensen, WestView Press, 1988 4. Telecommuting: The Organizational and

Behavioral Effects of Working at Home, Reagan Mays Ramsower, UMI Research Press,



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