This assignment is base on the research Literature Review. I have done some findings that I will…
|Authors:||Wienclaw, Ruth A.|
|Source:||Research Starters: Sociology (Online Edition), 2015. 6p.|
|Abstract:||Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which an employee works outside the traditional office or workplace — typically at home or while traveling. Transmission of data, documents, and communication occurs via telecommunications or network technology. One of the key aspects of telecommuting is the flexibility that it offers both the employee and the employer. Telecommuting options range from lone employees working from home to telecommuting centers to virtual organizations without a physical central office. Despite the many touted potential advantages of telecommuting, however, there are many potential disadvantages as well. It is important to create a barrier between work and personal life if one wants to be able to successfully telecommute. There are a number of ways to do this and make telecommuting a viable option. As technology continues to advance and globalization requires new business models, telecommuting will continue to be an attractive option for employee and employer alike.|
|Full Text Word Count:||3998|
|Persistent link to this record (Permalink):||http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=89185784&site=eds-live&scope=site&profile=edsebook|
|Cut and Paste:||http://ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=89185784&site=eds-live&scope=site&profile=edsebook”>Telecommuting.|
Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which an employee works outside the traditional office or workplace — typically at home or while traveling. Transmission of data, documents, and communication occurs via telecommunications or network technology. One of the key aspects of telecommuting is the flexibility that it offers both the employee and the employer. Telecommuting options range from lone employees working from home to telecommuting centers to virtual organizations without a physical central office. Despite the many touted potential advantages of telecommuting, however, there are many potential disadvantages as well. It is important to create a barrier between work and personal life if one wants to be able to successfully telecommute. There are a number of ways to do this and make telecommuting a viable option. As technology continues to advance and globalization requires new business models, telecommuting will continue to be an attractive option for employee and employer alike.
Keywords Globalization; Network; Personal Computer; Postindustrial; Telecommuting; Theory X; Workstation
Work & the Economy > Telecommuting
In today’s postindustrial societies, the economy is no longer dependent on the manufacture of goods (i.e., industrial), but is increasingly based on the processing and control of information and the provision of services. Particularly in those organizations that specialize in information services, many workers no longer need to be physically present with customers, clients, or vendors in order to conduct business. In fact, most office employees today use a personal computer to input data and information, create and manipulate documents, or perform other tasks. Further, the advanced technologies that ushered in the era of postindustrialization also ushered in the era of globalization. This means that one’s customers and vendors are not only across the city or even the nation, but may literally be located on the other side of the globe. Although an occasional international trip may be appropriate, globalization means that most businesses that operate in the global marketplace need to rethink their communication strategies. Because of the dual factors of technology and globalization, dealings with clients often occur either over the phone, by e-mail, or in face-to-face contact outside the company’s offices.
Fortunately, part of the array of advanced technologies available today includes communications technologies. The location where many tasks of postindustrial organizations are accomplished is transparent to the person on the other end of the communication. Therefore, these tasks can frequently be done just as well from a home office as from a centralized office workplace. This is true not only for personal communication, but for larger meetings as well. The Internet can be used to send voice and email messages not only to individuals, but also to large groups of people. In addition, audio and videoconferencing capabilities combined with electronic document exchange capabilities often can obviate the need for local or long-distance travel to meetings. Similarly, video teleconferencing capabilities can allow all participants to be both heard and seen at remote locations. When combined with electronic bulletin boards that allow users to post documents electronically, off-site or remote group members tend to participate fully, sharing not only audio and visual communications in real time, but documents as well.
With little more than a computer and Internet access, workers in one country can communicate nearly instantaneously with workers in another country. Orders can be placed, documents can be shared, and questions can be answered easily without face to face interactions. Although there are organizations that require their employees to come into a centralized office and do their e-mailing, etc. from a common venue, others have realized that many employees can actually do the same work from home, thereby saving the organization the cost of rent, utilities, and other expenses associated with a large physical building. Work performed in this way is often referred to as telecommuting (or teleworking): a situation in which an employee works outside the traditional office or workplace — typically at home or on travel. Telecommuters have little face-to-face contact with coworkers. Most communications take place electronically through e-mail, messaging, data sharing, telephone, teleconferencing, or other communication media. Transmission of data, documents, and communication occurs via telecommunications or network technology. Most telecommuting situations require a personal computer and modem by which the telecommuter can connect to the company’s network or via the Internet. Telecommuting is readily adaptable both for full time and part time employees.
There are a number of potential benefits of telecommuting that are often touted in the popular literature. First, telecommuting is seen as a way to increase one’s scheduling flexibility. Telecommuters are often free to sleep in and work late, start and end early, work 40 hours in four days, or use whatever schedule allows them to meet their personal responsibilities while still getting their work done in a timely manner. For example, by working from home, telecommuters also do not have to take a day off from work in order to sit home and wait for the plumber or other repair or delivery person. Similarly, personal appointments (e.g., physician, dentist, hairdresser) can be scheduled during the day and work completed later in the evening without having to worry about using precious personal or vacation days. Second, telecommuters are able to save both time and money by dispensing with the commute to the office. This allows one to have more free time, spend more time with family, or pursue other interests. Third, parents with younger children can also save money by not having to pay for afterschool programs. Similarly, organizations do not have to be concerned about setting up in-house day care for the children of their workers if the workers work from home. Further, telecommuters can more easily care for sick children or elders without having to take time off from work. This is also advantageous to the employer because the telecommuter can still put in a full day’s work on his or her schedule. Telecommuting may also have a positive impact on the individual’s or family’s budget. Costs for parking, gas, or other transportation; meals; and expensive professional wardrobes can also be significantly reduced. In addition, many telecommuters are also able to take a deduction on their income tax for their home office. Exposing children to their parents’ working can not only help children better understand what their parent does all day as well as help build a better parent/child relationship, but also help them to get better understanding about what it means to be a responsible, professional, working adult.
Telecommuting is gaining popularity as the number of knowledge workers continues to rise. According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute, telecommuting is on the rise, from 34 percent of companies allowing telecommuting in 2005 to 63 percent in 2012 (Hazard, 2013). From 1997 to 2010 the number of Americans who worked from home increased by four million (Mateyka, & Rapino, 2012). Telecommuting is attractive to many employees, particularly with traffic congestion and increasing commute times in many metropolitan areas. Further, telecommuting can decrease the number of distractions faced by the employee in a common office setting. For example, when working from a remote home office, there are fewer distractions such as a coworker dropping by to chat and unnecessary meetings.
Hoteling, Hot Desking, and Work-Share Spaces
Telecommuting is not limited to a single employee working from a home office. “Hoteling” is the use of workstations and meeting rooms in nearby hotels. This arrangement — which has successfully been used by Ernst & Young in Washington, DC — allows employees to focus less on the needs of the office and more on the needs of the customer. “Hot desking” is another form of telecommuting. In this approach, the employer provides a permanent work place such as a desk or workstation that is available to multiple workers if and when it is needed. This approach is successfully used by thousands of IBM employees, each of whom — along with three fellow workers — has access to a work space when it is needed. Another organization that successfully uses hot desking is Cisco Systems, which uses this approach to telecommuting to allow several thousand people to share a variety of work spaces around the world. Another paradigm for telecommuting is through telecommuting centers, miniature corporate office environments frequently located in residential neighborhoods, and which have more technology available than in the typical home office. The centers are located more conveniently to where employees live than the main office. Employees can then make a short physical commute to where the necessary equipment is for their job and then telecommute to work. This approach was successfully implemented by Ontario Telebusiness Work Center near Los Angeles, California—though the center has been shuttered. This company offered electronically equipped suites in suburban locations that helped companies minimize the time wasted in long Los Angeles rush hours so that workers could be more productive. Also becoming popular are shared work spaces, where a group of people from disparate companies rent communal spaces in order to both work remotely and to promote collaboration across industries; these spaces also alleviate the isolation often felt by those who work remotely (Hodges, 2009). Teleworking can be so effective in particular situations that some companies operate as completely virtual organizations where all employees work remotely from each other and their manager. Virtual organizations may also be a group of businesses, consultants, and contractors that join forces to bring complementary skills to bear on a task or project.
In theory, telecommuting sounds like a good idea. It can save the organization money on overhead and travel expenses. It can save the employee the time and money associated with commuting and purchasing an extensive wardrobe. In addition, it can give the employee more time with his or her family due to the time saved not having to commute or travel for work. Further, advocates typically say that telecommuting can improve employee productivity and efficiency. However, not everyone is convinced. Theory X managers, for example, are loath to give up the perceived control that they have when they are physically collocated with their employees and fear the latter will take advantage of the situation and not work as hard if they work from home.
From a management point-of-view, there are a number of other challenges to telecommuting and virtual work environments. Telecommuting requires that both managers and employees learn new approaches to communication for situations where one cannot “drop in” to ask a question or check on how work is progressing. Further, although e-mail is invaluable for keeping lines of communication open, working at a distance can make employees feel isolated and not part of the team. Another major challenge to effective distance working is performance management. In telecommuting situations it is particularly important in these environments to set performance goals and criteria for employees. Managers also need to encourage the telecommuters in their jobs, and not let them become isolated from the social and professional infrastructure of the company.
As attractive as telecommuting may sound in theory, however, it is not appropriate for every job. Sales, marketing, project engineering, consulting, and other service and knowledge positions are most suited for telecommuting. Such employees typically are already working with customers through communications technology, so the shift in venue to the home office from the corporate office makes little difference to the customer. However, it is important that employees who are considering (and being considered for) telecommuting are experienced in the requirements of the job. New employees often require a period of orientation and adjustment during which they learn the corporate culture (the set of basic shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that affect the way employees act within an organization), the requirements of the job, and how to establish relationships with their managers and coworkers.
There are two conflicting pictures of telecommuters from the popular literature: the happy worker who has the best of both worlds and has fully integrated work and family versus the overworked individual who experiences both home and work as sources of stress. Although the ability to be home with the children or do home-related chores is one of the frequently touted advantages of telecommuting, virtually everyone who successfully telecommutes stresses the importance of separating one’s work and non-work lives. If telecommuting is to be successful, many people recommend that one should create a barrier between work and home. This can be physical, such as having a separate room or area of a room that is a devoted “office space” or it can be more psychological in nature. One successful telecommuter recommends getting dressed every day as if one were going into the office. He finds this helps him remember that he is supposed to be working much more than if he wanders into his office space in his robe and slippers. Another woman similarly dresses for work, takes her briefcase in hand, and goes into the spare bedroom that she has turned into an office (Ammons, & Markham, 2004). Rituals such as these help one psychologically prepare for work and better focus on the things that need to be done for the job. Creating this kind of barrier is important not only for the success of the work life, but for the family life as well. When one’s office is at home, it can be tempting to go back to work “just for a little while” to complete a project or task. When this happens too frequently, telecommuting actually hinders rather than facilitating the possibility of the individual to have a personal or family life. To signify that work is over for the day, one can close the door to the office (not to be reopened until the next day), change clothes, or engage in similar rituals to signal to oneself and one’s family that work is over for the day.
The literature offers a number of reasons why telecommuters should separate their home lives and their work activities (Mirchandani, 2000). Many theorists note that the physical proximity of the office to the home can increase the permeability between professional lives, thereby increasing stress rather than relieving it. If psychological barriers (and physical ones where necessary) are not put between the office and home, the telecommuter may find her/himself in a situation of constantly having to choose between the two conflicting demands. Further, a number of theorists note that permeability between the office and home environments can lead to workaholism. Research has found that telecommuters who work from home often spend a greater percentage of their lives on activities related to work than do employees who do not work from home. In fact, research shows that far from helping telecommuters have more time for family or personal lives, it often does just the opposite (Ammons, & Markham, 2004).
Private Home Office
A second recommendation for successful telecommuting is to make one’s home office off limits to others during working hours. If the children come home from school, for example, they should stay out of the office area and not disturb the telecommuter until after work is over except for emergencies just as if the telecommuter were working in a distant office. The physical cues discussed above can also signal to anyone else living in the home that the telecommuter is officially “at work” and should not be disturbed. Similarly, it should be remembered that although telecommuting allows one to throw a load of laundry in the wash (or other household chore), the purpose of telecommuting is to work. For the most part, household chores need to be ignored until one goes “home” for the evening just as if one were physically away from home at another location. Although one of the benefits of telecommuting can be that it offers the worker fewer distractions than a busy office, the telecommuter must be self-disciplined in order for this approach to work to be successful. Home, too, has distractions: the contents of the refrigerator, the afternoon soap operas on television, or that “pressing” home repair that suddenly sounds so much better than working.
Third, just as in an outside office, it is important whenever possible to take a complete break at lunch time. There may, of course, be times when one has to eat lunch at one’s desk. However, the habit of continuing to work with a sandwich in hand will add to one’s stress rather than relieve it. Lunch should not be considered a mere refueling activity, but a time when one can clear one’s head and take a well-earned break so that one can return to work better prepared to continue.
Another recommendation that is often made for successful telecommuting is for the individual to make arrangements for child or elder care if needed. The popular picture of the telecommuting mom or dad happily working away with a baby in one arm while banging out a well-reasoned white paper is merely a popular fiction. If one is being paid for a full day’s work, one needs to ethically do a full day’s work, not divide one’s attention between work and caring for others. From time to time, a child, elder, or other person will get sick and require extra care, but for the most part, working hours need to be devoted to work. Otherwise, both the parent-child and the work relationship suffer.
Telecommuting has many advantages both to the employees who telecommute and to the organizations that employ them. The former can save the time, money, and stress associated with a long commute, be more productive at work as well as have more time for a personal or family life. Similarly, the organizations that use telecommuters can save money on overhead and have employees who are more effective and efficient in their work because of the freedom from distractions. However, there are disadvantages to telecommuting as well. Home can offer just as many if not more distractions to the telecommuter and managers may lose some measure of control over their employees. There are, however, ways in which the disadvantages can be minimized and the advantages leveraged to be advantageous to both parties.
Terms & Concepts
Globalization:Globalization is the process of businesses or technologies spreading across the world. This creates an interconnected, global marketplace operating outside constraints of time zone or national boundary. Although globalization means an expanded marketplace, products are typically adapted to fit the specific needs of each locality or culture to which they are marketed.
Network:A set of computers that are electronically linked together.
Personal Computer:A relatively compact, microprocessor-based computer designed for individual use. Business applications of personal computers include word processing, spreadsheets, graphic design, desktop publishing, database management, and personal productivity.
Postindustrial:The nature of a society whose economy is no longer dependent on the manufacture of goods (i.e., industrial), but is primarily based upon the processing and control of information and the provision of services.
Telecommuting:A situation in which an employee works outside the traditional office or workplace — typically at home or on travel. Transmission of data, documents, and communication occurs via telecommunications or network technology. Also referred to as telework.
Theory X:An approach to management based on the assumptions that most people dislike work and will avoid it as much as they can; need to be continually controlled, coerced, and threatened in order to do their work; and have little or no ambition, try to avoid responsibility, and seek security above other considerations.
Workstation:A desktop computer that is connected to a network. Workstations are also sometimes referred to as clients or nodes.
Cascio, W. F. (2000). Managing a virtual workplace. Academy of Management Executive, 14 , 81–90. Retrieved August 31, 2007 from EBSCO online database Business Source Complete:
Cooke, G. B., Chowhan, J., & Cooper, T. (2014). Dialing it in: A missed opportunity regarding the strategic use of telework? Relations Industrielles / Industrial Relations, 69, 550–574. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from EBSCO Online Database SocINDEX with Full Text.
Davies, A. R., & Frink, B. D. (2014). The origins of the ideal worker: The separation of work and home in the united states from the market revolution to 1950. Work & Occupations, 41, 18–39. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from EBSCO Online Database SocINDEX with Full Text.
Hazard, C. (2013, Mar. 18) Telecommuting offers remote possibilities. Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved from http://www.timesdispatch.com/business/economy/telecommuting-offers-remote-possibilities/article%5F4c0ef994-d53f-5e2c-a83e-c0b90e6adfe1.html
Hodges, J. (2009, Dec. 31). Office (and beanbag) sharing among strangers. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704152804574628253322262872
Lucas, H. C. Jr. (2005). Information technology: Strategic decision making for managers. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Mateyka, P.J., & Rapino, M.A. (2012). Home-based workers in the united states: 2010. P70-132. U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-132.pdf
Mirchandani, K. (2000). “The best of both worlds” and “cutting my own throat”: Contradictory images of home-based work. Qualitative Sociology, 23 , 159-182. Retrieved September 23, 2008 from EBSCO online database Academic Search Complete:
Senn, J. A. (2004). Information technology: Principles, practices, opportunities (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Tugend, A. (2014, March 7). It’s unclearly defined, but telecommuting is fast on the rise. New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/your-money/when-working-in-your-pajamas-is-more-productive.html?5%Fr=0
Ammons, S. K. & Markham, W. T. (2004). Working at home: Experiences of skilled white collar workers. Sociological Spectrum, 24 , 191-283. Retrieved September 23, 2008 from EBSCO online database Academic Search Complete:
Dikkers, J. S. E., Geurts, S. A. E., den Dulk, L., Peper, B., Taris, T. W., & Kompier, M. A. J. (2007). Dimensions of work-home culture and their relations with the use of work-home arrangements and work-home interaction. Work and Stress, 21 , 155–172. Retrieved September 23, 2008 from EBSCO online database Academic Search Complete:
Mirchandani, K. (1999). Legitimizing work: Telework and the gendered reification of the work-nonwork dichotomy. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 36 , 87–107. Retrieved September 23, 2008 from EBSCO online database Academic Search Complete:
Sullivan, C. & Lewis, S. (2001). Home-based telework, gender, and the synchronization of work and family: Perspectives of teleworkers and their co-residents. Gender, Work and Organization, 8 , 123–145. Retrieved September 23, 2008 from EBSCO online database Academic Search Complete:
Troup, C., & Rose, J. (2012). Working from home: Do formal or informal telework arrangements provide better work–family outcomes? Community, Work & Family, 15, 471–486. Retrieved November 6, 2013 from EBSCO online database, SocINDEX with Full Text.
Valoura, L. (2013). Time-space flexibility and work: analyzing the “anywhere and anytime office” in the entertainment, new media, and arts sector. Culture Unbound: Journal Of Current Cultural Research 5339–360. Retrieved November 6, 2013 from EBSCO online database, SocINDEX with Full Text.
Wellman, B., Salaff, J., Dimitrova, D., Garton, L., Gulia, M., & Haythornthwaite, C. (1996). Computer networks as social networks: Collaborative work, telework, and virtual community. Annual Review of Sociology, 22 , 213–238. Retrieved September 23, 2008 from EBSCO online database Academic Search Complete:
Williams, J. C., Blair-Loy, M., & Berdahl, J. L. (2013). Cultural schemas, social class, and the flexibility stigma. Journal of Social Issues, 69, 209–234. Retrieved January 9, 2015, from EBSCO Online Database SocINDEX with Full Text.
Essay by Ruth A. Wienclaw, Ph.D.
Dr. Ruth A. Wienclaw holds a Doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology with a specialization in Organization Development from the University of Memphis. She is the owner of a small business that works with organizations in both the public and private sectors, consulting on matters of strategic planning, training, and human/systems integration.
Copyright of Telecommuting — Research Starters Sociology is the property of Great Neck Publishing and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
The link information above provides a persistent link to the article you’ve requested.
Persistent link to this record: Following the link above will bring you to the start of the article or citation.
Cut and Paste: To place article links in an external web document, simply copy and paste the HTML above, starting with “If you have any problems or questions, contact Technical Support athttp://support.epnet.com/contact/askus.php or call800-758-5995.
This e-mail was generated by a user of EBSCOhost who gained access via the UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND UNIVERSITY COLLEGE account. Neither EBSCO nor UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND UNIVERSITY COLLEGE is responsible for the content of this e-mail.
This assignment is base on the research Literature Review. I have done some findings that I will…