Telecommuting is defined as an arrangement between employees and employers where employees do not have to commute to a central work place but instead work at from a remote location like at home; either regularly or periodically. This form of working allows employees to have a lot of flexibility on working time and location (Edmondson, 11). Telecommuting started in the 1970s when satellite offices were linked to mainframes by use of dumb terminals. Telecommuting is currently widely accepted and practiced all over the world especially with current technology that makes the world a global village.
Rapid information technology advances have enabled telecommuting to grown fast. Canada as an example has very high computer ownership numbers among its citizens. This combined with high usage of internet makes the environment very conducive for telecommuting. This paper attempts to analyze the applicability of telecommuting and its success in time. Growth in Telecommuting Africa has experienced a revolution in information technology within the last few years, and today many more Africans have knowledge of how to use computers. Competition within the communications industry has driven the cost of communication down making it more affordable to millions of Africans.
Internet access at home is nowadays a reality even in the rural areas increasing the number of people in Africa who can telecommute. The shortage of jobs in Africa has made Africans look for jobs which may be away from their countries of origin or even far away from the African continent. Wireless internet access, high internet speeds, employers embracing work life balance concepts and the ever rising commuting and fuel costs were cited as responsible for this trend.
A telephone survey carried out in the period November-December 2008 by Dieringer Research Group inc. (2009) indicated a high and increasing number of Americans telecommuting in 2008 as compared to 2006. In 2006, the number of Americans telecommuting stood at eight percent with the figure reaching eight per cent in 2008. Another of the survey’s finding was that self employed and those employees working on contracts work remotely or at home at least once monthly rose by about 400 persons in the period 2006-2008 according to the Dieringer Research Group inc.
(2009). The sum of contact telecommuters and employee telecommuters rose to about 34 million in 2008 from about 29 million in 2006 showing a 17% increase in two years. Statistics of the period 2003-2008 shows that the numbers of American telecommuters have risen an impressive 43% in the five year period. Applicability and Advantages of Telecommuting Telecommuting has been increasing in use across the US in the last several years (Telework, 2009). People commute in planes, cars, trains and buses while on their way to other activities or to work on regular basis.
He mentions a number of ways that make telecommuting advantageous compared to the convectional working ways. Efficiency in energy use has been regarded as very important especially with expansion in industry all over the globe that is straining the energy reserves available. Compared with the convectional ways, telecommuting saves a lot of energy in terms of vehicle-related, highways-related, and office-related resources and materials Resnick (78-81). If telecommuting is encouraged, there will be less utilization of some gadgets and hence less production of these gadgets. This would ultimately mean saving energy that would have otherwise been used for their production, repair, maintenance and day to day running.
Also, a lot of energy is consumed in the building and maintenance of highways used in the transportation of different types of gadgets. Energy consumption will be reduced with lower production of these gadgets. A person consumes more energy while at work than when working from home. Office buildings have lighting, heating and cooling needs. Building the office requires materials which use energy in transportation and their production. On the other hand, working from home requires modest energy demands for lighting, heating and cooling needs, making it an effective way to utilize existing space and facilities.
Telecommuting helps to preserve the environment by cutting down on land use requirement for highway developments and expansion (Hamer, 11). Vehicle emissions are also cut down by the people who do not shave to commute to work frequently. If the people telecommuting were to travel to work highways and parking lots would have to be expanded to accommodate the extra traffic. If more people were to be encouraged to telecommute, less parking lots, highways and airports would be needed in future and the quality of breathing air would improve due to fewer emissions from vehicles. Also, if telecommuting were to be encouraged more, even fewer people would be on the roads rushing to their work places leading to safer roads.
In addition, it helps in reducing stress related to making compromises between work and family, and therefore helps in improving general health. Yet again, it gives workers the opportunity to enjoy working near their family members (at home) and therefore the workers would not have to make compromises between work and family (Jana, 76).
It also reduces the chances of contracting communicable diseases that can be gotten by mixing with people at work places or in vehicles while on the way to work. People commuting to work more often than not have to turn to restaurants for their lunch meals. Telecommuting works in giving employees freedom to choose where to live so they do not have to quit their jobs to move to environments they feel is best for their families to live in (Keizer, 14-23).
Telecommuting improves productivity considering the time saved when having to commute. This time saved could be used for production. For handicapped persons or people with health problems, telecommuting offers not only productive opportunities but also some comfort. Limitations of Telecommuting Despite telecommuting working well for some employees, it experiences some few setbacks. Telecommuting workers experience some sort of isolation from workmates which interferes with their social life and the isolation may make an employee to loose touch with happenings at the central work place (Telework, 2009).
This is a slight setback to the company as telecommuting employees will for long remain out of touch with their peers who do not telecommute. This is especially so if the company needs close interaction between employees. One may also experience longer working hours and bigger domestic utility bills as the employee may need to invest in a more reliable internet service provider and, sometimes, a source of backup power should the main source prove reliable. Some distractions may also happen at home especially if the worker has children who may run around the house while making noise.
Additionally, there are security concerns with regard to telecommuting. Data that is being handled by a telecommuting employee could be hacked. In cases of very sensitive data, an employer may not feel comfortable with certain data being handled away from the office area where he/she can closely supervise. Conclusion Since distance is involved, telecommuting is enabled by tools like video conferencing, conference calling, groupware, VOIP, and groupware. Telecommuting is efficient in the sense that workers can communicate and transact over long distances leading to big savings on cost and time.
Generally, the advantages of telecommuting far outweigh its advantages to both the employee and the employer. The savings in terms of cost and the freedom experienced by the employee far outweigh the setbacks making telecommuting a viable alternative to convectional (commuting) work. With a good level of trust on the employer’s side, telecommuting works very well for most careers. Works Cited Edmondson B. "Telecommuting in Telluride, " American Demographics Vol13, n11 (Nov, 1991): 2. Hamer M., "Home work clears air, " New Scientist Vol.
132, No. 1789:11. 1991 Janal, D., "You can go home again, " Compute! Vol. 13, No. 10:76. 1991 Keizer G. "Home office in six days: integrating technology into your workspace, " Compute! Vol. 13, No. 3 14 -23. 1991 Resnick R, "Remote possibilities, " Compute! Vol. 13, No. 10 78 -81. 1991. Telework (2009) Status of Telework in the Federal Government. Retrieved http: //www. telework. gov/Reports_and_Studies/Annual_Reports/2009teleworkreport. pdf [24th November, 2009] The Dieringer Research Group Inc (2009). A Survey Brief by WorldatWork. Retrieved http: //www. workingfromanywhere. org/news/Trendlines_2009.pdf [24th November, 2009]