The paper 'The Arguments in Favor of and Against Telecommuting' is a perfect example of a business case study. The terms telework and telecommuting are used interchangeably in the vast amount of literature on the subject and in order to understand the benefits and disadvantages of doing telework or being a telecommute. Telecommuting is best defined as any arrangement that allows an employee to work from another location, usually at home, rather than in his or her employer’ s place of business. (GAO, 2001) What makes this possible, of course, is the use of telecommunications technology, particularly the Internet, which allows people to have the same communications tools they use in the office in almost any other location.
(Mokhtarian and Salomon, 1996) So telework, then, is just another way to describe what a telecommuter does. For people not fluent in trendy business jargon, it would probably simply mean work, but it does have the important distinction of not being done in a place traditionally associated with work. Most telecommuters work in their homes, but not all home workers are telecommuters; people who own and operate their own business from home are not telecommuters.
In the same vein, other workers who are technically telecommuters, such as traveling salesmen, people who are employed full-time by companies in other parts of the world – journalists, for example – and others who move frequently and work in temporary locations, are not usually counted among those doing telework. (Walls and Safirova, 2004) Telecommuting is an alternative to traveling to an office, and that is also an important part of the definition, which is: When the same work that is normal or could be done in an employer’ s place of business is done somewhere else, it becomes telework, and the person who is doing it becomes a telecommuter. With that definition in mind, this paper will explore some of the arguments in favor of and against telecommuting.
The benefits of telecommuting that are most often cited are reduced stress on employees, increased productivity, and more flexibility for families. (Mokhtarian and Salomon, 1996, and Citrix, 2007) In addition, there is credible evidence to suggest that telework reduces vehicle use and emissions.
(Walls and Safirova, 2004) On the other hand, telecommuting also raises some problematic issues. Labour and employment laws and tax regulations often do not adequately address telework circumstances, and telecommuting can also raise issues of employee supervision and protection of sensitive data. (GAO, 2001) There are also practical concerns about technology since telework cannot be done without secure and reliable broadband Internet access. (Song, Orazem, and Singh, 2006) Personal issues such as motivations for telecommuting and a productive work environment must also be considered. (Gilbert, 2008) And finally, there are legitimate reasons to question how much telecommuting actually helps the environment by keeping workers at home and out of their cars. The balance between employees’ needs to care for their families with employers’ needs to have productive workers is regularly cited as one of the major benefits of telework.
Telecommuting is considered the most “ family-friendly” arrangement for employees, better than alternatives such as flexible work hours, maternity or other family leave, or employer-sponsored child-care arrangements. (Mayo, et al. , 2008) From the employee’ s perspective, telecommuting can improve morale and reduce stress. From the employer’ s perspective, allowing employees to telework can help attract and retain good employees, improve productivity, and reduce costs due to lost work time for family or other personal matters.
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Mayo, Margarita, Pastor, Juan Carlos, Gómez-Mejía, Luis, and Cruz, Cristina. (2008) Contextual Factors and Contingent Reward Leadership: Employer Adoption of Telecommuting. IE Business School Working Paper WP08-22, 31 March 2008. Available from the IDEAS database:
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Song, Moohoun, Orazem Peter F., Singh, Rajesh. (2006) Broadband Access, Telecommuting, and the Urban-Rural Digital Divide. Iowa State University Department of Economics Staff General Research Paper 12495, 2 February 2006. Available from IDEAS database:
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Walls, Margaret, and Safirova, Elena. (2004) A Review of the Literature on Telecommuting and Its Implications for Vehicle Travel and Emissions. Resources for the Future, Discussion Paper 04-44, December 2004. Available from the IDEAS database:
Walls, Margaret, Safirova, Elena, and Jiang, Yi. (2006) What Drives Telecommuting? The Relative Impact of Worker Demographics, Employer Characteristics, and Job Types. Resources for the Future, Discussion Paper 06-41, October 2006. Available from the IDEAS database:
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