Teleworking: International Perspectives: From Telecommuting to the Virtual Organisation

Teleworking: International Perspectives: From Telecommuting to the Virtual Organisation

Teleworking: International Perspectives: From Telecommuting to the Virtual Organisation

Teleworking: International Perspectives: From Telecommuting to the Virtual Organisation

Synopsis

Teleworking: International Perspectives offers an up-to-date, groundbreaking and comprehensive assessment of the rapidly changing contexts of the globalization of markets and the proliferation of new technologies. As well as an original analysis of the theoretical context of the postindustrial and postmodern world. the book also contains detailed studies examining teleworking in a number of different countries.

Excerpt

The idea of ‘telework’ has been with us for more than 20 years. Ever since its introduction it received great interest from many different sides. Managers and employees were the first to experiment with electronic distance work, but soon city planners, transportation experts, telecommunication firms, computer vendors, employment agencies and many others also showed a keen interest. Telework was heralded as the solution to many different problems. It was expected that rearranging work with respect to space and time, using new information and communication technology, would resolve traffic congestion, save energy, eliminate skill shortages, offer employment opportunities for the handicapped, reduce labour and overhead costs, increase work flexibility and reconcile the conflicting demands of work and family.

While convenient as a notion into which everyone could project his or her desires, telework also appeared to suffer from evasiveness and lack of substance when it came to research and practical work. Many attempts were made to define telework in a satisfactory way, but with little success. It appeared impossible to come up with an unequivocal definition that covered the essence of what telework was supposed to be and that differentiated it from other forms of work. As a consequence it has not been possible to make reliable assessments of the scale of use of telework, nor of its development and growth perspective. It so happened that estimates of the scale of use differed by a factor of 10 or more, and that some researchers called telework a marginal phenomenon, while others depicted it as a genuine revolution.

In recent years scholars have begun to realise that telework discussions often revealed a problematic focus, that the early fascination with technology and the way people could use it had diverted attention from me organisation as the place in which work is performed and had blurred the organisation’s role in the economy. More and more scholars became aware that it was not only the on-line worker who was of interest, but also the change in organisational functions and forms enabled by new technology. At present one can witness a transition to another vocabulary. Some authors prefer to speak about dispersed organisations, distributed organisations, network organisations, virtual organisations, and so on, rather than about telework. The focus is shifting towards the alternative ways in

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