Magazine article Management Review

The Advantages of Telecommuting

Magazine article Management Review

The Advantages of Telecommuting

Article excerpt

The Advantages Of Telecommuting

The technological advancements of the past decade in fiber optic telecommunications, the fax machine and personal computers have enabled business to transcend geopolitical borders and spurred the creation of a global economy. Hiring practices depend less on where employees live and more on what they can do. These technological achievements offer business the opportunity to change the way it operates and make structural adjustments in the workplace.

Telecommuting, or working from home with the aid of telecommunication and computer-based technology, can achieve important management objectives on a broad scale. It allows employees to alter their lifestyles and employers to better manage administrative overhead. Real estate values and infrastructure costs also are affected by telecommuting. Ultimately, these factors may help sustain productivity in the service sector, which has fluctuated in recent times. Following is an overview of each of these important areas.

* Lifestyle. Satisfying and retaining employees will be the major concerns facing employers in the 1990s. An employee's lifestyle - the factors that comprise everyday existence, including work environment, work schedule and job stress - plays a critical role in determining his or her level of satisfaction.

Telecommuting eliminates the daily commute to and from a fixed worksite - and the cost, parking and traffic hassles that accompany it. Working at home or at a remote location means employees can work in a more comfortable and relaxed setting and enjoy more casual dress. The increased control over their environment and comfort level may enhance employees' productivity. Also, working at home lets employees tailor their work schedule to meet personal goals and objectives. For instance, telecommuting professionals may adjust their schedule to allow time for further academic training, public service projects or embarking on a health maintenance program.

When an employee has greater control of the factors that produce job stress, that stress can be reduced. By granting employees the opportunity to achieve greater self-actualization through personal and community development, telecommuting can contribute to an overall improvement in their lifestyle without a significant financial burden to the employer. And, by eliminating certain time restraints, telecommuting may indirectly contribute to more volunteer work and public service.

* Real estate. Increased use of telecommuting could significantly affect real estate values and the growth and development of cities. In Megatrends 2000 (Morrow, 1990), the authors indicate that today's technology allows people to live almost anywhere and transact business. Increasingly, individuals are opting for small cities, towns and rural areas. In fact, Megatrends 2000 reports that between one-third and one-half of the American and Canadian middle-class population will live outside metropolitan and suburban areas by 2010. The productivity gains of employees in the service sector also has led to a reduction in job growth. As a result, fewer workers need to be hired and less work space is required.

Since office space contributes greatly to overhead, most companies are looking to use their space more efficiently. These factors indicate that there will be a declining need for increased commercial office space in urban centers. By reducing demand for office space, telecommuting indirectly would allow governments to defer expensive capital improvements such as highway construction and transit systems. …

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