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Summary:

This month’s Economist, in an article called Home warriors, explores some fascinating issues around the implications of telecommuting and its implications on energy, policy and employment…not simply the availability of connectivity and email. The writer argues that though technology and infrastructure has long been available, only […]

This month’s Economist, in an article called Home warriors, explores some fascinating issues around the implications of telecommuting and its implications on energy, policy and employment…not simply the availability of connectivity and email.

The writer argues that though technology and infrastructure has long been available, only now are the economic and commercial drivers unfolding that’s making teleworking an attractive default position for many employers, not just employees.

Here’s a few key items from the piece…

  • the writer would spent over an hour each day during the 70s commuting to a place of employment; he estimates that telecommuting from the mid-80s onwards has reduced his carbon footprint by over 60 tonnes.
  • Gartner Dataquest estimates that 25% of US employees worked from home, at least once a week in 2007. European levels seems to be comparatively higher.
  • Another study estimates that 33m Americans are employed in roles sutable for telecommuting; removing these commuters from daily travels could drive down oil imports by 25% and reduce carbon emissions dramatically….with the added benefit of increased productivity and perhaps even vacation time.
  • Employers are beginning to understand that increased agility, reduced costs and enhanced business continuity can flow from encouraging telecommuting, actually strengthening a business’ competitiveness and resilience whilst removing large capital and operational costs from the bottom line.
  • Studies of remote workers at American Express and BT show that they can be 30-40% more productive.
  • A separate study concludes that remote workers can suffer from career stagnation and isolation, but ironically suggests that richer, ambient and persistent communication channels are the solution.

There seems to be a perfect storm brewing – of technological innovation, improved competitiveness, soaring fuel costs and a desire to tackle climate change – that might push telecommuting and remote working into the default pattern of work for most employers.

As the commercial and technological environment matures, perhaps the focus for telcommuting now needs to explore the neccessary cultural, social and civic infrastructure neccessary to take advantage of this perfect storm…

  1. [...] great post today on Telecommuting Trends, which summarizes some great points from a recent article at Economist.com called Home [...]

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  2. The change has happened, it just takes much of society a long time to realise and/or shake the inertia of the past.

    I think the big issue is how do we infuse whatever goodness there is in “face to face working” back into the web worker’s life.

    Not too much, not too little, is not always an easy question to answer. Technology might help you get “pseudo face to face” to some degree but do want only that?

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  3. Nice summary. Weak title. Too bad.

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  4. As someone who has made a living for the past 6 years as an independent contractor, I appreciate more than most the technological advancements that have enabled this lifestyle. The great news is that the tech that enables productive telecommuting just keeps getting better and better. There is a ton of buzz today about videoconferencing as the “big answer” to telecommuting, but good solutions are pricey. With Google Docs, GoToMeeting and the Vello conferencing service, you have everything you need for day to day business. Full disclosure, Vello is one of my clients, but it’s a service that deserves to be factored into the telecommuting calculus. Vello dials OUT to participants, instead of making everyone dial IN. No more fumbling with passcodes, no more long PIN codes, no more forgetting meetings, and con calls begin on time. Check it out – http://www.vellocall.com. Happy Telecommuting!

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  5. Help, where do you find companies that offer telecommuting positions. It is next to impossible to sift through all of the garbage on the web for legitimate opportunities. Any guidance you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

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  6. [...] johnAdd commentswork As a follow-up to my earlier post on working from home, Web Worker Daily has this post on telecommuting trends (which they apparently gathered from the Economist).  Anyway, it looks like there’s a good [...]

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  7. [...] are signs that the larger working world is recognizing this. Telework is gaining acceptance in the private and public sector at incredible rates. Utah is shifting to a ten-hour, four-day [...]

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  8. [...] hoping that things have changed since then and, with teleworking becoming more and more prevalent internationally, there’s a good possibility that it [...]

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  9. [...] work practices.  They’re the ones who will view the downturn as an opportunity to explore the benefits of telecommuting and use it as a way to maintain their competitive edge. 2) [...]

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  10. In my opinion telecommuting is possible for professionals but it has to involve every employer AND Yes it can involve every Desk-worker !!!!
    .
    This means Team-Building, Training on the job, Trust and unofficial gossip to match ideas….all during Telecommuting
    .
    We can give this trough Full-time HQ Video and Audio for every employer and manager.
    Constantly seeing each other will really build a team.
    .
    Check it out at hr.telebeing in the Netherlands (nl)
    or join the linkedin group: “teleworking”
    Ruud Padt

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  11. [...] suited to large, mainstream, multinational organization – something we discussed a while back in Telecommuting Trends and our coverage of the emergence of Smart Work [...]

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  12. [...] we have also explored more philosophical issues, such as the design of cities and the impact of telecommuting on [...]

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  13. [...] we have also explored more philosophical issues, such as the design of cities and the impact of telecommuting on [...]

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  14. [...] we have also explored more philosophical issues, such as the design of cities and the impact of telecommuting on [...]

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  15. [...] Telecommuting Trends (review of the Economist’s Home Warriors article) [...]

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