Trends in Teleworking


Kurt Cagle, the managing editor of, recently explored Telework as the New Face of the Agile Workforce in a piece for O’Reilly Media. The article examines the intersection of rising fuel prices, the credit crunch, rising real estate prices and congested transport networks, contrasting them with the steady rise in teleworking and telecommuting.

Here’s a few interesting notes from of Cagle’s analysis…

  • Roadbumps On the Virtual Commute – social media, presence-based communications and web applications are helping to minimize the some of the issues around how people work together from different locations and time zones. Cagle goes on to point out the the technical limitations are now largely moot, with social limitations being of concern to most teleworkers.
  • Telework and Agile Development -the notion of agile development, pairing experienced and inexperienced programmers through a mentoring relationship is beginning to spread to other non-software disciplines such as writers and marketeers.
  • Risk Mitigation Through Telework – dispersing the physical and human assets of organizations can help build resilience and continuity into a business, mitigating the risk of potentially disastrous scenarios. Conversely, casting a wider net for talent and personnel opens new opportunities and ensure the best people can be engaged.
  • The Green Telecommute – There’s a growing anxiety that teleworking simply shifts the carbon debt from organizations to individuals homes; however studies from Sun illustrate that 97% of an employee’s carbon footprint was simply due to commuting. Sadly, here in the UK telecommuting isn’t even part of the political debate on greening British cities.
  • Telework’s Future – a rethink is required in how organizations manage people. Teleworking demographics polarize around those close to retirement and those early in their careers, each demanding a degree of flexibility in their lives. With estimates that around a third of the US workforce will demand to telework within the next four years, it’s clear organizations aren’t culturally attuned to manage a distributed workforce. I’d go further and state that government is tone deaf to the possibilities of incentivizing teleworking as a means to reduce the burden on congested transport networks.

Read Kurt Cagle’s full report here…


Reasons for Telecommuting

The high hopes for distance working are often overstated. It works best for self-starters and entrepreneurs that have some previous business experience.

For most people online work opportunities amount to either slave labor or MLM schemes. This includes the mommy bloggers.

Working online is more than having the right gadgets, but it does not hurt to keep dreaming and keep searching.


It might be easier to get buy-in for telecommuting options if management had a higher degree of confidence in the infrastructure and facilities utilized by telecommuters.

Remote Office Centers might go a long way towards providing that confidence. ROCs lease individual offices, internet and phone systems to workers from different companies in shared centers located around the city and suburbs.

There are several advantages to ROCs:
1. Improved infrastructure (reliable internet and phone systems)
2. Improved structure. It is easier to start and stop the work day when you have a place to go each day to work.
3. Social contact with other workers.
4. Onsite technical support

ROCs are fairly new, but can be found in many cities by searching the internet for “Remote Office Centers” or by going to a free web site that lists ROCs:


The risk mitigation of a distributed workforce is underplayed by many organisations.

At first this sounds like hype against terrorist attacks and natural disasters, but how much lost time could be made up by reducing employee exposure to epidemics of the common cold.


It’s interesting that the recent gas shortage has in fact fueled the move towards telecommuting (telework).

In fact, the parts of the federal government (judiciary branch) is pushing employees to learn how to telework and providing training in order to provide them the knowledge to set up the technology to support teleworking. I know because my wife is one of those trainers.


Our execs just decided to paint the walls a cheerful color. They said, “No one shows up to work because it is so gloomy”. blink blink… No, no one shows up because they are saving gas and getting more done by TELECOMMUTING!

Barbara Saunders

David – funny and pathetic at the same time, and so true!

I recently sat through a bizarre conversation about “employee loyalty” in which I was the only person to argue that it is reasonable for people to seek another job in response to the news of wage freezes.


You would think this is a no-brainer, but you’d be wrong! Its a constant battle in some organizations to justify telecommuting. The problem is that those making the decision usually are the ones that get teary eyed thinking about the good old days of gathering around the fax machine and celebrating the 57th birthday of Jane from the secretary pool.

Comments are closed.