Change in Working Styles
Telecommuting refers to working from home using ICT such as phone, fax and computer, to electronically connect themselves to their offices during normal organizational working hours. The location of work is usually the home but there are also mobile offices where workers travel to a satellite office which are located nearer to the homes. Telecommuting therefore replaces commuting by rail, car or other transport. \[ICT and Our Society\]
The term telecommuting was first used by the Center for Futures Research at the University of Southern California, to describe a geographically dispersed office where workers can work at home on a computer, and transmit data and documents to a central office via a telephone line. \[ICT and Our Society\]
Telecommuting was initially intended to extend the working day and also to maintain a better work-life balance.
Trend of Telecommuting:
Due to rapidly evolving ICT, companies in the more information-saavy countries, such as the United States, are considering telecommuting as a means to achieve greater corporate benefits, such as:
- Reducing amount of office space and thus gaining tax incentives
- Increased productivity
- Better retention of workers due to greater flexibility in working hours
- Improved employee moral and hence reduced sick time leading to better productivity
Telecommuting has been greatly motivated and enabled as a result of technologies as follows:
- Personal computer - makes it possible for individuals to work on documents from home.
- Mobile phone - added mobility for workers as it is now possible for them to contact anyone, anywhere.
- Internet - generated the deepest impact, as it allows two-way communication between employers and workers through communication tools such as electronic-mail and instant messaging softwares eg. Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo!Messenger, QQ.
Broadband - furthered the feasibility of telecommuting by enabling virtual group collaboration to be possible anyplace, anywhere. \[ICT and Our Society\]
Telecommuting and the Environment
One point which environmentalists have cited in advocation towards telecommuting is the benefits it could have in easing traffic congestion and hence reduce air pollution. Although this point has not been greatly evidenced, a June 2008 report by The Climate Group on behalf of the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI) has studied the positive externalities that telecommuting could have in fighting Climate Change.
Telecommuting could generate up to 260 MtCO2e savings each year. In the United States, given that 30 million people could work from home, carbon gas emissions could be reduced by 75-100 MtCO2e in 2030, the effect of which is comparable to likely reductions gotten from measures such as fuel efficient vehicles.
The June 2008 report also presented the analysis that suppose a significant number of employees telecommute for more than three days a week, it could bring about energy savings of 20-50%, even with greater use of energy at home.
In a study conducted by the UK Department of Transport, it has been found that telecommuting reduces car travelling by UK telecommuters by 48-77%, representing reductions in fuel required for transport.
Becta, 2007: Becta. (2007). What is a learning platform. Retrieved 13th, November, 2008 from http://schools.becta.org.uk/index.php?section=re&rid=12887
SMART: SMART Board interactive whiteboards. Retrieved November 13th, 2008 from http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/SMART+Boards/
Liebrecht, 2007: Deia Liebrecht. (2007) West Area Gets Smart With Technology. Retrieved November 13th, 2008 from http://www.theledger.com/article/20071127/NEWS14/711270453/1229/CAMPUS40
Lim Kin Chew, 2004: Learning Standards Technical Committee, Singapore. Retreieved November 14th from http://www.elc.or.jp/aen/content/conference/2004/file/S2_Singapore.pdf
Derek Stockley, 2003: E-learning Definition and Explanation(Elearning, Online Training, Online Learning). Retrieved November 14th, 2008 from http://derekstockley.com.au/elearning-definition.html
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Impact on Environment:
- Reduces paper wastage
- Reduces resources to make boards