The Rise of Information and Communication Technologies

Before computers became commonplace, companies had an idea of remote work that differs from what we now call telecommuting. Companies would open satellite offices to which employees could commute instead of traveling all the way to the central office.

The availability of satellite offices improved the lives of workers, by reducing the amount of time they spent between work and home. Employees could often walk, bike, or ride the bus to work instead of spending hours on the freeway in a car. Of course, not every company could afford to establish a satellite office, but those who could had a significant advantage in recruiting the best workers.

Widespread acceptance of personal computers began the remote work revolution that now allows people to work for their employers from their home. The job of the remote worker continues to evolve with technology, enabling employees to integrate with their managers and coworkers as though they were physically present in the company office. Thanks to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, people can work from almost anywhere at any time.

Video conferencing and other collaboration tools create a virtual bridge between employers and their workers, mimicking the interactive nature of the office environment. Meanwhile, enhanced information security tools provide for the free flow of information among all team members. Finally, high-speed Internet connections create the backbone that supports management and communications functions that were unheard of just ten years ago.

The Negative Effects of Commuting to a Regular Job

The environmental repercussions of commuting, mainly the pollution emitted by millions of vehicles, have provided a sense of urgency for developing remote working as a modern employment model. Taking just 50 million workers off the road for fewer than three days of the year would remove about 51 million tons of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

Employees have an interest in eliminating the traditional commute to the office. The two to three hours spent on the road demoralizes workers, making them less productive. Other factors such as stress, exposure to the toxic fumes of traffic, the neck and back pain caused by prolonged sitting in a vehicle, and weight gain make commuting unhealthy and dangerous.

Purpose of This Guide

Cost savings, job satisfaction, and environmental benefits all make telecommuting attractive to companies and their workers, but no one should embrace the new way of working without carefully considering the costs and dangers involved in making the transition.

Like any other employment arrangement, telecommuting has advantages and disadvantages that employers and employees must consider before jumping on the bandwagon. Some workers do not make suitable candidates for remote work, and some companies might not function well with a home-based workforce.

A telecommuting program requires a commitment from everyone involved. Employers must provide a framework of policies and procedures, training, and IT infrastructure while employees must consider how well they can work without personal supervision in a home environment filled with distractions.

This guide will guide the decision-making process, helping everyone involved decide if they want to embrace working from home.