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Research paper topic: Telecommuting: The Evolution Of A New Work Environment - 1433 words
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.. r people to work from home they have to be able to get through this protection layer and they themselves are not protected by any type of firewall. It is believed that telecommuters pose the biggest threat to security. Home workers like to have a sense of control over their machines that is not found in the workplace. Many people not only use their home computers for work but also for personal use and because of this want as little restrictions placed on their systems.
The telecommuter also is able to disable many of the security features put in place because of the access they need to be given. The use of VPN's also work as a way to bring in email that may contain viruses to the main corporations network without detection. Antivirus software is becoming more routine, even on the personal computer but home users tend to be reluctant to update as often as is necessary. Technology is getter better and should be able to solve many of these problems but changing the behavior of people while they work at home will remain the number one challenge (eWeek, Nov 20, 2000 p18, Security hole: Home office Telecommuting brings thorny problems to securitys front lines. (Industry Trend or Event) Scott Berinato).
Beside security there are other problems that are even harder to find good solutions for. The face-to-face daily contact that people have in the office is vitally important. This is a time where co-workers are able to share ideas and work together to solve company problems. Interpersonal skills are skills that most companies look for in there employees and if they allow them to work alone away from the office all the time these individuals will find it hard to make promotions and advance in their own careers. Some individuals might not aspire to move up the corporate ladder but for those who do this as seen as a hindrance in their development (Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, Oct 2000 v29 i13 p112, The Pros and Cons Of a Virtual Office. Susan Thea Posnock). Another problem not commonly looked at when considering telecommuting is whether the telecommuter will be able to separate their family life from their work. It is found that by working at home some individuals incur a higher degree of stress do to the fact they cannot allocate their time properly.
These same individuals are also known to have a hard time going on vacation and leaving the job at home. This can cause problems with the individuals family life as well as take away from the job performance making telecommuting a way of life that should not be used by these individuals. Telecommuting is not for everyone. A plan some employers use is to make employees split their time between home and the office. This tends to keep the employee focused on their work while also giving the time for some flexibility.
There is also another unique problem with telecommuting that is about as far removed from the actual occurrence of it as possible while still being the root cause, employees who are not able to telecommute resent those who are able. This can cause friction and animosity in the workplace, which hinders the productiveness of the company (Employee Benefit News, Jan 1, 2001 pITEM01008015, Telecommuting blurs work, personal life. (Brief Article) Karen Lee). The benefits are still seen as outweighing the drawbacks. The number one reason people choose to work at home is to have a better balance of work and family life, at least for those who can separate the two.
Less than 15% of telecommuters work during the standard workday hours, 55% of their time is spent on the computer or phone and surprisingly 7% is still spent on direct face-to-face contact (Home Office Computing, Jan 2001 v19 i1 p11, Nothing Is Unworkable. (Industry Trend or Event) Eric Grevstad). Ikea held a Work at Home Day at their store and polled people to find out why they telecommute. The answers were somewhat surprising but not too hard to believe. Of the people who filled out the questionnaire 43% said they worked at home because they felt that they were fatter than others in the office, 68% did not like using the public restrooms at work and 54% wanted the tax deduction for their home office.
Other more important benefits are a 30% savings in office space and overhead costs for the company, managers can supervise greater amounts of individuals, and studies have shown that at-home workers earn 28% more than the average office worker (OfficeSolutions, Oct 2000 v17 i10 p40, Successful Telecommuting. (Industry Trend or Event) Leslie Mizell). Productivity among telecommuters is 22 to 45% higher due to fewer interruptions, less sick time, people dont have to miss work because their children are sick or weather related problems. Nortel a company that is considered a leader in the telecommuting wave claims that telecommuters have a 11% higher level of job satisfaction, 16% better retention rate and are more likely to recommend the company to others to work there as compared to their counterparts that work in the office (eWeek, Oct 23, 2000 p81, Telecommuting revolution. (Industry trend or Event) Lisa Kosan). Group telecommuting is also becoming more popular. This brings together benefits for both the company and the employees. The company is able to set up satellite offices in areas that are closer to the employees residences while still providing them with a sense of being part of the team by having them work with others on a daily basis.
Often the office space is found at a much cheaper rate than it would be if they were commuting to the main office and it also opens opportunities to go where the talent is located. Group telecommuting tends to work best when the groups are small and the group is linked together under a common function. The American Dairy Association was able to move a group out of a Manhattan office and save $50,000 a year in office lease expense. Group telecommuting stills suffers some of the same drawbacks that individual telecommuting does but not usually as severe (Crains new York Business, Oct 30, 2000 v16 p31, Out of Sight; When teams of employees telecommute, its great for the bottom line but tough on communication. (Brief Article) Joanne Cleaver). So with all the benefits and all the disadvantages how can companies make telecommuting work.
Glenn Lovelace who use to work for Nortel Co and is now CEO of his own private consulting firm thinks he has found the best method. He believes that most companies fail because they do not understand the amount of money and time that needs to be invested to get the desired results. He recommends that when a company is looking towards telecommuting they need to first begin with a small pilot program. This pilot program needs the funding to meet their every need and at least one years worth of financial investment is needed. With that in place they can evaluate the progress of the program at set intervals and decide what is working and what isnt. After the year is up and they find that they understand what is needed then the company is ready to move the idea into other departments.
Another key Lovelace recommends to making this work is to have redundancy. In computer lingo that means to have backups to your backups. Telecommuters must have a way to connect if there main connection goes down. What is commonly used to facilitate this is to have mirrored sites. A mirrored site is when all the information is duplicated and placed on a system separate from the main system.
This will allow people to always be able to connect and complete the work they need to do (Home Office Computing, Jan 2001 v19 i1 p90, The Telenetwork Puzzle. (Industry Trend or Event) Lisa Roberts). Telecommuting has come along way in a relatively short period of time. Companies are finding that there are major cost advantages to using telecommuting for many of their functions. The telecommuters are also benefiting by this in creating their own hours and adjusting their family life with their work life at levels never before seen. The disadvantages are becoming less and less the more technology improves and hopefully in the near future advancements in teleconferencing will improve the personal contact that is missing. While teleconferencing will never replace face-to-face contact nor will it ever replace the brainstorming that occurs at the water fountain but it will save money for the business and it will make some employees more productive. Telecommuting is here for the long run, now its just a matter of how to make it perfect.
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