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Many inventions and developments in technology have been accomplished in the past century. The developments have spanned almost all aspects of life, among them, the communication sector. There have been developments in the means of communication.
The communication sector has evolved from the original use of messengers to the current state of technology whereby the internet plays a major role in communication. This paper will discuss telecommuting, one of the applications of the developments in the communication sector. The paper will define the term telecommuting and give the effects, both positive and negative, that have been experienced as a result of telecommuting.
Telecommuting refers to the act of conducting official duties away from the official workplace. The official workplace is the location which is designed by an employer to be used for undertaking official duties.
Regardless of the place under consideration as the employers’ workplace there are times when employees have the option or even might be forced to work away from the official work places. Such off office working stations can be the employees’ homes or any other place that is not necessarily the officially designed working place (Business 1). Kizza has identified some social impacts associated with telecommuting. The social impacts have been categorized into negative and positive (Kizza 145). The social impacts are discussed below.
Positive Effects/Advantages of Telecommuting
Telecommuting makes life quite flexible and enables the employees to have more time around their homesteads. This is particularly clear if the person is working from his or her home or from a location that is closer to home than the official working office. Telecommuting therefore creates more time for the employees to stay close to their families.
Staying close to the family is significant especially when the family members might be in need of some special attention. A good illustration is the case where a person is to work and at the same time has children or elderly people to look after. The employee would, in the absence of telecommuting, be forced to forsake one of the responsibilities.
Telecommunicating however enables the employee to be available at home hence availing the opportunity to balance the two responsibilities appropriately. Telecommunicating can also be of great help to employees at a particular age or status like pregnancy. If the terms of employment are flexible enough to allow for telecommuting, then the employee working at home can retain his or her work even if some circumstances have limited his/her ability to travel to the workplace.
An expectant mother who works at home instead of commuting to her workplace is less exposed to accidents that can harm her pregnancy. Working from home can also enable employees who have been incapacitated due to tragedies like accidents, but can still render their services to the employer to retain their jobs. The individual could only be incapacitated in a way that limits his or her movements but through telecommuting he/she can easily render his/her services to the employer.
The employee will therefore be able to maintain his or her job if allowed to work from home. A person who is working at home has the advantage of saving on time which is taken up when travelling to the office, money spent on gas among other risks involved. This saves time and money which can be channeled elsewhere like recreation among others (Kizza 145).
Khosrowpour highlighted other factors which he believed are advantages of telecommuting: “autonomy, flexibility and freedom from interruptions” (Khosrowpour 1). Autonomy refers to the aspects of independence in this context in relation to time of work and other regulations in the work places like codes of conduct.
In telecommuting the employee is not under the control of some the codes set up by the employer, for instance the dressing codes, thus he is free to dress in manner that will be most comfortable to him/her. The flexibility in telecommuting is another advantage as it enables the employee to budget his/her time to fit in more activities for instance social programs.
A good example is where a person can schedule time to attend social activities during the day and work at night, especially if the activity was an emergency. The freedom from interruptions is on the other hand a psychological necessity that every individual needs in order to maximize the work output as well as to avoid stress due to the interruptions especially if the work is intensive and mentally demanding.
Working at home can help the employee avoid the interruptions which normally occur at the work place. The home office can be adapted to the needs of the employee unlike at the official workplace where it might be relatively hard to change some aspects of the office to suit individual needs (Khosrowpour 46).
Negative Effects/Disadvantages of Telecommuting
One of the disadvantages of the telecommuting is the lack of expertise and the required machines needed to work away from the office for instance the means of communication and tools used in some particular work. This is worsened if the aspect of telecommuting is compulsory. A person can therefore be forced out of a job or denied access to a job because of these factors and if the employer’s terms are limited to telecommuting (Khosrowpour 46).
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According to Norman, telecommuting is a source of isolation in the society. Norman argued that workplaces are like social centers where workmates can interact with one another. The central workplaces provide interactive opportunities among the workers and the option of working at home will reduce the employees to isolations which could lead to loneliness and inefficiency. Norman further explained that the autonomy and isolation induced by telecommuting is a setback to the development of business ethics.
The telecommuting limits a person’s opportunities of learning on how to relate to others who could be workmates or customers. When working centrally at the employer’s location, workers are subjected to ethical codes that mould them to interactive personalities, a critical aspect of the social life. Telecommuting therefore discourages development of business ethics in employees. Business ethics is very vital for the growth of a business especially if the business interacts more often with the consumers (Nie 1).
The aspect of telecommuting is seen to be a dual sided innovation. The aspect has a variety of social advantages like bringing families together and provision of care to the needy by a working individual. It also helps a person to organize personal schedules into more activities due to its flexibility as well as providing a favorable working environment which a person can easily set. On the other hand it has social setbacks like isolations that can lead to poor interpersonal relationships and monotony among others.
Business. Telecommuting. Reference for Business, 2011. Web. <https://www.referenceforbusiness.com/encyclopedia/Str-The/Telecommuting.html>
Khosrowpour, Mehdi. Success and pitfalls of information technology management. New York, NY: Idea Group Inc, 1999. Print.
Kizza, Migga. Ethical and Social Issues in the Information Age. London, UK: Springer, 2010. Print.
Nie, Norman. Social impacts of teleworks. Canadian Telework Association, 2011. Web.