|TELECOMMUTING: DREAM COME TRUE?|
November 14, 1997
in this forum:
What is the best way to convince employers to try telecommuting? What are the risks involved with telecommuting? Are there any tax deductions that encourage telecommuting? What is the accountability process for telecommutiers to show their work? Additional questions and comments.
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Zaoliang Luo of Munich, Germany asks: I want know more information about Telecommuting in the international sphere. Does the U.S. lead the way, or are there examples of other countries implementing successful telecommuting systems? What lessons can be learned?
Dr. Michelle Weil responds:I have seen no evidence of other countries embracing telecommuting as we have in some urban areas of the United States. However, in our chapter on Corporate TechnoStress, we describe a two-year research study we performed in 23 countries that showed marked differences in the use of technology around the world. Certain countries showed eager acceptance of technology in the home, business and leisure while others were either hesitant or downright resistant. For example, people in Singapore and Israel, two of the countries where we conducted our studies, were what we call "Eager Adopters" of all technologies thanks to an open cultural attitude and government support. Other countries were not so eager. These factors will obviously play a major role in the future of "international telecommuting."
Mr. Jack Nilles responds:At least half of the world's telecommuters are in the U.S., about 13 million of them at the moment. There should be about 2.6 million telecommuters (including more general teleworkers, including some home-based businesses) in the European Union countries by the end of this year. There are 1 million telecommuters in Canada and a few hundred thousand in Japan. There MAY be as many as 2.5 million teleworkers in Eastern Europe, including Russia, but that figure is harder to verify. Annual telework growth rates generally exceed 20% in most of the developed world, although the U.S. has slowed down, percentage-wise. Almost all of these are part-time, home-based teleworkers.
I have spent quite a bit of time in Europe and Asia in the past five years and have concluded that the three primary barriers to faster acceptance of telecommuting are: 1. Managers' resistance based on fears of loss of control, 2. Managers' resistance based on fears of loss of control, and, 3. Managers' resistance based on fears of loss of control.
The growing acceptance of the Internet and intranets with remote access is eroding these fears as managers learn that it is possible for people to work effectively together even when they are in widely separate locations..
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