Information Technology has a great effect on society today, changing lives of many people in school, home and at work. I will be looking at how information technology has had a great effect in working practices. Technology has changed the lives of both employees and employers bringing both advantages and disadvantages. The topic, which I will be looking at, is teleworking and what are its advantages and disadvantages to both the employee and the employer.
Teleworking, sometimes called telecommuting, means working from home using modern technology to keep in touch with your business. Often teleworkers are based at home but they can also work from telecenters and satellite offices. Heathcote (1998) says Teleworking involves carrying out work away from the office and communicating with the employer through the use of computer and telecommunications equipment. Jobs can be relocated to places where it is more attractive, more convenient or cheaper to live.
At present, teleworking is most advanced in the U.S. with only 3% of European employees engaged in teleworking along with an estimated 20 million worldwide. Predictions are that by the year 2006, the number could increase. Teleworking is facilitated by the recent rapid advances in the power of enabling technologies coupled with a significant reduction in their prices. These technologies include e-mail, ISDN, PCs, high speed modems and so on.
Tools Needed For Teleworking
To enable an employee to efficiently work from home they need the right equipment to enable them to do so. This is why the correct tools are essential. Here are the results of a survey conducted by (Http: 1)
99% of teleworkers have a PC.Teleworkers ask for ‘financial recompense for wear and tear on own equipment (and home PC hard disk space)’.
95% use the telephone for business calls.Teleworkers ask for ‘an additional phone line to work online and talk on the phone’.
87% own a modem:99% use the internet for research, retrieving information for their job and the email. Teleworkers request ‘cheaper internet access/cheaper ISDN lines’.
Only 63% use a fax in their teleworking routine.Teleworkers request ‘lower telecommunication costs offered to teleworkers by the service sector’.
Teleworkers also use: –
Equipment is usually bought from the employees themselves although now more and more employers are responsible for providing equipment for employees. This also includes costs for damages and any upgrades that might be needed.
Advantages and Disadvantages for the Employee
Some employees find that the advantage of teleworking is that they have flexible hours, they can still work when they want to and still be able to spend time at home with the family and there normal household jobs. However some people teleworkers find that this is a disadvantage as they are unable to separate work from family life, which is a cause of tension in the home as they are unable to talk to family members. Working from home is also known to reduce stress of employees as they find that they can work better in the comfort of their own home rather than in a busy office environment. Although this is not always the case as some employees find that working at home is a distraction from their work especially if they have young children in the home that need them constantly. They also find themselves becoming lazy and try to put off doing work as long as possible and do not have the enthusiasm that they would have in their work than if they were working in an office.
Another advantage of teleworking is that teleworkers are able to work in teams and can do their work together by contacting each other through telephone, e-mail or fax. Many teleworkers however disagree with this as they say that they do not have enough support from the office or work mates and it is difficult to contact them and communicate over a telephone. Johnson. M. (1997).
Another advantage is that there is more work opportunities for employees. This is a specific advantage for the disabled and people from other countries. Disable who would not normally be able to work can work from there own home without having to travel, which can be a problem and have all the equipment that they need. This can also mean better work opportunities for people who cannot work during normal office hours.
Many employees benefit from not having to move away from home to work. This means that they save money on travel costs such as petrol and car repairs. It also means that they spend extra hours working that a normal person would spend travelling to work. Constant delays and traffic is also a known cause for stress and can make workers tired when they arrive at work.
A disadvantage for teleworkers is that they can become unsocial as they stay at home and do not get to meet new people or socialise with friends. However some employees say that they are glad that they do not have to socialise with colleagues especially if they find it difficult to get on with people and they work better when they don’t have someone looking over their shoulder checking on them Zabar.D.J. (2002).
Teleworkers have less chance of being promoted or having any bonuses this can make them feel less enthusiastic about their work.
Advantages and Disadvantages for the Employer
An advantage to employers is that they can save on costs such as workspace, electricity, heating and lighting. Although there are other costs to the employer such as paying for communication costs and some employers will provide equipment for their employees as well. Employers have also said that employees that who work at home produce better work although as I have mentioned before this is not always the case. As employees become lazy when they do not have a supervisor to watch them. Another advantage is that employers have flexible staffing they can now employ more experienced and more knowledgeable staff from around the world.
A disadvantage is that it is difficult for employees to see how well they are working and if they are putting their full amount of effort into their work “If I can’t see them, I can’t control them.”
Also as information is constantly going to be sent through the Internet the company is more prone to hackers who want to steel or view their confidential data.
What Would Improve Teleworking For Employees
A survey conducted by (http: 2) asked a majority of teleworkers what would improve teleworking for them. The results are as follows: –
10% say they would like better support from the office
23% say that would like more communication with employees
30% say that they would like to have better equipment
37% say that they would like a better home working environment
I have taken these results and have produced them on a graph: –
These statistics were received from (http:3) I then converted these figures in form of a chart.
These statistics were also received from http: 3: –
In 1993 there were only 130,000 people teleworking, or half a percent of the workforce. A year later this figure jumped to 560,000. Teleworking statistics were first introduced in the Labour Force Survey in 1997 and have grown by an average of 13 percent a year. Over the period 1997 to 2001, the total increase in teleworking is up by between 65 and 70 percent, with further growth predicted.
The majority of teleworkers are men (67 percent), while they make up only 53 percent of the workforce. Teleworkers are predominately from the following industry groups: professional; managerial and senior officials; and associate professional and technical. Although the self-employed are strongly represented among teleworkers, their share is decreasing.
International comparisons show that teleworking in the UK is just above the average for ten EU countries covered by a recent survey. Germany and France have the smallest proportion of employed people working as teleworkers, while Finland has the highest proportion.
From the above it is evident that there are both advantages and disadvantages to both the employee and the employer. Even with disadvantages teleworking is still said to be expanding all over the world and it has been predicted that it will carry on doing so.
Heathcote. P.M. (1998) Information Technology, Payne Gallway: Ipswich
Http: 1, Teleworking Today, Available online at http://www.si-cbx.com/teleworking/twfacts.html. Date of download 10th of November 2002
Http: 2, Teleworking, Available online at http://www.teleworker.org/articles/teleworking.html. Date of Download 10th of November 2002
Http: 3, Teleworking in the UK, Available online at http://www.national.statistics.gov.uk/telworking.htm. Date of download 12th of November 2002
Johnson. M. (1997) Teleworking in Brief, Butterworth-Hienman, Kent
Lynch .F. (1999), Information Analysis, AT Foulks Ltd, Middlesex
Zabar.D.J. (2002), Teleworking and Telecommuting, Made Ez Products, Reading.