Telecommuting is increasingly common: Workers do all or part of their work from home and communicate with their office or colleagues by computer.How do you think society will be affected by this growth of telecommuting?
Telecommuting will have major effects in the worlds of work and family life. However, its biggest effect will be in the area of individual freedom, responsibility, and time management.
Work and workplaces will alter dramatically. Offices may become smaller, as fewer desks are needed. There will be greater need for high-bandwidth connections to link the office and the home, and even homes to other homes, as other employees and supervisors also begin working at home. Hours spent commuting, traffic jams, and fights for parking should diminish, as workers make fewer journeys or work staggered hours.
Family life will also change. Workers, both husbands and wives, can arrange their work around family commitments such as taking children to school, cooking, leisure activities, etc. However, households will also have to set aside areas for work – particularly if both spouses are telecommuting.
However, although the ideas of more time at home and less time traveling are attractive, there are some drawbacks to telecommuting. People may feel unable to escape their work, and may even work longer or more unsocial hours. The quality of work may suffer because of the reduced face-to-face interaction with other employees. There may be delays if other workers are not immediately available. Telecommuters may feel isolated or unmotivated, or insecure about decisions. A major change will be in the way people think about work as a place or an institution. Instead, they will focus on the task or product. Workers may feel less loyal to a company and more inclined to change jobs or work part-time or on contract.
In conclusion, the effects are difficult to predict because they depend on the extent to which telecommuting becomes popular. However, telecommuting could be the start of a major societal shift, possibly as big as the Industrial Revolution which created our present ideas of work.
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