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Home Based Work and Telework:
where home meets workplace

Following from the section on Virtual Organizations, this section will look at teleworking and home based working. The Encyclopedia from CALT at Insead offers a large selection of material that may be of general interest for this and other sections concerned with different types of virtual group.

Telework is a generic name given to work that involves some form of interaction with others but does not necessarily involve being in the same place as them. The literal definition of telework is "working at a distance", however in practice, telework can range from a 'lifestyle choice' to a corporate policy which the teleworker has little choice but to accept. Some people focus exclusively on work done from the home, while others include work done in satellite offices or 'on the road'. Telework is frequently described as telecommuting or home based working, although it is also sometimes called mobile working, location-independent work or, more idealistically, working in the electronic cottage.

Telework is often seen as an example of cold distributed collaborative working. Cold distributed collaborative work can even take place within a single organization where the loose coupling of activities can be a reflection of organizational autonomy, e.g. when collaborative work takes place in different communities or departments within an organization. In such cases, the work takes place at different physical locations and/or at different times, e.g. an individual may work alone to write a report for later use by the rest of the group. Viewed in this way, telework is a form of group work that exploits differences in time and geography. The stress is on doing work anywhere at any time against a pace and sequence of work that is driven by technological necessity or requirements of work-cycle synchronicity.

However we define telework, some fundamental problems remain. Firstly, telework means that there are few opportunities for social or professional interaction, which can lead to isolation, stagnation and poor performance; problems often compounded by the difficulty of effectively managing such work. Secondly, work will not only take place at different physical locations but also at different times. Once work can take place anywhere at any time, home based work need no longer be driven by the rhythms and cycles of the physical office. Thus, the co-ordination of a group activities and the effective sharing of knowledge can pose significant problems for telework.

For a further discussion of this topic, see Telework: An example of Cold Distributed Collaborative Work? from the MSc IP HI2 course.






General - (links to links)

Home Based Work Telecommuting

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