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TUCoPS :: Truly Miscellaneous :: slowgo.txt

Slow Go in Telecommuting





Creators Syndicate

FIGHT BACK!  BY DAVID HOROWITZ 

Slow Go in Telecommuting 
         
        One of the major innovations being touted for the  emerging
Information Superhighway is telecommuting -- working  a couple of days
a week from a home computer connected to the  office computer by modem.
The basic telecommuting idea has  been around since the early 1970s,
waiting for more powerful  home computers, software, high-speed data
transmission, call  forwarding and low-cost fax machines to catch up
with the  concept. 
        In theory, telecommuting has many advantages over  conventional
commuting. The most obvious is reduced travel time to the office.
Companies that have tried telecommuting  have also found that working
at home reduces employee stress  and improves productivity. Future
planners say 70 percent of  office workers whose jobs involve data
processing could  telecommute at least twice a week. 
        Telecommuting got a major test following last January's 
earthquake in Los Angeles. Collapsed freeways made commuting  from
outlying suburbs a nightmare. So, the local telephone  companies joined
forces with computer-equipment suppliers and  government agencies to
set up telecommuting centers outside  the central city, where workers
could rent work space and  computer terminals to plug into their
offices by phone lines. 
        But response from the business community was mixed at  best.
Some centers have expanded, while others are still  underutilized. Why
would employees rather commute that  telecommute? There are several
reasons. 
        One is that the freeways have been repaired so commuters  no
longer face long delays getting to the office. Another is  the feeling
of being out of touch with the corporate  environment. Ambitious
aspiring managers want to be where the  action is. They want their
input felt when major decisions  are being made. They don't want to be
miles away when company  higher-ups call a meeting. Many say they can't
work  effectively in isolation. They need the creative input that 
comes from personal interaction with other employees at the  office. 
        Bosses also tend to be leery about trying to supervise 
employees who are out of their sight. In spite of evidence to  the
contrary, these managers still believe that workers will  tend to goof
off at home instead of giving their full  attention to the job. 
        Another important consideration is the cost of  telecommuting
hardware. Employees who want to work at home  must usually purchase
their own computers, software,  printers, dedicated phone lines and
even fax machines. That's  thousands of dollars out of their own
pockets. They may get  that money back eventually in reduced commuting
expenses, but  it still requires sizable up-front investments. 
        Many of these problems will work themselves out in time.  The
Environmental Protection Agency and local air-quality  agencies are
already putting pressure on large corporations  to reduce long-distance
commuting by their employees. That  may force some companies to take a
second look at  telecommuting as an option for workers who spend most
of  their days in front of computers. But it won't happen as  quickly
as future planners once predicted. Even with the most  advanced
technology, telecommuting is more likely to be an  evolution than a
revolution in the American workplace. 
        If you have questions or comments, please write to David 
Horowitz at 72662,1775. COPYRIGHT 1994 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.





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