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Jon C. Messenger

This chapter begins by explaining how telework has evolved over its 40 years of existence since its origins in the US state of California in the mid-1970s. This evolution has occurred in three distinct but overlapping stages: first, the home office, then the mobile office, and most recently, the virtual office. The chapter then presents a conceptual framework of telework based on this evolutionary process, which serves as the conceptual ‘backbone’ of the volume and helps us to categorize and compare the many forms of telework that exist. Next, it reviews the international literature regarding the direct and indirect effects of various forms of telework on a range of outcomes, primarily working time (hours and schedules), work–life balance, occupational safety and health, and individual and organizational performance. Following this review, the chapter provides a detailed description of the methodology and the main data sources that will be used in the country-specific analyses presented in the remainder of this volume.

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Lutz Gschwind and Oscar Vargas

Europe combines several unique features in regard to the development, incidence and effects of telework. Many countries on the continent have seen large-scale economic shifts over the past five decades, away from employment in manufacturing and towards information and telecommunication-enabled service and knowledge-based jobs. This development has coincided with an increasing demand for flexible workplace and working time policies at the national, sectoral and company levels, fuelled by a steady rise in dual-earner households owing to increasing female labour market participation. Europe is also unique in the sense that policy-making and social dialogue are embedded in a 2002 framework agreement for telework on the supranational level, namely the European Union. This agreement among EU-level social partners has changed the nature of dialogue and policy-making in relation to telework in ways not found outside the region. A comparison of European countries also reveals how telework can, against the backdrop of these common characteristics, develop differently depending on social and economic settings. The chapter discusses these particularities in detail using 2015 data from the European Working Conditions Survey and detailed national reports compiled by experts from ten countries on the Continent.

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Akio Sato

A report from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (of Japan estimates that, in 2016, 14.2 per cent of workers in Japan engage in telework, including mobile telework. The government is eager to promote teleworking as one of the measures by which to increase the size of the workforce while improving work–life balance. Several enterprises, led by some of the largest in Japan, have succeeded in supporting employees – especially women with children – by introducing telework systems; and through these systems, workers have secured employment without imposing an adverse effect on their business career. However, company or organizational rules frequently do not allow the majority of their employed teleworkers to engage regularly in telework. Many employed workers who are not formally allowed by their employers to telework continue working on tasks that cannot be finished within regular work hours by teleworking informally. Therefore, many such ‘informal teleworkers’ frequently engage in holiday or late-night teleworking, and the practice tends to lengthen their work hours.

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Kate Lister and Tom Harnish

Technology has forever changed how, when and where people work. In the United States, approximately 80 per cent of workers say they would like to work remotely at least some of the time and approximately 40 per cent already do so. Over three-quarters of US employees say that their ability to use technology outside of working hours is a positive development. Also, while the feeling of being ‘always on’, loneliness and worry about career implications are among the negatives cited by teleworkers, they are mitigated by the benefits, such as reduced work–life conflict, increased autonomy, feeling trusted and empowered, and reduced commuter travel. This chapter examines the impact of telework on employees, organizations and society, and offers strategies researchers and organizational leaders have found most effective for optimizing the practice.

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Sonia Boiarov

This chapter compiles information on the current incidence of teleworking in Argentina, especially that related to the form of organization of the work, and the work-life balance of teleworkers. Sources include data from the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), interviews with companies, articles in newspapers and journals, academic theses and surveys. Teleworking is very new in Argentina; only 2.7 per cent of all workers work away from their employer’s premises. This chapter addresses the different psychological risks factors that this new work model can entail, such as the health effects triggered by longer and atypical work hours. Conversely, it also covers the possible benefits teleworking can have, including control and independence in work, a better work–life balance and greater flexibility.

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Alvaro Mello and Armando Dal Colletto

This chapter aims to improve knowledge about the diffusion, performance and potential of telework carried out by workers using information and communications technologies (ICTs) outside Brazilian employers’ premises. The search for new work models is a potential source of competitive advantages, telework being one of these new stars. Through access to secondary data, cases and examples, collected in extensive research and following the International Labour Organization (ILO) methodologies, we describe important benefits, problems and success factors regarding telework, which are always dependent on ICTs and leadership support. Owing to the lack of official data, the incidence of telework must be calculated indirectly based on the combination of other surveys. Results show that 16.2 per cent of the Brazilian workforce participates in telework. Important factors such as the correlation among type of organization, type of job and intensity of the incidence are described, as is what is important from the employees’ side to increase the possibility of successful implementation. The chapter also presents advancements in Brazilian legislation and work regulation systems, showing the several law projects, ordinances and other measures that legally support telework. Conclusions highlight the importance of telework to the social and economic development of an emerging country such as Brazil.

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Ernesto Noronha and Premilla D’Cruz

Telework is defined as using information and communications technologies to work beyond the employers’ premises. In India, the dominant notion is that telework is meant for married people and women who are primarily employed in the information technology/information technology-enabled services, or the finance or media sectors. The chapter finds that although employees from these sectors dominate telework, but other sectors such as hospitality, telecommunications and manufacturing also employ teleworkers. Teleworking is not only restricted to married women, but is equally availed of by both married men and unmarried employees. However, teleworking is not an employee prerogative; the final decision rests with management, which must implement measures to maintain control. Not surprisingly, a substantial number of teleworking employees report that they work all the time. Consequently, teleworkers argue that employees should have more say when it comes to setting targets, influencing performance appraisals and accessing promotions, privileges, leave and holidays, and overtime payments.

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Jon C. Messenger

This chapter summarizes the main conclusions and recommendations for policy and practice arising from the country-specific analyses presented in the volume. It begins by reviewing the main drivers promoting the expansion of telework in the countries analysed in this volume, as well as the barriers that have restrained this expansion. The chapter continues with broad comparisons of the incidence and intensity (or extent) of telework in the different countries, followed by an extensive synthesis of the key findings for the following dimensions of the world of work: working time, work–life balance, occupational health and well-being, and individual and organizational performance. Policy responses relating to telework at the national, sectoral and company levels are reviewed and discussed. The chapter then provides recommendations for both national telework policy and company/organizational and individual practices that can promote the expansion of telework and can aid implementation in ways that maximize its advantages and limit its potential disadvantages. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the global outlook for the future of telework.

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Telework in the 21st Century

An Evolutionary Perspective

Edited by Jon C. Messenger

Technological developments have enabled a dramatic expansion and also an evolution of telework, broadly defined as using ICTs to perform work from outside of an employer’s premises. This volume offers a new conceptual framework explaining the evolution of telework over four decades. It reviews national experiences from Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan, the United States, and ten EU countries regarding the development of telework, its various forms and effects. It also analyses large-scale surveys and company case studies regarding the incidence of telework and its effects on working time, work-life balance, occupational health and well-being, and individual and organizational performance.