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What is Telework?

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  • Written By: Eric Tallberg
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2016
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It would be safe to say that virtually everyone who commutes back and forth to work daily would much rather simply do their work at home. Today, walking from the bedroom to a telecommunications device in a home office is now actually quite common, and is exactly the concept behind telework. The emergence of personal computers, laptops, pocket communications devices, such as cell phones and PDAs, as well as the ubiquity of the Internet, has taken many workers out of the office, or the plant, allowing them to work remotely; in essence, to work from home, or to work from a customer's facility, on a plane, or at the beach or the golf course.

With telework, employees enjoy flexibility and a less stressful lifestyle. In addition, the family life of a teleworker is less disrupted, while the work assigned still gets done, in many cases, far more effectively. Telework also allows for a bit more flexibility as far as, for instance, contract work is concerned. A teleworker is occasionally free to use the telecommunications technology at his or her disposal to continue with an established work routine while perhaps picking up side jobs requiring no actual face-to-face contact with an employer. This becomes a bit of an issue, however, if the teleworking equipment has been provided by the employer, a fairly standard procedure.

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It has been estimated that the number of employees enjoying the benefits of telework has increased several hundred-fold in just the past ten years. Many workers use telecommunications technology to do all of their assigned work, and never even see the head office, or, in some cases must report to a regional office but once or twice a month. Some teleworkers are required to maintain a dedicated home office at their place of residence. Thereby, an employer saves the expense of a separate work office. With direct-deposit, even salaries and wages are sent directly to the employee’s bank account, with the paystubs available to the employee on-line.

There is, apparently some controversy over what the difference is between telework and telecommuting. Telework is often defined as telecommunication technology allowing a worker to use this technology to accomplish assigned tasks remotely, instead of at the job site. Telecommuting, on the other hand, is described as allowing home-based informational and communications systems to replace a worker’s commute to a distant place of employment. An employee thus becomes a telecommuter. Though telecommuting seems the more common term, words and phrases such as e-work, remote worker, and working remotely all mean, essentially, telework.

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