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an arrangement by which people work at home using a computer and telephone, accessing work-related materials at a business office, or transmitting materials to an office, by means of a Internet connection; it is also known as telework. Telecommuting hours can range from the occasional morning or afternoon to nearly full-time work. Although the term "telecommuting" was coined in the early 1970s, the practice only became popular in the 1990s as personal computerspersonal computer
(PC), small but powerful computer primarily used in an office or home without the need to be connected to a larger computer. PCs evolved after the development of the microprocessor made possible the hobby-computer movement of the late 1970s, when some computers
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 became more affordable and the InternetInternet, the,
international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises (called gateways
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 became more accessible. Initially conducted using a modemmodem
[modulator/demodulator], an external device or internal electronic circuitry used to transmit and receive digital data over a communications line normally used for analog signals.
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 and telephone lines, telecommuting was made more feasible by cable and fiber-optic Internet connections. The development of lightweight portable computers and, later, smart phones also increased the ease of telecommuting. Government agencies and environmental groups have encouraged telecommuting because it reduces pollution, saves gasoline, and creates a less congested commuting environment. Companies have used telecommuting as a way of keeping valued employees who might otherwise be lost due to relocation or commuting stress. Although some people feel they can be more productive when working at home, others prefer an office environment.


The practice of working at home and communicating with your fellow workers through the phone, typically with a computer and modem. Telecommuting saves the employee getting to and from work and saves the employer from supplying support services such as heating and cleaning, but it can also deprive the worker of social contact and support.


Working at home and communicating with the office by phone, e-mail and video conferencing. At the beginning of the 21st century, more than 30 million Americans were telecommuting at least one day a week. Also called "teleworking" and "e-working."

Telecommuting Goes Way Back
In the 1960s, information technology was one of the first industries to let employees telecommute. A small number of programmers worked at home one or more days a week; however, the only link to the office was the telephone. There were no modems attached to desktop computers because there were no desktop computers. A few programmers may have had the luxury of a terminal connected to a mainframe or minicomputer, but the majority wrote source code using pencil and paper. They later created the input by "punching cards" and testing the program at a local datacenter. See virtual company, telecity, ROWE and hoteling.

A Lot Has Changed
Today, telecommuters can emulate "being there" with devices such as the Double from Double Robotics. See telepresence. (Image courtesy of Double Robotics, Inc.,
References in periodicals archive ?
It's E-Working programme is ambitious, yet very realistic.
To help employers see the benefits of e-working, the Telework Association is running a series of conferences around the UK in November.
Traffic congestion, unreliable railways and lack of confidence in the airlines means that more employees are considering the benefits of e-working.
Action is needed over a range of critical issues, including costs, human resources, infrastructure deficits, e-commerce usage and research and development and the promotion of e-working to enhance business competitiveness.
The ATM service will create a company-wide "Intranet Backbone" on which TietoEnator can run internal e-services based on their own "Global Office" concept -- a customised platform for collaborative e-working.
Many of them could quite easily be deployed in e-working from home, using computer links to their department's central offices," he suggested yesterday.
Founded in April 1999, eWork is the Web's unique market-based exchange where project managers and e-working professionals connect, engage and work together to complete projects online.
He conceded, though: "While significant progress has been made towards all the recommendations, I know that more still needs to be done to ensure that the full benefits of e-working are harnessed - thereby giving the Irish economy as a whole the edge.
He said: "The reason people have not been realising the true potential of E-working to date is that firms and employees have been unsure and apprehensive.