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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, email 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 ?
* Flexible work conditions were very satisfying for the workers so that they skipped long commuting into the office (21% of the teleworkers said they commuted 60 min/day);
To help solve some of the security concerns with wired and wireless connections, nearly all teleworkers connect back to their offices via a virtual private network, or VPN.
* to identify all telework, health, safety and ergonomics training given to teleworkers; and
The authors found that the supervisors were concerned about several challenges, including reduced face-to-face communication, ineffective teamwork because of decreased interaction, less managerial control over teleworkers and their performance, nonteleworker jealousies, home distractions, and inadequate technology and file access.
As someone who is a teleworker -- I provide professional writing and communications services for a living -- I admit I am envious of government employees.
Furthermore, an investigation into teleworkers and non-teleworkers perceptions regarding being managed for results and being provided with constructive feedback is sorely needed for several reasons.
Firstly, it improves employee satisfaction: Freed from the rat race of the long commute, teleworkers can more easily find a balance between work and life - and the time they would have spent stuck in traffic jams can be used to work for the company.
The survey has sparked calls for better support for teleworkers, after Prime Minister Julia Gillard committed to boosting the number of public servants working remotely up from 4 percent to 12 percent by 2020.
Dr Mona Mustafa, assistant professor of human resource management at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), has spent the last eight years researching the habits of teleworkers in the West.
According to Sabrina Pabilonia, a researcher at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these workers fall into three categories; those who bring work home they couldn't complete in the office; occasional teleworkers; and entrepreneurs who work only from a home office.