ITGS Syllabus

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Topic 151

Social and environmental impact and ethical considerations of telecommuting by Su Chen

Telecommuting is the most widely recognized trip---saving application of telecommunications. Telecommuting usually means office-based employees using telecommunications to work at their homes or at a nearby alternative office for a few days each week instead of commuting a longer distance to work. A successful telecommuting program requires a management style which is based on results and not on close scrutiny of individual employees.

We often say that telecommunications is the most important part of the telecommuting, but what is it? Telecommunication is the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. In modern times, this process almost always involves the sending of electromagnetic waves by electronic transmitters.

Today, telecommunication is widespread and devices that assist the process, such as the television, radio, telephone and in term of internet, are common in many parts of the world. It can be efficient and useful for companies as it allows staff and workers to communicate over a large distance, saving significant amounts of travel time and cost. Two or more people may communicate over the Internet using microphones, speakers and video cameras. The audio and video are digitized and sent as a digital message, so it is pretty fast. At the same time the quality of the communication is very good as well.

Today, almost everyone has their personal computer in the home, and of course the internet. Everyday, people spend so much time on the internet, whether to chat with each other or work through the internet. We have to say that internet is in everywhere, it is a big component of our society. Before, people may never think about talking to people over the world by using the internet. But later on we have MSN and Google messengers and some other chat tools which allow people send and receive message immediately. Right now, speakers and web cam even provide us a chance to speak to each other face by face. Technology expands super fast over the world. And now here comes the Telecommuting. Telecommuting first gained more ground in the United States in 1996 as a solution to traffic congestion caused by single-car commuting, and the resulting urban air pollution and petroleum use.

Telecommuting increases the employability of marginalized groups, such as mothers and fathers with small children, the handicapped and people living in remote areas. It can also reduce an individual’s car pollution over the time through minimizing daily outside commuting. The set up also offers possibilities for increase service and internationalization, since telecommuters in different time zones can ensure that a company is virtually open for business around the clock. And actually it has provided many advantages.

Telecommuting has actually forced service providers to increase network performance, improve reliability, improve architecture, and improve their strategies. It also allows for travel avoidance that saves on time, traffic jams and etc. More important thing is that telecommuting provides employee flexibility, eases the working parent’s burden, increase employee productivity and reduces absenteeism.

A good example for all these can be for single parent family, parent does not need to go to the office instead he or she can just stay at home take care about the kids at the same time. Although it may be a little thing for some one, in fact it really help single parent family in terms of saving time and when they are at working in the home they won’t always think about their kids, worry about their safety, etc. These are the social effects of the telecommuting.

However, telecommuting actually does create some problems. Think about you are a member of a team, and your team get involved in a big project and each of or two of you need to work on same thing. Although, by using the telecommuting you two do not need to meet together but can discuss with each other, it sounds pretty cool. In fact, the connection or relationship (trustiness?) between you two may some kind of shake in term of no coffee time and lunch together so on. More problems will come out, you two may get into a divergence which can not solve by using the telecommuting.

At this time, you two need to sit down and talk face by face. But I have to say the benefit of telecommuting is actually greater than the bad influence of it. Don’t you think that’s why people develop and accept this new way of working? One thing we should really think about is the future of human relationship. So since telecommuting so common and widespread over the world, therefore there is a potential that everyone follow this trend and start to work at home rather than actually go to the office.

I don’t know what you think, but what I think is that people with no talk to each other face by face will have a wall between them. Little by little, people may even forget how to actually talk to other since they often do not need to do so. The decline of human relationship is inevitable. And I think this is the one thing we should really think about it.


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