The advent of telecommuting or working at home has transformed the global economy. More often referenced as ‘remote work’ by human resource specialists recruiting at-home workers, the rise of ‘off-site’ or consultancy businesses for outsourcing business processes and other core competencies formerly attributed to ‘bricks and mortar’ based employees in traditional professional roles is evidence of the radical reinterpretation of work as a meaningful and profitable task. If nomadic traditions are wrought by necessity, it is the real convenience and cost cutting value of remote work that has inevitably seduced multinational corporations worldwide. In some locations this translates to a near 10% of the workforce. Workers in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East now work at home more frequently than even their European or North American counterparts.
Trends in Connectivity
The exceptional structural change that telework or telecommuting brought the professional community has been greatly enhanced by technology driven innovation, as well as knowledge sharing by those who participate. When commuters transformed into remote workers, there was also the extra credo of environmental value accorded the entire enterprise as global greenhouse emissions reductions and other key benefits afforded rationale to the new arrangement. Such support for at home workers has led to a broader concept of the dimensions of worker responsibility and obligation to deadlines and co-workers. Information and communications technologies (ICT) have been there for the transition to virtual meetings and email exchange.
Telework is facilitated by way of software applications. Most companies use software application as system (SaaS) provider network integration of enterprise system management tools and communications platforms (i.e. conference calling, groupware, virtual private networks, videoconferencing), as well as Voice over IP (VOIP) services. SaaS extends the network of professional workers through user interface. Team members can login anywhere they might be.
It can be said that the most efficient and effective companies are those that allow employees to work together in teams. Local area networks, mobile communications apps integration and Wi-Fi converge to provide a ‘total’ value chain of operations support system. Long distance teams are now afforded the comfort of portability in connectivity. ICT platforms also mean far less travel expense to consultants and companies. The result is fantastic, suggest management specialist, as experts can be brought onboard on a project with minimal hassle.
Trends in Benefits
By 2012, it is estimated that over 50 million workers, approximately 40% of the U.S. working population could and will work from home at least some of the time. This trend is supported by the U.S. Federal Government enactment of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The Act lays forth the rules and objectives to Continuity of Operations during emergency circumstances. The legislation also ensures that management will be effect ‘on the job’ in such case. Provision for alternate rationale to remote worker contracts is sustained in part 1) to achieve cost reductions in organizational and transit expenses, 2) promote mitigation of environmental impact, or 3)toward enhancement of worker equilibrium.
The scope of work has also been impacted by the global trend in home work. From home working scenarios benefits have emerged. Multiple part-time roles are now compatible with the desires of workers as remote workers can move from one task to another in the same setting. The development of an outsourcing labor force is a tertiary benefit. If cost savings and productivity were the rationale for creating a larger remote work sphere, the restatement of outsourced business processes and other services by virtual firms employing freelance workers was an important outcome.
U.S. labor law legislation provides for the ‘employability of circumstantially marginalized’ persons. Remote work encompasses populations that may have otherwise been excluded (i.e. disabled, retiree and people residing in remote locations). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 paved the way for introduction of the telework concept as standard. Some acknowledge that remote work is also sustained by tensions in the business community. The unspoken element of all this are that some workers are not so incidentally designated as remote employees. Statistics on this issue are yet to be reported.
Recruitment professionals suggest that this has influenced points of leverage in contract negotiation with potential employees as well. Remote work flexibility is a highly desirable prerequisite for many recruits. Surveys of U.S. workers report that up to 50% of respondents asked about hire incentives, consider the potential for remote status the best incentive. Time zones, cultural adaptability and disability limitations have been removed. Workers indicate that along with economic and environmental aspects of at home work flexibility that personal value can also be nurtured more effectively. The outcome is less absenteeism and turnover across the board.
Trends in Work-at-Home Scams
One of the more critical issues on the agenda for remote workers is the many number of online scams. When the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established Project False Hopes in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation fraud complaint line (IC3) and local law enforcement agencies in 2006, the emphasis was to crackdown on escalating problem of labor related, consumer rip off scams. Investigation into ‘work at home’ scams illustrates the pervasive problem of home business scams set up to steal productivity and finance from American workers. With the ratio of credible opportunity to scam very high, remote workers are advised to telecommute on contracts with known businesses entities, and preferably traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ companies.
Victor Daily is a blogger and consultant from Brisbane, Australia. His main focus is on small businesses, especially in IT and online based companies. He currently writes for Apply Direct from Australia.
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