Themes > Technology >Home comforts at work
Home comforts at work
Technological advances have helped us to save time and effort in many areas of life. At work we already appreciate such benefits as computerisation and fast communication via e-mail and satellites. There is now a growing trend towards moving technology into our home and staying there to work. A recent survey in the UK reported that one in five of the working population now spends at least part of the working week at home, "teleworking". But how attractive and feasible is teleworking really?


What are the advantages of teleworking?

British Telecom, an employer who actively encourages its workers to work from home, claims that people who work from home are up to 20% more productive than those in the office. Having greater control over their working environment means that teleworkers are generally less stressed. A report in 1994 found that teleworkers were considered to be more productive, reliable and loyal than on-site staff. The teleworker saves money on office clothes and on travelling costs (the average office-based worker spends 480 hours per year commuting, the equivalent of 60 working days). The employer saves money, too; one company, Digital, who has one quarter of its workforce teleworking, calculated that the cost of setting up an office at home for an employee, approximately £3,500, was recouped within the first year. And considering the 19.8 billion gallons of exhaust fumes every day produced from commuters' cars, there are also gains for society in general.

Why is there a trend towards teleworking?

British industry is changing. For instance, screen-based service industries have been replacing the manufacturing industries. There has also been a noticeable shift towards self-employment and people working on short-term contracts. A lot of work is now contracted out to freelance workers. In the USA, environmental awareness has played a role. The US Clean Air Act requires major employers to reduce the number of business journeys staff make into the office. As a consequence, giant companies such as AT&T and IBM have introduced an element of teleworking.

Constantly improving technology supports this trend towards teleworking. Thanks to new software coming onto the market, the average PC will be able to automate phone dialling and act as an intelligent information centre for voice messages, electronic mail and faxes.

The future

Even though there are disadvantages, such as teleworkers feeling isolated, lonely and frustrated, it seems that teleworking is here to stay. Indeed, it has been estimated that by the end of 1997, 2.25 million people in the UK will be working from home for at least three days a week. The figure will reach 5 million by the end of the century.

Reading for meaning

When you read an article, you can often guess the words you do not know from the context.

Find words or expressions in the above article which have the following meanings:

a. practicable
b. dependable
c. establishing
d. paid back
e. significant
f. move

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