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Telework working?

The NYT Sunday had an interesting piece on last week's transit strike and how telework didn't seem to... well, work.

For Workers, It's Face Time Over PC Time [NYT, 12.25.2005]
As the world saw last week when the city's transit strike halted subway and bus service, telecommuting does not appear to be a mass phenomenon in New York.

Here is a piece of it:
Telecommuting does not appear to be a mass phenomenon in New York. Along with the thousands of restaurant, retail and service industry personnel, construction workers, street sweepers, teachers and other employees for whom connectivity has little to do with making a living, there were plenty of desk jockeys turning their white collars to the wind and making their way to offices, when they could presumably have worked from home.

Why has telecommuting never really been embraced in the way futurists once said it would? The answer has little to do with logistics and more to do with tribal phenomena like status, power, fear and ritual. It's also a function of the fact that even in the digital age, people in cities from New York to San Francisco just like to lay eyes on one another.

"If telecommuting were such a great idea, why do the Internet experts concentrate in a few small geographical areas?" said Kenneth T. Jackson, a professor of history and social sciences at Columbia University and the author of "The Encyclopedia of New York City."

"They, too, need the stimulation of other humans who are present in the flesh, not on a screen," he said.

It is interesting that telework -- we use telework rather than telecommuting because one really isn't commuting, they are avoding commuting, they are actually teleWORKING... Anyway, teleworking just doesn't seem to have caught on.

Here in DC, even when there are snow storms, telework doesn't seem to be a feasible alternative for most people. And I don't know if it is that managers don't really appreciate or trust that people are actually working... or that people don't really like it as much as they sometimes say they do.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Dec 26, 2005 at 12:15 PM


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