Telecommuting 2000

Introduction


In the UK both national and local government are looking for ways to reduce traffic and to find alternative, more environmentally sustainable ways to travel. This is vital if we are to tackle the growing crisis of congestion and if we are to meet our targets for reducing emissions. 

At the same time the way we work is changing rapidly. For a great many of the tasks we do, our presence in a particular location is no longer essential. Using computers, and advanced telecommunications, much of our work can be conducted from almost anywhere. 

All the same, most organisations and individuals do not take advantage of this new "location independence" of work. Instead they continue to undertake costly, unproductive and environmentally damaging commuting and in-work car travel. It is as if the new information and communication technologies (ICT) did not exist.

 The Transport White Paper (July 1998) does mention the potential for reducing the need to travel through teleworking (see the box on the right). However, the paper does not spell out the business advantages of teleworking. And no specific measures are proposed to encourage the nation to work "down the wire, rather than down the road". The emphasis in public policy is to encourage the nation to switch their mode of travel. 

We need to go further, and question the need to travel itself. Effective use of ICT makes it possible to eliminate costly and unnecessary travelling altogether. This applies to the activities of government as well as other employers. 

This report, based on research conducted by HOP Associates and supported by Symantec and Mitel, aims to modernise public policy thinking on traffic reduction. It shows how UK industry and organisations can improve their efficiency and contribute to improving the environment, by effective use of the new information and communications technologies.

 Telecommuting 2000 also challenges some of the key assumptions of the current government agenda. It demonstrates that: 

  • changes in the world of work have reduced the need for physical mobility
  • by incentivising employers - including government - to replace travel with use of ICT it is possible to produce economic benefits and contribute to environmental sustainability 
  • it is not necessary for workers to abandon their homes and communities on a daily basis in order to earn a living and sustain the national economy

From the UK Government's White Paper on Transport:

} Businesses may wish to consider the extent to which teleworking can reduce travel by allowing employees to work at home or at a 'satellite' work centre closer to home. This is relevant to green transport plans, particularly when teleworking can substitute for high-mileage driving patterns.

} Where staff spend a lot of time driving to clients, or places of inspection, in the course of their work, teleworking also has potential.

} We support the use of teleworking for reducing
travel … ~

White Paper Chapter 5

 

"UK industry and organisations can improve their efficiency and contribute to improving the environment, by effective use of the new information and communications technologies"

 

 

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