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Publication Title | Remote Office Work Changing Work Patterns in Space and Time

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other organizations "on the side." On a more subtle note, scvcral individuals indicated that if they did not have this work arrangement they would have left the company; life style considcrations apparently played a more significant role than organizalional commitment.
The Relationship of Work and Nonwork Activities
The option to work at home affects the individual's relationship to nonwork activities (i.e., leisure and mainte- n;~nc:cat:livitics j8. 1.21) as well ns his or hcr relationship
to work. In the long run, it is expected that work and nonwork will become more integrated, not separated as they are today for any employee of an organization.
What is the effect of work a t home on family rela- tionships and family discipline?
Several of those interviewed had difficulties with their families accepting that they were working when at home and were not available to take care of family needs; in some cases this led to termination of the work-at-home arrangement. In the short run, some training of the family is needed to prepare for a work-at-home arrangement. In the long run, work-at-home may facilitate alternatives for family care, such as shared responsibility, that are often not practically feasible today.
What are the effects of living and working in the same environment on the i~dividual'sfeelings of social isolation and stress? How does it affect the individual's physical habits?
The single person who lives alone may at first appear to be an ideal candidate for work-at-home because of few distractions or other responsibilities in the home environ- mcnt. On the other hand, this person may benefit the most from social contacts at work and would be ex- tremely isolated socially if deprived of that contact. As mentioned already, some individuals interviewed experi- enced increased stress because of conflicting work and nonwork responsibilities. Nearly half of those interviewed
felt they had problems with physical habits working at home: they ate more, drank more coffee, smoked more.
What is the effect of work-at-home on the individ- ual's relationship to the community?
Since more individuals would live and work in the s;imc con~munityi,i is cxpectcd that a widesprcad trend toward work-at-home would lead to an economic resurg- ence of small, relatively remote communities, a dramatic change from urban and suburban development. In the short run, it has been predicted that those who work at home will spend more of their leisure time in community- rclatcd activities. Although this trend was not apparent in thc activities of those interviewed, it warrants further in- ves tiga tion.
If it is acceptcd that remote work, particularly work-at- home, will become a widespread trend, the traditional definitions of work versus nonwork may need to be al- tered. The trend will be toward integration of work and nonwork activities; this integration is'currently not well- defined, nor are its implications well-understood. In a broader sense, the implications of accepting locational and temporal flcxibility into the definition of work activi- tics and organizational membership nccd to bc cxamincd closely.
Some of the issues regarding remote work and its feasi- bility have been examined. Clearly, more rcscarch is rc- quired before such an alteration of thc definition of work becomes commonplace. Interviews with thosc who work at home are at best pointers to the critical problem areas. The author suggests that at this point controlled experi- ments with pilot remote work programs are required. Longitudinal studies of the progress of pilot programs and the attitudes of their participants are critical.
In practical terms, the feasibility of remote work today comes down to individual choices: guidelines for selecting individuals and jobs and monitoring them should be clearly stated. More important, management should have a clear idea of both the problems and opportunities and have realistic expectations about the potential for success.
In the long run, the author feels that remote work will only become successful when the concept is institutional- ized. Organizations will need to realize that they need to give employees more options in space and timc in order to ensure increased motivation and productivity. In addition, changes in expectations of individual career paths and organizational responsibility for employee well-being will be required.
In the future, organizational expectations should reflect
a broadcr view of all aspects of individui~lnccrls-work, family, leisure, etc.--and the mechanisms to accommo- date those needs. The challenge to researchers is to evalu- ' ate organizational options such as remote work in order
to determine whether they are feasible alternatives to meet the changing needs of organizations and individuals in the future.
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CR Calegories and Subject Descriptors: H.4.1 [Inforn,ation Systems Applications]: Officc Automation: K.4.3 [Computers and Society]: Orgnni- zational Impacts
General Terma: Human Factors, Mnnagcmcnt
Additionnl Key Words nnd Phmses: remote work. remote Inilnitgerncllt. tclccommuting. Lelecommunications/transport~ttiot~ra~dcoffs
Receivccl 6/82; revised and accepted 9/02
Center for Digital Economy Research Stem School of Business
IVorking Paper IS-8 1-56

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