Telecommuting, e-commuting, e-work, telework, working at home (WAH), or working from home (WFH) is a work arrangement in which employees enjoy flexibility in working location and hours. In other words, the daily commute to a central place of work is replaced by telecommunication links. Many work from home, while others, occasionally also referred to as "nomad workers" or "web commuters" utilize mobile telecommunications technology to work from coffee shops or myriad other locations. Telework is a broader term referring to substituting telecommunications for any form of work-related travel, thereby eliminating the distance restrictions of telecommuting. All telecommuters are teleworkers but not all teleworkers are telecommuters. A frequently repeated motto is that "work is something you do, not something you travel to." A successful telecommuting program requires a management style which is based on results and not on close scrutiny of individual employees. This is referred to as management by objectives as opposed to management by observation.
Long distance telework is facilitated by such tools as virtual private networks, videoconferencing, and Voice over IP. It can be efficient and useful for companies as it allows staff and workers to communicate over a large distance, saving significant amounts of travel time and cost. As broadband Internet connections become more commonplace, more and more workers have enough bandwidth at home to use these tools to link their home office to their corporate intranet and internal phone networks.
On the microeconomic scale, companies have used telecommunication to help build global empires. This is self-evident in the case of online retailer Amazon.com but even the conventional retailer Wal-Mart has benefited from better telecommunication infrastructure compared to its competitors.
In cities throughout the world, home owners use their telephones to organize many home services ranging from pizza deliveries to electricians. Even relatively poor communities have been noted to use telecommunication to their advantage. In Bangladesh's Narshingdi district, isolated villagers use cell phones to speak directly to wholesalers and arrange a better price for their goods. In Cote d'Ivoire, coffee growers share mobile phones to follow hourly variations in coffee prices and sell at the best price.
On the macroeconomic scale, experts suggest a direct link between good telecommunication infrastructure and economic growth. Due to the economic benefits of good telecommunication infrastructure, there is increasing worry about the digital divide. This is because the world's population does not have equal access to telecommunication systems. A 2003 survey by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) revealed that roughly one-third of countries have less than 1 mobile subscription for every 20 people and one-third of countries have less than 1 fixed line subscription for every 20 people. In terms of Internet access, roughly half of all countries have less than 1 in 20 people with Internet access. From this information, as well as educational data, the ITU was able to compile an index that measures the overall ability of citizens to access and use information and communication technologies. Using this measure, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland received the highest ranking while the African countries Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali received the lowest.
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