Telecommuting is the way to go

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SummaryYahoo CEO Marissa Mayer might have scrapped the company’s work-from-home programme, but telecommuting has obvious advantages over travelling to work in office spaces

It is that time when we recall and summarise the many events and occurrences of the year that is to end. Looking at the accelerated pace with which the world is going digital, the recently released Ericsson Mobility Report found that during 2013, the total data traffic generated by mobile phones exceeded the amount of traffic generated by mobile PCs, tablets and routers.

According to the Ericsson Report, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions is expected to increase from about 2 billion today to 7 billion by 2019. About 10% of the 850 million mobile subscribers in India are mobile internet users and this number is expected to reach 165 million by 2015, This is augmented by an exponential growth in smartphones and tablets, across both developed and emerging countries. In India, quarterly sale of smartphones is more than 10 million, almost 3 times that of last year.

These market developments coupled with technology advances have increased mobility of individuals and the ability to work from remote locations, and consequently, the freedom to locate further away from the Central Business District (CBD) and other city centres where their offices are.

By definition, telecommuting is the process of commuting to work through communication links rather than through one's physical presence. Telecommuting refers to working from home, and in non-traditional satellite offices, in tele-cottages, or in neighbourhood offices. Teleworking refers to the partial or complete substitution of the trip to and from the work place by telecommunications technology usage. Ubiquitous broadband connectivity, powerful computers, smartphones and tablets with productivity and communication enhancing applications, sophisticated remote access and monitoring tools, and enterprise-enabled cloud computing have reduced the physical barriers that formerly required employees to be always in their offices.

Telecommuting has the potential to benefit urban areas, employers, employees and society. The benefits of telecommuting for urban areas can be substantial if they reduce long rush-hour commutes and congestion. In Bangalore, for instance, during 1991-2001, the average one-way commute increased from 25 minutes to 41 minutes. In the UK, some estimates are that 2.5 hours are added to work-related journeys each week because of congestion.

Telecommuting increases employee productivity by reducing the need to travel, and by allowing them to work at times they are likely to be at their best, and by reducing office distractions. National Panasonic found through its research that 50% of employee-time in branch offices was spent on administrative work

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