SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration
Telecommuting resistance, soft but strong: Development of telecommuting over time, and related rhetoric, in three organisations
Abstract: Telecommuting, or working part of the time from another
location than the office, normally from home, has been tried by several
organisations in the recent years. This has not always been a success.
Still, many arguments in favour of telecommuting are forwarded by previous
studies. This paper investigates the development of telecommuting in three
organisations, and elaborates on mechanisms behind the fact that the
practice of telecommuting has not been as widespread as expected. The study
is longitudinal, covering three years, and mainly based on interviews. The
practice of telecommuting is found to have a negative development over time
in all three cases. The social/symbolic aspects are found to be strong, but
initially not reflected upon by the organisations. Many arguments in early
phases of telecommuting are of a rational/functional nature, and tend to
treat work as an output-related activity, without considering social and
symbolic aspects of distancing oneself from the worksite and the
colleagues. Over time, symbolic aspects become more pronounced. This
complements/overrides the rational/functional arguments initially used by
those in favour of telecommuting. This shift over time needs to be taken
into account to understand the initial positive response to, but
difficulties to sustain telecommuting.
Keywords: Telework; telecommuting; Geographical dispersion; Organisation; (follow links to similar papers)
16 pages, April 3, 2002
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