There are many jobs out there where people do not even have to go into work to be productive. We call this telecommuting. It is the act of performing the job duties usually performed at work at home with the use of computers and telephones. In my case study, I will analyze the effects of telecommuting in the field of finance. I have chosen the finance sector because of the hours of operation and the work being performed. The hours of operation generally occur during the peak commuting times of 6:00-9:00am and 3:00-6:00pm. Most of the work is done at a desk usually in front of a computer. I have interviewed three people from the finance field and will explain my findings.
Telecommuting was originally visualized to reduce the traffic congestion that is occurring in major cities around the Nation. But, it also has different effects that occurred from it. It is an inexpensive solution for businesses to grow without buying more office space. The employees are finding that their families are receiving more attention. There is less neighborhood crime occurring due to the occupancy of the homes during the day(2).
When selecting candidates for telecommuting there are different characteristics that must be considered by the employer. These characteristics may include: the employees job description, personality, desire, and willingness to work from home. Holland American Line Westours used some of these characteristics in choosing who would be selected for their telecommunication program. As their telecommuting program went on, HALW received a good idea of who would be a successful telecommuter. HALW has discovered another characteristic that is important for a successful telecommuter, demographics. The tour line has come up with a list of attributes of people who tend to do well working from home:
Holland America Line Westours (HALW), a Seattle-based wholesale cruise and tour company, has recently won a national award at the National Telecommuting Advisory Council Conference for the implementation of a new technology for their reservation agents working from their homes. The tour company experimented with new technology for a call center which provides full monitoring and statistical reporting on agent activities(3).
Total time spent commuting to and from work: 40 min per day
Total number of miles to and from work: 10 miles
Commuting times: 6:30am (To), 4:30pm (From)
During the interview, she expressed how interested she is in the prospect of telecommuting. In fact, this is something that has been brought up frequently at work. As we move toward a paperless society, the finance industry seems to require less personal contact. Since she works over the phone and does not deal directly with the public, her job can easily switch over to telecommuting. She is quite independent at work and rarely comes in contact with other coworkers. She depends on computers as her main source of information. There are two major problems that have been addressed regarding the possible transition of this position to telecommuting. First, there is always the issue of funding. Telecommuting requires a high level of technology. Businesses find it hard to make a great deal of investment on this fairly new concept. Second, there is little opportunity for quality control if telecommuting is implemented. The level of service provided can not be closely monitored. Despite these issues, personal banking remains to be a good prospect for telecommuting.
Ms. Flores lives in Beacon Hill and commutes five miles to Downtown Seattle. Although this might seem minimal, she travels by way of Interstate 5 during peak hours of traffic. Telecommuting can directly affect traffic congestion by lessening the number of drivers on the road, especially during peak hours. There are fifty Seafirst Loan-By-Phone employees, not to mention other supporting personnel. If implemented on a larger scale to include bank branches, telecommuting could mean an even greater amount of cars off the road.
Total time spent commuting to and from work: 90 min per day
Total number of miles to and from work: 60 miles
Commuting times: 8:30am (To), 6:30pm (From)
Ms. Reyes feels that telecommuting can be feasibly applied to her job. As it is now, some of the billing for insurance companies can be done electronically. Others still require a form to be mailed. At any rate, the information needed to process insurance claims is readily available on computer. Accounts that are open can be researched online. Those that have been paid are researched through microfiche. Ms. Reyes thinks than microfiching can be eliminated if the database was expanded to included older accounts. As with Ms. Flores, concerns regarding funding and quality control are at issue.
Aside from working a Valley Medical Center, Ms. Reyes is also a student at the University of Washington. She spends a great deal of time traveling to and from work and school using Interstate 5. She travels during peak hours, as well. Telecommuting would save valuable travel time. There are 40 other Patient Account Representatives at Valley Medical Center. Currently, none of them carpool and most live 20 miles from work. They rely mainly on two already very congested freeways: Interstate 405 and Highway 167.
Total time spent commuting to and from work: 45 min per day
Total number of miles to and from work: 30 miles
Commuting times: 8:00am (To), 5:30pm (From)
Since she deals extensively with the public, Ms. Flores feels that telecommuting is not an alternative for her. Aside from research, the bulk of her responsibilities requires her make personal appearances for meetings and presentations. This type of interaction cannot be replaced by computer-online communication. Since telecommuting is not applicable to Ms. Floresí job, there can not be any projections on its effects on traffic.
(2)-Miles, W. (Fall, 1996). PNTAC Times
(3)-Rabal J.M. (Fall, 1996). PNTAC Times