Electronically Distributed Work Communities: Implications for Research on Telework

  • Hesse B
  • Grantham C
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Abstract

Whereas the Industrial Revolution attracted workers away from home-based community settings to central locations, the current proliferation of personal computers and asynchronous telecommunications technologies is reversing this trend. By networking employees from different geographical sites together, these technologies are producing “hybrid” organizational structures that permit their members to work within flexible schedules and in flexible places, even to the point of working at home. The result is the electronically distributed work community: a population of nonproximal coworkers who labor together electronically. This paper presents a springboard for conducting research on telework as it is understood within the context of that community. The paper begins with a brief history of telecommuting and describes its influence on the electronic community and organizational structures in general within the past two decades. The paper concludes by presenting implications for research on telework in the areas of privacy regulation, emergency preparedness, self-efficacy, temporal aspects of employee behavior, communication patterns, and organizational effectiveness.

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