McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Community News Network

December 31, 2012

How telecommuting threatens the work/life balance

The early case for telecommuting — made most prominently by Alvin Toffler in his best-selling "The Third Wave" in 1980 — had a strong romantic flavor to it. For futurists like Toffler, the home office would be an "electronic cottage" that might "glue the family together again," provide "greater community stability," and even trigger a "renaissance among voluntary organizations." Forget about bowling alone: In Toffler's future, we'd all be telecommuting together! (Toffler, it must be said, was only popularizing ideas that had been aired many decades earlier. For example, Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics, had already speculated in his landmark book "The Human Use of Human Beings" about how an architect in Europe might use a fax-like machine to supervise the construction of a building in America.)

The business press eagerly swallowed such stories of emancipation through technology; the San Jose Mercury News enthused in 1983, "Home computers are nurturing working mothers." Back then, it didn't seem unreasonable to expect that the "electronic cottage" might one day allow us, as Karl Marx once put it, "to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner." For Toffler and his followers, humans would use computers to get more work done in less time while bypassing the alienating experience of a 9-to-5 city job.

It would be fair to say that Toffler's dream — let alone Marx's — is still a long way off. In some limited form, of course, telecommuting has taken off quite handsomely. Earlier this year, a poll from Ipsos/Reuters found that about one in five workers around the globe telecommutes frequently — a practice especially common in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. Even there, many telecommuters worry that the lack of face-to-face contact with their bosses will hurt their chances of promotion. (One caveat on telecommuting research: Each study defines it slightly differently. In this case, it refers to "employees who work remotely from their office, communicating by email, phone or online chats, either daily or occasionally.") Pollsters didn't ask, but it seems reasonable to assume that few of those workers think of themselves as living in an "electronic cottage" of any kind. One of the reasons for it is that relatively few firms have fully embraced telecommuting. Sure, many permit employees to spend every second Friday working from home, but they still require some face time in the office.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

Seasonal Content
AP Video
NDN Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.