The history of computerization has its origin in the automation of manual processes - searching out the segments that could be put on a computer. The intended result was that the entire job would be done faster and cheaper. Thus, current computer-based information systems tend to make more efficient use of computers than people. The management function, on the other hand, often seems to focus on competitive skills and salesmanship rather than on the ability to attract and hold talented people. But, such impersonal factors that have driven management practices are changing. There has been a complete reversal in the relative costs of one computer versus one employee. The cost of a computer is now a fraction of that of an information worker. Another change to be reckoned with is the emergence of computers as facilitators of human communications (Turoff, 1985).
Since there are other costs besides salary that must be considered in maintaining the office workforce, some corporate managers are looking for alternatives to the traditional locational and temporal aspects of office work. Recognizing that technology for personal computing has progressed in just a few short years from video games to some very sophisticated applications, management may even consider if it would be beneficial to encourage employees to buy personal computers for use at home. One way to do this is a computer purchase program subsidized by the employer.
There are many different views of what "working at home" really is; there is much conjecture as to the success or failure of such programs. This paper attempts to review the current literature associated with the subject of remote work and to provide a framework for further understanding.
The author thanks Dr. Murray Turoff, professor at the Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center of New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey, for his help and guidance in the preparation of this paper. The author also thanks Ms. Carol D'Agostino, Electronic Services Unlimited, New York City; Mr. John L. Johnsen, Integrated Resources Life Companies, Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mr. Ralph S. McCrae, Control Data Corporation, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Mr. Charles W. Schmidt, Lift, Inc., Northbrook, Illinois, for their valuable input.
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Computerized Conferencing & Communications Center and Schuh, Joseph C., "Integrating working at home with information systems management" (1985). Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center Reports. 23.