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Lesson Seven -
Telecommuting and Telework Opportunities

Lesson Goals

        Learn Strategies Behind Telework, Telecommuting, and Telecomputing

        Know Strategic Differences Behind Volume, Value, and Human Bandwidth Benefits

Ten Percent of U.S. Workers are Teleworkers, and the Number is Rapidly Growing!

Telework relates to work performed via telecommunications. Telecommuting relates to commuting to work via telecommunications. Telecomputing is a term that also relates to working on a computer via telecommunications. All these terms share the same meaning. Be aware that many businesses have resisted hiring employees for telework for many years because they are unfamiliar with managing employees who are out of sight. Happily, this has begun to change. Telework requires a degree of trust, effective work performance measures, and sometimes, regular meetings face to face to maintain these working relationships. 

Employers are finding the higher quality workers are demanding this type of flexible work arrangement as a condition for employment. Your strategy should be to learn as much as you can about what's actually working regarding telework opportunities, and where you can find the best training, support, and job-finding resources. The web tour offered in this lesson will present an initial exposure to outstanding telework and telecommuting resources.

More and more businesses are realizing that rural teleworkers offer

         less turnover

         a higher work ethic

         fewer missed work days

         and will often work for lower wages than their urban counterparts.

*A new telework online certificate program is now available from Washington State University
http://capps.wsu.edu/telework There are two courses, one for employees and one for employers.

Telework as a Community Economic Development Strategy

While most teleworkers are independent individuals, developing the local capacity for telework can become a community economic strategy. Many communities are beginning to recognize how a community-wide initiative to develop citizens' skills for entrepreneurship and telework can become a valid economic development initiative. Communities can promote their skilled citizens as an available skills pool to attract corporate relocations. How then can both individuals and communities most quickly elevate their skills level and put it on public display?

Training certification programs, such as the advanced version of this course (http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce.htm) can support community-specific listings of electronic portfolio resumes for citizens showcasing their skills, achievements, and willingness to receive additional training. Individuals who have shown the initiative to complete the certification training and post their electronic portfolio resumes will stand a much better chance for employment than those who have not. Having demonstrated your ability to learn online puts you in a likely position for future online training. Communities who are savvy enough to host electronic portfolio resumes online will stand out as innovative and "Ready!"

Telecenters have been created in communities as a workplace for teleworkers offering high speed Internet access in a supportive office environment. La Grande, Oregon, received over fifty telework jobs by finding funding to install fiber optics as part of a partnership with a Portland-based healthcare organization. Using these fiber optic connections, local workers became teleworkers telecommuting to the Portland headquarters.

A Scottish Telework Success Story: Donnie Morrison, a grassroots champion of the Outer Hebrides Islands in Northern Scotland, saw dwindling populations in his regional communities. Young people were moving away, schools were losing students, the local economies were dying. Donnie was successful bringing high speed Internet to his communities and high-paying telework jobs, and today the communities are once again healthy and growing. http://www.work-global.com By Donnie's own report, his most successful innovation and key to his success was his creation of a community skills registry database.

Internet Access Speeds and Options

High speed Internet access is always preferred for teleworkers. Ask around locally for available broadband wired and wireless options. However, there is still a great deal you can do very effectively by using local dial-up Internet services.

The smartest use of dial-up Internet connections may not be obvious. Online collaboration can be very effective regardless of Internet speeds, but requires written communication and relationship-building skills. This type of  "human bandwidth" relates to true collaborative capacity. The speed or volume of data transport should not be considered to be equal to the value of the information sent. You might find it useful to think in terms of  "value bandwidth" instead of just "volume bandwidth." Maintaining an Ecommerce web site effectively may not require more than a basic dial-up Internet connection. Watch for examples of the many smart ways to leverage the highest benefit, from even the slowest Internet connections.

One example: Offline browsers are tools that capture any number of web pages for offline viewing  in a manner similar to high speed Internet. Offline browsers can be used automatically to capture new information on any number of web pages during the night. A used car dealer could use an offline browser to have all the competition's web pages automatically ready for instant viewing every morning. The newer versions of the Internet Explorer browser have this feature built in. A $45 offline browser called Webwhacker can be downloaded for a 15-day free trial from http://bluesquirrel.com/ .

Satellite and Wireless Options

While waiting for fiber optics to reach your front door, there are some immediate options to consider, even if they might be short term. A broadband satellite can bring two-way Internet to any location in the lower 48 states for as little as $70/month for a single PC. Other satellite and wireless options can serve multiple PCs and businesses. Wireless connections can be far faster than copper phone lines, and the newer technologies are creating exciting economic opportunities for rural citizens. Articles and resources for satellite and wireless solutions are at http://lone-eagles.com/wireless.htm

Hands-on Activities

Canadian Teleworkers Association
Read the report on the current U.S. telework scene which includes the fact that one out of ten jobs today is conducted via telework.

The Mining Company Telecommuting Resources
Note the related sites on the left-hand menu and notice you're invited to ask questions of a real person.

AT&T's Telework Webguide; real work, real people, real technology
See their Telework Webguide and link (on the left) for How to Get a Teleworking Job and Getting Started.

Federal Telework Resources
More and more federal telework jobs are becoming available.
Review their Telework Manual.

International Telework Web Ring
See the International telework web ring listing for what another countries are doing with telework.

To Complete This Lesson

1.      Send an email to your instructor stating what strategies you're planning to adopt

2.      Send an email to the listserv (send to isu-ecommerce@mm.isu.edu ) with the web address for at least one interesting telework success story or resource.

Optional Skill-Builders

1.      Learn about Mentoring as an Essential Internet Skill

      Level Four - Learning-to-Earn for Sustainable Communities
(The Power of Building Online Communities)

2.      Additional Links Worth a Look

      The Telework Connection
Many resources well worth a review.

      Telecommuting Jobs Listing and How-To-Telecommute Handbook
Interesting focus for a home business to teach others telecommuting skills.

      Rural Telework Tools and Telework Resources
Extensive resources from the University of Washington. Includes a guidebook, training manuals, and links to similar resources.

      Gil Gordon's Resources
See what master teleworker Gil Gordon has gathered together for you. Visit his homepage, too http://www.gilgordon.com/

Assist U - Learn to be a virtual assistant
Training offered by an entrepreneur for becoming a virtual assistance.

http://www.telecommute-now.org/ Home of the Essential Home Job Search Guide at

      International Telework Resources

      European Telework Online
Look over the first page.

      Jala International, Inc.
Look over who they say they are.

Telework and Telecommuting Resources
http://www.jala.com/twlinks.php Look over their hotlist of resources.

      International Telework Association and Council