Impact of Telecommuting on the Financial and Social Life of Telecommuters in Pakistan

AuthorANJUM ZIA and HADIA BILAL

Abstract. The present research aims to explore the current usage, possible benefits and impact of telecommuting along with the hindrances in development of this phenomenon in Pakistan. Financial and social impact of telecommuting was also determined on telecommuters. This study utilizes structured interview technique. By using judgmental sampling method, data was collected from specified sample of 54 telecommuters from Lahore. It was interesting to know that people who were involved in telecommuting reported the unfamiliarity with the term. Based on findings, the study concludes that telecommuting is a latest and valuable business tool that provides comfortable working environment along with the financial benefits to the users but due to lack of awareness, it is not being used extensively in the country. Respondents also gave recommendations including training of employees, making them computer literate, develop infrastructure and create awareness about telecommuting to make its future promising.

Keywords: Telecommuting, Technology Innovation, Social and Economic Impact, Pakistan

  1. INTRODUCTION

    Durkhiem (1984) in his famous research work “The Division of Labor in the Society” described the transition process of primitive societies to the industrial and economically advanced societies. Durkhiem suggested, “progress of a society generally starts with a simplest level and then develop into a more complex stage”. The author emphasized “the main conversion of the ancient social order into an advanced and industrial society could otherwise bring disorder or crises”. Therefore, modern sociology developed in response to the crisis linked with modernity, for instance, industrialization and procedure of rationalization. But modern day technology is striving actually to make life simpler though technological advancements have revolutionized each and every field of society. This is another prospect of emerging technologies that it has even made possible today to work everywhere and in any environment.

    Telecommuting is such a technology which has transformed the concept of physical presence of employee at office to what he/she can deliver from home. Telecommunication technologies facilitate an individual to work outside the conventional workplace or office, for example, from remote location, generally from home, or in a mobile situation, etc. Telecommuting is described “telework, electronic homework, the electronic cottage, networking, distance work, location independent work and flexi place” (Huws, Morrison, and Saveri, 1991).

    Brown (2010) expressed that “Telecommuting is a significant workplace innovation that allows an increasing portion of the work force to work from home or work at a location remote from the central workplace at least one-day a week”. Since long, the developed economies have employed telecommuting effectively because they are technologically strengthened. Pakistan is so far a less developed and technologically poor country. Internet coverage in Pakistan is limited. Even most of the urban areas of Pakistan are still without internet. There is no doubt that teledensity in Pakistan has improved but still a far away from being sufficient. Exceptions aside, Pakistan has not embraced by information technology (IT) yet consequently nothing can be found physically or in the form of revenue. Pakistani industry of information technology is at its initial stage and what it has been accomplished until now is inadequate.

    Furthermore, “latest and existing technology is not used properly yet due to the lack of standard and practiced culture of the business that requires proper planning based on strategic thinking. These are the inimical factors for the long-term and in time investment of resources required for the field of IT to develop and deliver” (Shirazi, 2011).

    Earlier research studies (Belanger, 1999; Pinsonneault and Boisvert, 2001; Potter, 2003) depicted “main reason of the expansion of this notion is found in its professed advantages for both the telecommuters and their employer including job satisfaction, enhanced productivity, increased flexibility, belonging and loyalty to the organization, saving of the office space, better employee’s morale, retention and attraction”. Present study is concerned with exploring the usage of telecommuting in Pakistan where there are many hindrances in its practice particularly limited technological advancements along with the acceptability by the traditional society are among the most common problems. Moreover, the research investigates the impact of telecommuting on the economic and social life of telecommuters along with the future of this profession in Pakistan. Thus, objective of the study are three folds:

    • To explore the usage of telecommuting in Pakistan;

    • An attempt to comprehend the impact of telecommuting on social and financial aspects of its users’ life;

    • To assess the prospects of telecommuting in the country.

  2. CONCEPTUAL BACKGROUND

    Numerous research studies have been carried out in the sector of telecommuting and questioned many issues in developed countries, for instance, United Kingdom and United States from where this concept emerged. Dudman (2001) reported that between 1997 and 1999, three hundred thousand citizens were engaged in telecommuting (work from home) in the UK however in 2000 there were nearly 1.5 million people and several multinational companies embraced with telecommuting including Young, Ernst and IBM etc. Current study has its own significance as it explores the contemporary and potential prospects of telecommuting in the country. It was also imperative to identify the measures which can be useful to raise the usage of telecommuting in Pakistan and can approach the developed nations’ economy levels.

    Moreover, it would be supportive for entrepreneurs and market runners in getting benefits through telecommuting, later, are helpful to improve the Pakistan’s economy.

    Dieringer Research Group (2006) wrapped up in their research study that telecommuting has become popular among several United States employees as they have realized and enjoying the cost benefits which a telecommuting program offers. The study established that “Telecommunication industry in America has made great progress and labor force in telecommuting has been increased to 20 per cent, i.e. increased from 26.1 million in 2005 to 28.7 million in 2006”. The study concludes that “the access to wireless and broadband connections has made telecommuting low cost and more productive to work remotely. Thus number of employees is increasing who are using alternative work...

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