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[Opinion] Working Remotely

Posted April. 29, 2005 23:29,   


Commuters on hot and humid subways are tired. They dream of leaving their offices, but like factory worker Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, it is hard to escape from the routine of everyday life.

Dreams come true. With the rapid advance in information and communications technologies, a new age where people can work out of their offices has arrived: remote working. Using personal computers and cellular phones, people can work out of their offices part-time. They can work at home, at remote offices, or on the road. Thanks to declining communications costs and prices of IT gadgets, remote working is growing. Alvin Toffler once presented the “electronic cottage” as the way of work in the future. When a ubiquitous world arrives in full swing, home-based telecommuting is likely to become universal.

In the U.S. and Europe, the number of remote workers, including not only company workers but also public servants, is increasing. That governments were keen on remote working to curb pollution, lower unemployment rates, and promote an information-oriented society resulted in the spread of remote working. Remote workers are highly satisfied with their work. They can save time and costs and have less stress. Society can provide more jobs to the physically challenged, the elderly, and women. Of course, there is a downside to telecommuting. Full-time jobs may be turned into temporary ones, and telecommuters may be discriminated against by personnel management and in performance appraisals.

The Public Procurement Service decided to launch a remote working system that would enable every employee to work anywhere and anytime starting next month. The Korean Intellectual Property Office has already started a telecommuting system since March. Reportedly, 19 public servants work four days a week at home. An official of Daejeon city government recovered from a disease after working at home. In Korea, over 8,000 employees are taking advantage of the distant working system. Many wonder how many employees will become telecommuters when the plan to relocate the administrative capital to the Yeongi-Gongju region in Chungcheong Province materializes.

Im Gyu-jin, Editorial writer, mhjh22@donga.com