CASE STUDIES ON TELEWORK IN ESTONIAN COMPANIES

Client: Eesti Kaugtööühing

Period: 2007

Modern technology has made it possible to perform tasks that in the past demanded presence in the office, to be comfortably performed from distance. It is fully conceivable that telework centres located in rural areas curb the time spent on long trips to the office and create jobs for those, who can only work in local area. This research project deals mainly with the latter. The main research question was, what kind of services are suitable for telework centre with a focus on jobs that can be taught to local labour force that is currently unemployed.

We were interested in the potential role of telework centres from the perspective of job creation. It is quite common that high-skilled specialists use telework as means to change the work environment. While this kind of escapism can benefit from the existence of telework centres, and enhances the quality of life of a particular person, it does not bring about an increase in the overall number of jobs or permanent increase in the settlement in areas where the telework centres locate. The focus of this research is on services that can be used for creating jobs in telework centres via training local people. At the same time, there is a precondition that telework centre is not transformed into conventional enterprise providing a particular service (e.g. telephone surveys), but remains to be a location where different companies can house their worker willing to work from a distance.

Altogether five jobs were selected for this project (telephone surveys, information services, sales activities, conference organization and transcription services). Companies that have used these services were interviewed in order to get their reflection on the possibility to conduct these services from telework centres.

The results were mixed. Several companies considered some of the jobs listed above as performable also via telework while others were classified as strictly office jobs. However, different companies had different opinions and it seems, that it is not only the nature of the job that affects the possibility to perform it as telework, but also the management style and work organization in the company.

From the above-mentioned jobs conducting telephone surveys seemed as most promising – the formal qualification of the workers is modest and there is no need for large investments into work environment (while personality of the worker and language skills, of course, must be suitable for the job). Also, there is much demand for sales activities (more than for other activities analysed in this study) which means that from the job creational point of view, the sales activities have large potential.