Client: Eesti Kaugtöö Ühing

Period: 2009

The purpose of this project was to describe the practice of using telework and its facets in nine Estonian organisations. Interviews were carried out in several organisation and the results were used to describe the management of applying telework and its positive and negative sides. The research served as input for composing instructional materials for organising telework.

Telework is defined as work done by labour contract outside of employers normal office spaces, being physically distant from the immediate manager but in contact using IT means.
There is not a single telework arrangement which should be preferred – different telework arrangements are suitable for different types of organisations with different organisational cultures.
Some more important observations:
• the choice for many organisations is not whether to allow telework but rather how to organise it in a way that work would be at least of the same quality as it is in the office;
• it is conducive but not an inevitable precondition for telework to have web access to organisation databases and software to support telework;
• it is necessary to think through, discuss with workers and introduce them principles applied to telework which should be formal in larger companies but could be informal in smaller organisations;
• in case of performance based management, workers successfully working in offices can achieve the results also while working from a distance or they will voluntarily give up this form of work if their results worsen;

• it is possible to do telework in cases where results are measured by time used for work and duties are not autonomous;
• it must be kept in mind that needs remain for immediate communication but it is more complicated to arrange it and has to be given extra attention;
• If certain conditions are met then the organisation can achieve cost savings but telework is used for „softer“ purposes. It is probable that the application of telework does not bring remarkable additional costs to the organisation but does not give remarkable savings either.

The research paper was commissioned by Estonian Telework Association, and supported by European Social Fund.