The spread of telecommuting is sure to have far-reaching effects on society. By itself, telecommuting refers to office workers spending much of their time working from home and using electronic technologies to communicate with their employers. The broader implications of telecommuting, however, may involve changes to corporate structure, workers' lifestyles and even urban planning.
The most obvious changes may be apparent in the `normal' offices of companies, governments and other organisations. If even half the working week is spent telecommuting from home, then we would initially expect many empty desks in the office. As offices grow smaller, workers coming in for the day would be expected to share desks with their absent colleagues. This, in turn, may affect the social atmosphere of an organisation, however, as less social contact with one's colleagues could harm morale and loyalty.
For the individual office worker, telecommuting would mean spending more time at home. For a parent with young children, this may be a blessing. Moreover, many telecommuters would be able to work the hours they wished: having a nap in the afternoon, for example, but working some hours in the evening. One substantial benefit for all telecommuting workers is that there will be no need to travel to work, allowing more free time.
The structure of urban life is also likely to be affected by telecommuting. We would expect to see fewer cars on the road during peak hours and, eventually, a smaller concentration of offices in cities' central business districts. In short, people will have less reason to travel to city centres from outlying areas. As more people work and live in the same location, shops and cultural events will likely relocate themselves out of the city centre.
In summary, telecommuting will serve not only to change the way we work but also the way we live.