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Making telework work: leading people and leveraging technology for competitive advantage

Evan H. Offstein (Assistant Professor of Business Management at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland, USA)
Jason M. Morwick (Program Manager at CISCO Systems, Ocoee, Florida, USA)
Larry Koskinen (Associate Inspector‐General for Mission Support, Treasury Inspector‐General for US Tax Admin., Washington DC, USA)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 23 February 2010

Abstract

Purpose

Teleworking is often indicated as a flexible working arrangement. This paper seeks to highlight that flexibility is just one positive characteristic of telework and to demonstrate both the strategic and practical implications of adopting telework. In addition, it aims to highlight best practices and specific activities that enable telework to achieve its full potential.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on a series of interviews, personal experiences and observations encompassing a wide range of organizations to include profit and non‐profit/government across a variety of industry sectors that include retail, high technology, manufacturing and hospitality and service, the paper provides an overview on how to make telework work effectively and smoothly within profit and non‐profit organizations. Moreover, it confronts the leadership literature to examine how leadership – not technology – is the critical variable in telework success.

Findings

In the most successful cases of telework, organizations and individuals were seen to fuse technology and leadership to do work without the limitations of geography, time or physical presence. Thus, while many may embrace telecommuting or telework almost exclusively for its flexibility benefits, the most successful organizations and individuals welcomed telework, first and foremost, as a source of competitive advantage.

Originality/value

The paper departs from traditional management thought on two fronts. First, it is contended that the essence behind successful telework arrangements is more of a function of leadership than of technology. Second, and related to the previous point, the paper suggests that a creative, innovative and progressive leadership mentality is necessary in the design and implementation of telework programmes. As a result, many managers must be willing to depart from long‐held and conventional notions of leadership.

Keywords

Citation

Offstein, E.H., Morwick, J.M. and Koskinen, L. (2010), "Making telework work: leading people and leveraging technology for competitive advantage", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 32-37. https://doi.org/10.1108/14754391011022244

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited