NUI Galway researchers are looking for volunteers currently working from home, or have in the past, to participate in a project to find solutions toGalway’s traffic problems. Social scientists at NUI Galway have, over the past two years, been looking at various ways and means to encourage people to adopt more sustainable modes of travel. One element of this research focuses on the issue of teleworking, or working from home while communicating with the workplace.
The teleworking project is part of ConsEnSus, a four-year collaborative project between Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway that examines four key areas of household consumption: transport, energy, water and food. The transport work package examines how people travel and how current travel patterns that are expensive, time-consuming and environmentally unsound could be changed.
In the early 2000’s teleworking had been touted as a step towards reducing, or even eliminating, the daily commute to work. The research project investigates why teleworking has failed to resonate with many employers and employees and how companies and workers can make more informed decisions about this technology-supported way of working. It also looks at what types of policies are needed to ensure that the benefits and drawbacks for individuals, wider society and the environment are adequately recognised.
Mike Hynes, an NUI Galway PhD student and member of the ConsEnSus team investigating people’s concerns in relation to telework, said: “Often the focus with working from home is on technical issues and the tasks that need to be accomplished. However, many social aspects that impact on whether people can successfully work from home are overlooked. Issues such as family commitments, neighbour’s expectations and the importance of the social aspects of work are factors that need to be considered by workers and management before a person commits to teleworking. While teleworking can lead to increased productivity and has the potential to greatly improve people’s work/life balance, it also has considerable drawbacks. Issues such as longer working hours, the blurring of boundaries between work and leisure, unrealistic management expectations and experiences of isolation among some teleworkers are all areas of legitimate concern.
Dr Henrike Rau, Lecturer in theSchoolofPolitical Scienceand Sociology at NUI Galway and lead researcher on the transport project, said: “Galway’s traffic problems can sometimes seem intractable but to leave things as they are is not an option. We need sustainable solutions that will benefitGalwaywell into the future. Looking at practical ways and using tools that are readily available is very important. Mobile devices and information and communication technologies are already an integral part of everyday life for many people inGalway. Working from home could potentially benefit employees, employers and the environment by reducing the need to commute to work.”
Those interested in participating in the ConsEnSus project should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.