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Telecommuting in the Australian higher education sector: Modeling choice
conference contributionposted on 20.03.2022, 22:34 by James CallanJames Callan
The paper signals emerging empirical research into employee choice with respect to telecommuting or telework. As a corollary to prevailing management, socia-cultural, and economic themes a position is taken with respect to employee preferences in light of changing organisational or institutional circumstances. The attempt to model employee preference judgments, or choice sets, in respect to organisational attributes is amended to lead towards a determination of the relative importance of telecommuting's stated benefits as a specific form of work scheduling, or work design. Existing research into the application of Integrated Communication Teclnologies (ICTs) to enable work at a distance continues to be lauded in the popular press. Nevertheless, a view has been expressed that "methodological weaknesses", and problems with the control of "extraneous variables" has "limited the empirical research" to date (McCloskey & /gbaria /998). There is little doubt that the incidence of telecommuting (telework) across private and public sector organisations is increasing in those countries associated with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). What follows is an insight into exploratory work with choice modeling as an approach to understanding individual preference towards telecommuting or telework practices amongst a particular category of employees - university academics. A key objective is to ascertain the extent to which elected choice to telecommute is motivated by not only a response to reconcile competing demands associated with time at work, but also by the desire to maintain alignment of work output with changes in operational imperatives or organisational strategy. As a particular category of employees, academics exhibit a need to "find new ways of balancing traditional work patterns" (Mdnilis 1999, p. 63) in the face of sector wide change in higher education. It is fully anticipated that quantitative assessment of respondent choice, which incorporates examining differences between "salient" and "important" organisational attributes will uncover new ground in the quest to understand, in behavioural terms, those factors which conjoin to limit the uptake of formally constituted telecommuting programs. New directions in research are an important adjunct to developing knowledge and organisational policy into how technology can be more effectively appropriated to enhance work design and work flexibility. This is nowhere more urgently felt as in the higher education sector in Australia and in other OECD countries.