Telework New Zealand

Telework strategies that benefit employers, employees and society: profiting from flexibility

      Home  •  Telework  •  Transport  •  Corporate solutions  •  Training  •  Telecentres  •  News & Updates  •  About Telework New Zealand    



The 'Myth Attack'

Responding to the 'knee jerk reactions' ...


"Telework means working from home."

WRONG Telework can involve the home, but it can also be based in ‘telecentres’, shared offices and other locations. To concentrate purely on the home environment is to side-track and distort the argument. Even when the home is involved, there is a world of difference between working from home full time and working at home for a day or two every week.

"Telework means expensive technology and sophisticated telecommunications."

WRONG When Mercury (the British telecommunications firm) began promoting telework it said a teleworker needs only a telephone and a pencil and paper. Being a bit more realistic, a teleworker needs the ‘tools of their trade’ and appropriate communication solutions. These will vary on a case-by-case basis.

"Telework is revolutionary and abnormal."

WRONG Before the job requirements of the time made it essential that employees worked in offices and crowded into cities, everyone worked in their homes. Telework is evolutionary, building on changes in both society and work and capitalising on advances in technology and management. When it comes to considering normality, what is normal is rarely very smart but, more importantly, cramming employees into air-conditioned glass and steel mausoleums, when there are sensible alternatives, is a much better demonstration of abnormality.

"Telework means I'm paying for two offices."

WRONG Who is paying for what is something that must be agreed between employers and employees – there are many options. A home office would be much cheaper than a company car. Where implementation costs are involved, they can be planned for, after a pilot study within the company: the productivity increase and lower recruitment and retention costs normally cover any extra expense.

"Telework is an employment issue – it doesn't concern me."

WRONG Although the telework agreement is between employer and employee, telework affects traffic, pollution, local services, employee stress and occupational health, and the costs of office accommodation. It is about families, flexibility, lifestyles, competitiveness and efficiency. There is scarcely a problem or issue in the modern world that is not somehow related to telework. And all it takes is a small change in the way employers and employees think.

"Telework only works where long commutes are involved."

WRONG Telework can deliver many of its benefits without considering commuting at all. After all, companies who endorse telework are rarely concerned with the employee's commute. (The argument that we don't have the same commuting problems as are seen elsewhere, and therefore don't need to consider telework, is wrong and irrelevant. It is wrong because we are already thinking of spending millions to overcome commuting traffic jams, and it is irrelevant because there are many other reasons why telework is a good idea.)

"Telework means I'll never see my staff."

WRONG Telework does not mean employees are out of the office all day, every day. Telework can work even if the employee is out of the office only one day a week, or three hours every day, or if some other arrangement is agreed. The average US teleworker is out of the traditional work place just under two days a week.

"Telework is a women’s or child care issue."

WRONG Telework might help with the work/family balance but that doesn’t mean it’s all about child-care. Even if it was, child-care is not solely a 'women’s issue'. Telework is not solely about child-care. In fact, child-care can pose problems for telework. Further, it doesn’t really matter what fuels the demand for telework – child-care might be one of a number of issues. The demand will be there, for one reason or another. The question is how we are going to respond to it.

"Telework means I won't know my staff are working."

WRONG Teleworkers will continue to produce the work that is expected of them, wherever they are. If managers measure the work produced, they will always know whether the teleworker is working.

"Telework is not right for every company or every employee."

TRUE However, to say that it is not right for some companies doesn't mean that it is not right for your company. This is not an argument against telework: it is an argument for its implementation by the companies it is right for. That it is not right for everyone further underlines the need for ensuring that telework is a voluntary and mutual agreement, based on a clearly understood policy.



Telework is already a popular method of organising work-places, satisfying employee aspirations, and solving community-wide challenges. Unfortunately, whenever it is mentioned, ill-informed, knee-jerk reactions distort the debate, confuse the issues and mean that attempts at serious consideration are still-born. Some of these reactions (with responses) are listed on the left.

Many other questions could be raised and myths promulgated but the questions raised about telework must also be raised about the traditional business. For example, if the prospect of exploitation is a real threat in a telework arrangement, it is normally a real threat in the traditional work-place as well; how you manage teleworkers will depend on how you manage your current staff; the technology teleworkers will need is the same as staff currently need; and so on.

It is unfair to attack telework for problems that already exist in the traditional work place. This is best guarded against by ensuring that every question about telework is answered first for the traditional workplace. For example, the question 'How will I know my staff are working?' is best answered by asking 'How do you know they are working now?'.


Bevis England, Telework New Zealand,  Phone: +64-9-817 8024 or +64-27-494 0700  Skype: bevis.england

Last page update: Tuesday, 28 August 2012.  Please note that copyright on all content is retained by Bevis England.  Information may not be on-sold or used as part of any payable service or activity. Neither can it be transcribed, printed or reproduced in any form, in full or in part, without inclusion of this note. If you would like to be kept in touch, or if you have specific questions, feedback or comments please contact us.