This chapter begins by explaining how telework has evolved over its 40 years of existence since its origins in the US state of California in the mid-1970s. This evolution has occurred in three distinct but overlapping stages: first, the home office, then the mobile office, and most recently, the virtual office. The chapter then presents a conceptual framework of telework based on this evolutionary process, which serves as the conceptual ‘backbone’ of the volume and helps us to categorize and compare the many forms of telework that exist. Next, it reviews the international literature regarding the direct and indirect effects of various forms of telework on a range of outcomes, primarily working time (hours and schedules), work–life balance, occupational safety and health, and individual and organizational performance. Following this review, the chapter provides a detailed description of the methodology and the main data sources that will be used in the country-specific analyses presented in the remainder of this volume.
Jon C. Messenger
This chapter summarizes the main conclusions and recommendations for policy and practice arising from the country-specific analyses presented in the volume. It begins by reviewing the main drivers promoting the expansion of telework in the countries analysed in this volume, as well as the barriers that have restrained this expansion. The chapter continues with broad comparisons of the incidence and intensity (or extent) of telework in the different countries, followed by an extensive synthesis of the key findings for the following dimensions of the world of work: working time, work–life balance, occupational health and well-being, and individual and organizational performance. Policy responses relating to telework at the national, sectoral and company levels are reviewed and discussed. The chapter then provides recommendations for both national telework policy and company/organizational and individual practices that can promote the expansion of telework and can aid implementation in ways that maximize its advantages and limit its potential disadvantages. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the global outlook for the future of telework.