Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Dr Peter Standen

Abstract

Global competition, societal changes and other environmental influences have forced organisations to review existing work arrangements. Flexible work practices have been identified as one mechanism for the alignment of organisational and individual goals. Homebased work or telecommuting, which involves working at a remote site, is an example of such a practice. Working from home can have advantages for the organisation in terms of savings in infrastructure costs. Individual employees would also potentially benefit through reduced costs associated with work (e.g. travel and food), and the ability to better manage their work and home life. However, since 25 years ago when home based work was starting to be recognised as a viable work option, projections for homebased work have not come to fruition. Much of this is attributed to conservative organisational cultures, specifically managerial resistance towards work at home. The relatively small amount of research on homebased work has to some extent perpetuated management uncertainty in Australia and overseas. This study aimed to examine the attributes needed by homebased workers, that is, the personal and job characteristics that could make the arrangement successful in both individual and organisational terms. This knowledge would lessen management uncertainty in relation to the types of jobs and employees who could be deemed suitable to engage in this new work practice. The study was exploratory in nature. Information was collected from human resource managers at 472 organisations in Australia. This was followed by semi-structured interviews with 21 homeworkers. Based on the literature, and information collected through the first two phases of the study, a questionnaire was designed to collect more specific information from homeworkers, and clarify points of interest. All up 42 responses were received from this phase of the study. This study was cross-sectional in nature, however, the three-phased approach allowed for cross validation of results, and was therefore very valuable in detecting trends. Findings from this research indicated that personal characteristics, such as demography, competencies, and the psychological profile of the homeworker, do contribute to the benefits gained from the program. Job characteristics, in terms of occupation and the design of the job to be performed at home, also contribute to success. Although, the main focus of this study was on personal and job characteristics deemed suitable for homebased work, it was also found that the home and work environment of the homeworker are major success factors. It can therefore be surmised that benefits from a homebased work program can be enhanced by selecting for appropriate employees and jobs, and devising policies that account for the home and work environment of the homeworker.

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