UWE researchers investigate teleworking

Issue date: 10 March 2005

Issue date: 10/03/05

UWE researchers investigate whether teleworking might hold the key to reducing peak traffic chaos

Professor Glenn Lyons and Dr Tim Jones from the Centre for Transport & Society (CTS) at the University of the West of England, Bristol, have embarked on a major five-year study to investigate the impacts of homeworking on the commute journey.

The project, ‘Teleworking – trends in and causes of location independent working’, forms part of EPSRC’s FUTURES programme.

The significance of teleworking to FUTURES is in its potential to exploit new technology, improve people’s quality of life and to reduce the traffic burden placed upon the urban environment, particularly during peak periods. Teleworking however is not a new phenomenon, with a substantial base of existing literature that has sought to address its consequences for (urban) travel. Why therefore is another study justified?

Professor Glenn Lyons says, “The majority of research into teleworking has pre-dated the mainstreaming of Internet use into society. Email has transformed the communications culture of the workplace. We are witnessing the make-up of employment changing and pressures of work are increasing. It seems, as a result perhaps of such social and technological change, that teleworking is now coming of age. It is important that transport policy is able to account for the impacts of teleworking on urban traffic. In order for it to do so there is first a need for empirical evidence concerning the nature and scale of such impacts.”

Past studies of teleworking have concentrated on binary and to some degree absolute, states in terms of working practices. Individuals are either identified as a teleworker or not a teleworker and the focus has concentrated on why individual’s are in one state or another, and the changes that occur when individuals move between states. In practice however, teleworking and in particular working from home is not as absolute.

Dr Tim Jones says “While working from home can result in the removal of the commute journey, it might instead displace the commute journey. Individuals are no longer spatio-temporally constrained, and are able to work at home for parts of the day and temporally displace their commute”.

The centre piece of the project, a four-year longitudinal survey of c1000 adults in paid employment, begins in March 2005. The survey, which is investigating travel behaviour, working patterns and attitudes towards aspects of working from home, will gather national data on the incidence of working from home and specifically ICT-dependent homeworking. The CTS team are working alongside the Telework Association, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Hampshire County Council.

For further details, please contact Tim Jones, Centre for Transport & Society, e-mail: Timothy4.Jones@uwe.ac.uk, http://www.transport.uwe.ac.uk/research/projects/futures-teleworking.htm


Editor’s notes

The FUTURES programme (Future Urban Technologies Undertaking Research to Enhance Sustainability) is one of four transport research consortia within the EPSRC’s ‘Towards a Sustainable Urban Environment Programme’. The aim of FUTURES is to investigate and promote the role of new technologies in moving towards sustainable urban mobility.

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