Ergonomics, Telecommuting, Virtual Teams & Job Design: Technology Effects on Careers

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  • 0:03 Telecommuting
  • 1:58 Job Design
  • 3:32 Virtual Teams
  • 4:39 Ergonomics
  • 6:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jill Heaney

Jill has taught college-level business and IT. She has a Doctorate in Business Administration, an M.S. in Information Technology & Leadership, and a BS in Professional Studies, Communications and Computer Technology.

This lesson explores the impact of information technology on job design, teamwork, health and safety and how we commute to work. Specific topics discussed are telecommuting, virtual teams, job design and ergonomics.


Amber rolls out of bed, makes a cup of coffee and heads to her home office. She has a short commute to work: just a walk across the hall. She doesn't even have to shower, dress or do her hair because none of her coworkers will see her. These are some of the perks of telecommuting.

Telecommuting is a term used to describe working from home or while traveling using a computer linked to your place of employment. An increasing number of professionals work remotely from home or the road just like Amber. Telecommuting has a number of potential advantages including less stress; time saved by eliminating the commute, money saved by eliminating gas, clothes and parking, employment opportunities for disabled people or those that can't be out of the home and the ability to control and manage one's schedule. Amber particularly enjoys the flexible schedule telecommuting provides. She can attend her children's school functions during the day, go to the doctor's office or meet up with friends for a long lunch. The downside to telecommuting is that at times Amber feels a bit isolated due to the lack of social interaction. She misses the chit-chat she would engage in with coworkers at the office.

Telecommuting has many advantages such as flexibility and cost savings.
Telecommuting Picture

The benefits of telecommuting affect more than just the employee. The organization will experience benefits from telecommuting as well. They may notice increased productivity, reduced real estate costs, greater staffing flexibility, retention of skilled employees and lower labor and absenteeism. The disadvantages to the employer are difficulty supervising work, data security problems, training costs and the cost of purchasing and maintaining telecommuters' equipment.

Job Design

Information technology has changed and reshaped job design in a number of ways. Telecommuting is one way that jobs have been redesigned, but there are many other changes that benefit both the employee and the organization. Job design is the process of defining how work will be performed and what tasks will be required to fulfill the position. Job redesign is a similar process that involves changing an existing job design. The purpose of job design is to increase employee motivation and productivity. Job redesign has eliminated monotonous tasks that office and factory workers had performed. This enables people to concentrate on more complex and interesting assignments that require greater skill levels. It has also increased productivity of managers and expanded their span of control to allow them to supervise a greater number of employees. This has created flatter organizations with fewer levels of management. It increases employee productivity, restructures job content to engage employees and changes the skill requirement in many jobs.

The new system implemented by Amber's employer allows for virtual employees working on a team to collaborate more easily and effectively. This greatly increases productivity and lessens the time required to set up meetings and organize the group. Amber can spend her time on more important tasks.

Virtual Teams

Collaboration is a critical part of business. Amber frequently works as part of a virtual team for the collaboration of various projects. A virtual team is a group of individuals working together from dispersed geographic locations whose members telecommute. Virtual teams are supported by various hardware and software technologies that enable effective communication for the team to communicate and collaborate.

Technology has increased the use of virtual work teams.
Virtual Teams Technology

There are a number of benefits to working as part of a virtual team. Amber enjoys being able to work from anywhere at any time. She can even work while lying on a lounge chair beside her pool. She can work with others in various locations who have unique talents and skills. Best of all, there is no commute time. Virtual teams are a benefit to the organization for several reasons. They cut travel, relocation and real estate costs. Virtual teams also enable the organization to seek assistance from experts in the field or talented individuals with knowledge that is hard to come by.

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