What's smart about working from home? Telework and the sustainable consumption of distance in Ireland
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Hynes, M. (2013) 'What s Smart About Working from Home? Telework and the sustainable consumption of distance in Ireland' In: Sylvie Thouësny, Cathy Fowley, Claire English(Eds.). Internet Research, Theory, and Practice: Perspectives from Ireland. Dublin : Research-Publishing.
The use of technology is pervasive in contemporary society transforming lives and work environments. The internet and the availability of portable personal communication devices have resulted in immense societal change. Frequently held views of the relationship between individuals and technology are dominated by a production-centric perspective, with limited attention being paid to the social and environmental impacts of consumption. Elevated by improvements in information communication technologies and infrastructure, telework was heralded as an innovative way of working with the added potential of reducing travel demand. But early optimistic expectations failed to materialise, largely due to a poor understanding of social, political, and personal issues involved. This paper presents an examination of telework in Ireland and argues for a more holistic approach to investigation. Before telework can be accepted as a potential benefit to the sustainable consumption of distance the environmental consequences of changes in working practices must be understood. Researching an organisation with a telework culture this paper investigated the environmental impacts of individuals working from home. Teleworkers reported no increase in water and other goods consumption, and no additional travel needs. However, they felt they increased their domestic food and energy consumption, and produced more waste working from home.