The Dark Side of Telecommuting - Is a Tipping Point Approaching?

23 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2011 Last revised: 10 Jan 2012

See all articles by Stephen Ruth

Stephen Ruth

George Mason University - School of Public Policy

Date Written: July 7, 2011


This article proposes a cautionary view of the potential challenges that would arise if telecommuting implementation increases significantly beyond its present, popular, highly successful baseline. Current telecommuters are the cream of the crop—mature, carefully trained, and mostly from significantly higher-than-average income and education levels. But as more persons are added in telecommuting plans because of workplace pressures, labor unions, federal and state legislation and other factors, there may be serious problems. Several of the challenges associated with greater telecommuting participation are described. They are: difficulties in assessing telecommuting demographics, problems in the evaluation of productivity, the dilemma of determining verifiable costs and benefits, the drawbacks and distractions in home-siting of telework as the levels of education and experience decrease, supervisor-subordinate problems, the imbalance of broadband service, especially for poorer workers, and the reluctance of some organizations to take advantage regional telework centers.

Keywords: telework, telecommuting, distracters, telecenters, digital divide

Suggested Citation

Ruth, Stephen, The Dark Side of Telecommuting - Is a Tipping Point Approaching? (July 7, 2011). GMU School of Public Policy Research Paper No. 2012-02, Available at SSRN: or

Stephen Ruth (Contact Author)

George Mason University - School of Public Policy ( email )

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