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Telecommuting in Third World Countries – Why It's Not Successful

written by: •edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 4/5/2010

Telecommuting in third world countries could save real money and increase profits for both employers and employees. However, third world businesses don’t seem to accept the concept of telecommuting. Here, I offer a critique of why telecommuting fails in third world countries.

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    Why Telecommuting Fails in Third World Countries

    Benefits of Telecommuting Before I proceed to discuss telecommuting in third world countries and why businesses in the third world fail to make use of the latest technologies, let us take a quick look at telecommuting. With the influx of Internet based technologies, especially virtual private networks or VPNs, it's possible for employees to login into their office from the comfort of their home or other remote area. Technology-developed countries have already invested into the concept of utilizing Virtual Private Networks so employees can work from anywhere, however, third world countries seem to deny the benefits of telecommuting. Is it that they do not know anything about telecommuting? To find the answer, let's discuss how businesses work in the third world countries.

    Third world countries do take IT seriously and consider the Internet an integral part of business, despite the size of the organization. These organizations have good infrastructures, LANs, Intranets, and even VPNs. However, when it comes to telecommuting, they prefer employees work inside the office environment. One of the benefits of telecommuting is the ability to save both time and money when traveling to the workplace. In third world countries, some businesses even offer transportation services to ensure employees reach the office on time.

    There are two factors I feel prevent telecommuting in third world countries:

    • Employer Trust - Most third world employers lack faith that employees will work as hard or as efficiently if they engage in telecommuting.
    • Attitudes - Often working at home is considered a stigma of sorts in these societies. The general attitude is in order to be a hard worker, you should be making the trek to the office.

    These two factors do not mean that companies don't outsource work. They do outsource services such as catering, cleaning, and other simple chores, however, these services are not considered telecommuting IT jobs. In third world countries even though professional services such as accounting, project management or auditing could easily offer telecommuting services, on-site visits are still consider the best choice. The idea saving time on travel and the ability to intertwine work and a lifestyle balance has not caught on in the third world.

    Outsourcing and telecommuting are two very different things in the third world. Outsourcing services are accepted because the company orders and pays for these outside services. Telecommuting, on the other hand, means employees are not at the work site or under in-person supervision from upper management.

    Lack of faith and trust in employees are the major reasons why third world countries disapprove of telecommuting. Even if an effective telecommuting system is in place, all businesses still prefer their staff on company premises rather than working remotely to ensure they are really working.

    Additionally, the social stigma telecommuting brings is "If you are working from home, you are not working." Often, working from home is not considered "real work." Third world societies feel telecommuting is not effective or productive to the workforce. I have personally experienced heavy resistance from every side when I opted to work from home for a foreign-based company. My home based business didn't garnish enough profits initially, so I too was forced to spend money on a traditional office space. Though home based businesses are not always the same as telecommuting, the mental rigidity of people reflects why telecommuting in third world countries is not a success.

    Hopefully, with more education on how telecommuting can benefit businesses, major organizations will better accept, understand, and explore the telecommuting world. Only then will others follow the lead, thereby removing the social stigma of telecommuting in third world countries.