While the number of people teleworking in the UK has trebled since 1992 and is favoured by 80 per cent of staff, the design industry remains suspicious.
The Corporate Telework Survey, conducted by Small World Connections, found that three quarters of respondents employ staff specifically to work at home, and 85 per cent will use teleworkers in the future.
Teleworking means reduced stress, reduced absenteeism and greater productivity, with a saving of 50 000 on office costs, according to the survey. But 60 per cent of managers fear staff isolation, lack of feedback and loss of control. “Very few designers adopt teleworking principles”, says Stephen Jupp of research group The Home Office Partnership.
Design Business Association chairman Colin Porter says this is because “design is like praying. A collective force in the same workplace gives an idea depth.”
Chartered Society of Designers president Adrianne LeMan is also sceptical: “Teleworking is difficult for designers because being in an environment where they receive input from others is important.”
Unlike other sectors, designers have also been slow to embrace the virtual desk space idea, says Fishburn Hedges creative director Michael Slater. However, with “ISDN on the doorstep and improvements in video conferencing systems”, he predicts that “incremental growth”, will occur.
The Telework World ’97 conference takes place from 5-7 November at the Britannia International Hotel in London’s Docklands.