When “home working” was still called teleworking, we dealt with the question of virtual labour networks. In 2000, the results of a research project created for the Wüstenrot Foundation were published, which was carried out under the direction of Kurt Vogler-Ludwig in collaboration with Nicola Düll and several researchers of the Ifo Institute, Munich. At that time, the technical prerequisites for the use of telework were in place, but the "post-industrial" economy was not yet there: only about 2½% of the employees worked at telework places, but 40% of the employees expressed interest in this form of work.
The biggest obstacle lay in the organization of companies and in management, which feared the loss of control over its employees (“Teleworking in Post-Industrial Society”, page 217 f.). It should take another two decades before the global spread of the corona virus frightened the managers even more: Within a few months, due to concerns about the more rapid spread of the disease, a good part of the jobs were moved to the home office, video conferences replaced business trips, schools and universities switched to online lessons. After many years of standstill and "keep it up", the world of virtual working is suddenly a reality.
This shows the great strength that is required to enlighten management and to make a breakthrough for a new type of work organization. Even then, the advantages of teleworking were already on the table: it was possible to set up teleworking stations at low cost, telecommunication costs was already cheap at that time and its prices were falling continuously, but above all, the productivity of teleworking workers was higher than at conventional office workplaces (page 219). But: teleworking required a different management style. The problem was not the technical equipment, but the dedication of employees as self-reliant "knowledge workers". Management had to move from time-based to output-oriented control, from rigid production and service processes to flexible, self-organizing cooperation. Management by objectives was a new buzzword. The obstacle was the reorganization of the value chain rather than technical standards (page 84).
The study deals with a wide range of questions about telework:
- It recognizes the dangers for the sovereignty over time of the employees in a decentralized just-in-time production, the isolation, the vanishing of the employment relationship and the weakening of an effective employee representation (page 110 ff.).
- It sees long-term changes for the spatial patterns of residential estate and production structures. However, relocations to inexpensive rural areas are very slow because the existing buildings are highly flexible and the spatial immobility of workers and companies is classified as high (page 136 ff.).
- Ambivalent effects are expected for traffic and the environment. On the one hand, teleworking relieves both traffic and the environment. On the other hand, there are opposing effects due to a change in leisure behavior and a larger volume of traffic in a decentralized work and production structure. (Page 177 ff.).
The study was published in 2000 under the title "Teleworking in post-industrial society" by W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart.
Summary (in German): Nicola Düll, Kurt Vogler-Ludwig (2001): Telearbeit in der post-industriellen Gesellschaft. Discussion Paper.
Further historical texts: