Client: Eesti Kaugtöö Ühing

Period: 2009

Modern technology has made it possible to do many jobs remotely without having to be physically present at the employer’s premises. It is conceivable that there would be teleworking centers in rural areas to help local people avoid the need for time-consuming commuting and also provide employment for those who do not have it in the area. The study described here addresses the second aspect in particular: the research question is what work would be suitable to do in telework centers and for training people living in the area who are not employed for some reason.

The broader background to the survey is the question of what the potential role of telework centers could be in creating local employment. Teleworkers are often qualified professionals who use the opportunity to work away from their usual office from time to time. Although such work can also take place in a teleworking center, it is not a matter of job creation or permanent relocation to the area. Rather, the focus of this study is on jobs that could be used to create jobs in telework centers by training local staff.

At the same time, the precondition is that the telework center does not directly create a company that offers such a service on the market, but that these are already established companies that could carry out their work through teleworking.

Five jobs were selected to answer the research question (telephone surveys, media monitoring, information services, sales, conference management, transcription of recordings) and interviews were conducted with a number of companies where these jobs are used, asking them to assess the possibilities of teleworking.

The companies assessed the possibility of doing the work in question remotely differently. There were jobs that were generally considered possible in the form of teleworking, as well as those for which office work was considered the only option. At the same time, some companies considered it possible to do some work remotely, while others did not. Thus, the possibility of doing work remotely depends on one hand on the nature of the work and on the other hand on the organization and management practice of the company.

Of the selected jobs, telephone sales emerged as a job that does not place great demands on the employee’s formal qualifications or workplace equipment (but on the employee’s suitability for sales work and language skills). The potential labor demand for sales is higher than for the other jobs observed, and from the point of view of regional employment, the potential of sales work is great.

The research paper was commissioned by Estonian Telework Association, and supported by European Social Fund.