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Telework Isn’t Working: A Policy Review


  • Michael Hynes

    (National University of Ireland, Galway)


Towards the latter end of the last decade there was growing recognition that Ireland’s transport and mobility patterns were unsustainable in the context of their economic, social and environmental impacts and consequences. The State had been spatially transformed during the “Celtic Tiger” era with (sub)urban sprawl, fuelled by Ireland’s chronic car dependency, a feature of everyday life. Commuting to and from work increased noise and air pollution, traffic congestion and contributed considerably to carbon emissions augmenting globally negative anthropogenic climate change. In an apparent shift in transport policy, the government published Smarter Travel in 2007 where more environmentally sustainable modes of transport, such as walking, cycling and public transport, were encouraged to combat the country’s unusually high levels of car dependency. An essential feature of the Smarter Travel initiative was telework (e-Working). Working from home has the potential to reduce, or eliminate, the daily commute to and from work and was regarded by policymakers as a crucial element in reducing Ireland’s unsustainable patterns of mobility whilst continuing the pursuit of unhindered economic growth. However, telework remains marginalised in business terms and lacks the regulation and guidelines essential to legitimise it for employers and employees that wish to work from home. A neo-liberal approach to the practice adopted by policymakers is evident and in the absence of legislation employers retain sole discretionary decision making powers over telework schemes and home working conditions. Indeed, many key decision makers fail to appreciate or recognise the potential benefits that may accrue from telework, which is leading to ad hoc and disorganised arrangements to the detriment of this method of working. Telework appears destined to fail even before it has been given a chance to shine as an economic, social and environmental tool of sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Hynes, 2014. "Telework Isn’t Working: A Policy Review," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 45(4), pages 579-602.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:45:y:2014:i:4:p:579-602

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henrike Rau & Amaya Vega, 2012. "Spatial (Im)mobility and Accessibility in I reland: Implications for Transport Policy," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 667-696, December.
    2. Stern,Nicholas, 2007. "The Economics of Climate Change," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521700801.
    3. Nicola Commins & Anne Nolan, 2010. "Car Ownership and Mode of Transport to Work in Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 41(1), pages 43-75.
    4. Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 1991. "Telecommuting and Travel: State of the Practice, State of the Art," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4zc486ph, University of California Transportation Center.
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    Cited by:

    1. O'Keefe, Paul & Caulfield, Brian & Brazil, William & White, Peter, 2016. "The impacts of telecommuting in Dublin," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 13-20.
    2. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto & Velilla, Jorge, 2018. "Telework, the Timing of Work, and Instantaneous Well-Being: Evidence from Time Use Data," IZA Discussion Papers 11271, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Hynes, Mike, 2016. "Developing (tele)work? A multi-level sociotechnical perspective of telework in Ireland," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 21-31.
    4. Alina-Mihaela Dima & Claudia-Elena Țuclea & Diana-Maria Vrânceanu & Gabriela Țigu, 2019. "Sustainable Social and Individual Implications of Telework: A New Insight into the Romanian Labor Market," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(13), pages 1-12, June.

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    teleworking; e-working; Ireland;


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