trials would be conducted within specific domains, the lessons learned and tools developed could be applied in many other fields as well. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to gain the full benefit of such trials.
The committee also recommends more general research related to applications to benefit telecommuting. If distributed work is to expand beyond those individuals with considerable technical skill, researchers must pay attention to simplifying complex user interfaces and commonly required operations. Research should concentrate on developing tools, interfaces, and systems that encourage information sharing; bridging synchronous and asynchronous communications to facilitate input to and follow-up from group work sessions; improving and extending the user interface to the telephone network and services; improving capabilities to use audio as a data type; and reducing the costs of input/output devices and network support.
During a period when the nation's economy seems to be in transition to a postindustrial model, the nation and its work force would be well served by having efficient and effective tools for engaging in distributed work. The research topics addressed by the committee in Chapter 5 will provide important new technological capabilities to enhance and extend the practice of distributed work to provide greater locational flexibility, expanded employment opportunities, and better use of our transportation resources.