RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS

TO FACILITATE DISTRIBUTED WORK

Technology and Telecommuting: Issues and Impacts Committee

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1994



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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS TO FACILITATE DISTRIBUTED WORK Technology and Telecommuting: Issues and Impacts Committee Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1994

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this project was provided by the Department of Energy (Grant No. DE-FG02-93ER25161), and that support does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of Energy of the views expressed in the report. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 94-68990 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05185-1 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) B-498 Copyright 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMMUTING: ISSUES AND IMPACTS COMMITTEE ROBERT KRAUT, Carnegie Mellon University, Chair KATHLEEN CHRISTENSEN, City University of New York CLEMENT COLE, Locus Computing Corporation FRED GOLDSTEIN, Digital Equipment Corporation GIL GORDON, Gil Gordon Associates G. ANTHONY GORRY, Rice University IRENE GREIF, Lotus Development Corporation PATRICIA MOKHTARIAN, University of California at Davis LISA NEAL, EDS Center for Advanced Research LAWRENCE ROWE, University of California at Berkeley CHRISTOPHER SCHMANDT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MISCHA SCHWARTZ, Columbia University JAMES MALLORY, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board STEPHEN GODWIN, Transportation Research Board GLORIA BEMAH, Project Assistant

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD WILLIAM A. WULF, University of Virginia, Chair FRANCES E. ALLEN, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center JEFF DOZIER, University of California at Santa Barbara DAVID J. FARBER, University of Pennsylvania HENRY FUCHS, University of North Carolina CHARLES GESCHKE, Adobe Systems Inc. JAMES GRAY, San Francisco, California BARBARA GROSZ, Harvard University DEBORAH A. JOSEPH, University of Wisconsin RICHARD M. KARP, University of California at Berkeley BUTLER W. LAMPSON, Digital Equipment Corporation BARBARA LISKOV, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JOHN MAJOR, Motorola ROBERT L. MARTIN, AT&T Network Systems DAVID G. MESSERSCHMITT, University of California at Berkeley WILLIAM PRESS, Harvard University CHARLES L. SEITZ, Myricom Inc. EDWARD SHORTLIFFE, Stanford University School of Medicine CASMIR S. SKRZYPCZAK, NYNEX Corporation LESLIE L. VADASZ, Intel Corporation MARJORY S. BLUMENTHAL, Director LOUISE A. ARNHEIM, Senior Staff Officer HERBERT S. LIN, Senior Staff Officer JAMES MALLORY, Staff Officer RENEE A. HAWKINS, Staff Associate GLORIA BEMAH, Administrative Assistant KIMBERLY STRIKER, Project Assistant LESLIE WADE, Project Assistant

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS RICHARD N. ZARE, Stanford University, Chair RICHARD S. NICHOLSON, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Vice Chair STEPHEN L. ADLER, Institute for Advanced Study JOHN A. ARMSTRONG, IBM Corporation (retired) SYLVIA T. CEYER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology AVNER FRIEDMAN, University of Minnesota SUSAN L. GRAHAM, University of California at Berkeley ROBERT J. HERMANN, United Technologies Corporation HANS MARK, University of Texas at Austin CLAIRE E. MAX, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory CHRISTOPHER F. McKEE, University of California at Berkeley JAMES W. MITCHELL, AT&T Bell Laboratories JEROME SACKS, National Institute of Statistical Sciences A. RICHARD SEEBASS III, University of Colorado LEON T. SILVER, California Institute of Technology CHARLES P. SLICHTER, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ALVIN W. TRIVELPIECE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory NORMAN METZGER, Executive Director

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work Preface In 1993, the Department of Energy (DOE) asked the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council to organize a study of the technological issues and impacts related to telecommuting. In response, CSTB, in collaboration with the NRC's Transportation Research Board (TRB), convened a committee of researchers and practitioners with both technical and sociological expertise. The committee's task was to recommend research into relevant computing and communications technologies that could enable increased telecommuting. In developing these recommendations the committee relied on existing literature, briefings, and its own expertise and deliberations. With the agreement of DOE, the study committee chose to broaden its approach to its task in two specific ways. First, it chose to examine both telecommuting and the broader topic of distributed work, because it believed that focusing solely on telecommuting would overlook more far-reaching impacts of computing and telecommunications technology on the way work is done. Second, the committee chose to examine technological issues within a broad social context in order to ensure the relevance of its recommendations. This study is the result of the study committee's deliberations. It is independent of and complementary to the April 1993 Department of Transportation study, Transportation Implications of Telecommuting

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.), on the future impacts of telecommuting on transportation, and to the DOE study Energy, Emissions, and Social Consequences of Telecommuting (U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.), which was released in early 1994. The publication of Research Recommendations to Facilitate Distributed Work during 1994 will allow its conclusions and recommendations to be considered during the development of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) in the same manner as those regarding other nationally important applications such as education and health care. At another level, the committee is convinced that computing, telecommunications, and related technologies are profoundly changing the ways in which society acquires, manages, and distributes information. In the private sector, the development of new tools for distributed work could enable new forms of collaboration, allowing employees to work effectively at any location that is mutually agreeable to them and their employers. One result could be new, more productive configurations of people, processes, and technology. In the public sector, new tools for distributed work could be used to address high-priority needs, such as rural and inner-city health care, and to remedy long-standing inequities among the nation's classrooms. A nationwide information and network infrastructure could open new avenues for mutual cooperation and support among our workplaces, schools, neighborhood centers, community groups, and government. This new digital environment has the potential to enable a richness in information access and sharing that could help us restore a sense of community within and between the public and private sectors. Achieving such goals will depend on having both the specific knowledge and broad understanding needed to implement appropriate technology wisely. In accordance with that concept, this report complements two other recent CSTB reports, Information Technology in the Service Society and Realizing the Information Future (both published by National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1994), and the forthcoming Rights and Responsibilities of Participants in Networked Communities. The Technology and Telecommuting: Issues and Impacts Committee is grateful to the numerous individuals who contributed to its deliberations and to those who commented on early drafts of this report. The anonymous reviewers in particular helped to sharpen and focus the material. The staff of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and the Transportation Research Board were indispensable in creating the report. Gloria Bemah attended to the

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work multitude of details required for committee meetings and report production, Leslie Wade helped check references, and Jim Mallory transformed the committee's submissions into the final text. The committee, however, retains responsibility for the final content of the report. Robert Kraut, Chair Technology and Telecommuting: Issues and Impacts Committee

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   TECHNOLOGY AND THE CHANGING WORKPLACE   5     New Opportunities for Flexible Work   5     This Report   7     Approach and Emphasis   7     Scope and Definitions—Telecommuting Versus Distributed Work   8     Technology and Society   8     The Rise of Distributed Work—Representative Concerns   10     Other Impacts and Public Policy Considerations   13     Summary Comments   14 2   DISTRIBUTED WORK: CURRENT REALITY AND PROMISE   16     Aspects of Distributed Work Enabled by Computing and Communications Technology   16     Information Processing   17     Audio and Video Communications   19     Computer-mediated Communications   22     Information Sharing and Use of Remote Facilities   24     The Reality of Today's Distributed Work   25     The Mobile Worker—A Composite   25     Distributed Education   29

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Research Recommendations: To Facilitate Distributed Work     Collaborative Work—The Need for New Products Linked to Underlying Databases or Objects   31     The Potential for Increased Distributed Work   32 3   DISTRIBUTED WORK AND GROUP PROCESSES   35     Distributed Work in the Context of Business Organizations   36     Strategies for Accommodating Distributed Work   37     Basic Group Processes to Be Supported for Effective Distributed Work   39     Selecting Goals   39     Recruiting Group Members   40     Managing Distributed Groups   42     Obtaining Information   42 4   FACILITATING DISTRIBUTED WORK   46     Identifying Barriers to Expansion of Distributed Work   46     Complexity-of-Use Barriers   46     Cost-of-Technology Barriers   48     Designing Communications Infrastructure to Support a Range of Capabilities for Distributed Work   49     Supporting Typical Work Routines   49     Envisioning the Applications Enabled by Unlimited Bandwidth   51     Enabling Integration of Low-and High-Bandwidth Applications   52     Meeting Requirements for Multimedia Communication   52     User Requirements   53     Technology Requirements   54 5   RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS   56     Infrastructure Research   56     Mobile Work   57     Multipoint, Multimedia Distributed Work   59     Applications Research   60     Domain-Specific Research   60     Generic Research   62     Conclusion   64     BIBLIOGRAPHY   66