Sociotechnical systems (STS) theory explains the interaction between social and technological factors. STS examines the relationships between people, technology, and the work environment, in order to design work in a way that enhances job satisfaction and increases productivity.  Originally developed to explain the paradox of improved technology but decreased productivity,  the theory can be applied to the design of telework. One of the principles of STS is minimal critical specification.  This principle states that, unless absolutely essential, there should be minimal specification of objectives and how to do tasks in order to avoid closing options or inhibiting effective actions. Telecommuting provides teleworkers with the freedom to decide how and when to do their tasks.  Similarly, teleworkers have the responsibility to use their equipment and resources to carry out their responsibilities. This increase in responsibility for their work also increases their power,  supporting the idea that teleworking is a privilege and in some companies, considered a promotion. 
An employee who telecommuted filed wage-payment claims in the state where she worked.
For a roundup of the latest statistics on who’s telecommuting and how much, visit our Telecommuting Statistics Page . For a look at how we as a nation could benefit from regular telework, visit our Telework Savings Potential Page .
– Half-time telework, for the portion of the population that holds telework-compatible jobs and wants to work from home, would save more than 1,600 lives, prevent almost 99,000 injuries, and save over $12 billion a year in direct and indirect costs associated with traffic accidents.
Ian Reynolds has served as Director of WorkLife and Community Programs in the Office of Work, Life and Engagement at Johns Hopkins University and Health System since 2011. He oversees the development and delivery of a variety of programs and services designed to assist faculty and staff navigate the competing demands between work and life. Programs include childcare referrals, adult and child emergency backup care, eldercare consultations, resources for expectant and breastfeeding employees, flexible work arrangements, and housing and relocation assistance. Ian frequently presents to audiences on strategies for managing one’s worklife effectiveness. Ian was recently interviewed by 1 Million for Flexibility about his role in promoting workplace flexibility at Johns Hopkins.
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Related: How to Protect Corporate Culture in a Telecommuting World