ERCIM News No.37 - April 1999

Organising Work as Telework - New Possibilities also to Disabled People?

by Eystein Fossum

The Research Council of Norway has set up a research programme to demonstrate how information networks can be used in the develop-ment of Norway as an information society. The programme supports the building of networks between industrial and governmental actors in common value chains in such a way that new knowledge about branches, services, processes and products is gained. In collaboration with organizations in different business areas there are set up several projects to demonstrate the possibilities.

One of the projects or group of projects, in this programme has been the telework and telecommuting project. Until now the main goal of this has been to develop telework as a good way of organising work in the Norwegian society.

During this project an idea came up to try out how telework could help organising work in a good way for disabled and handicapped people. Two separate projects now follow up this idea. These projects are co-ordinated with the main telework project. The reason for this is to get the benefit from using the telework expertise established and to use parallel models for organising the projects.

The first project will gain experience of using telework in rehabilitation of disabled people. The plan is to set up a ‘telework room’ in a rehabilitation hospital. The project will find out which activities and to which extent patients can benefit from a telework-like situation, how to organise the collaboration between the patients employer and the hospital and how to “transfer” the telework situation to other institutions or the patients’ own home after the hospital period. The present project is restricted to patients with motor handicap, which have been employed in a job where they have used dp-systems before they became disabled. These restrictions are chosen to limit the scope of the project. In the long term it is our hope to transfer the experiences from the project patients with other handicaps and with other job background.

The second project will focus on how telework can give new job possibilities to people with mental or physical handicap. There are many reasons for which handicapped people often have job problems. Some handicaps make it very laborious for the person to get to an office every day, and therefore a full time job may be impossible in the long run. Other persons may have some mental handicap as for example not being able to perform a job in common working environment with others. These are only two examples of handicaps that may be obstacles for getting into the work market and where it might be that telework can be a part of a solution. The project will try out and gain experience with how telework may be used as a better way to organise jobs for some groups. The project, which is in its initial phase, will be organised in close collaboration with the working market authorities.

Please contact:

Eystein Fossum - Semco AS
Tel: +47 67 10 19 61

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