Utilizing Telecommuting in State Institutions
Innovation in the area of information technology makes it possible to use telework (telecommuting) as an integral part of organization of work in Estonian public agencies.
Telework is more used in agencies that have goal-based organization of work, are situated in different facilities or different regions of country or where nature of the tasks requires travelling and telecommunicating with colleagues and partners. Often this kind of work organization is not considered to be telework. Public agencies themselves consider there to be a telework situation only if there is some kind of flexibility of work of benefit for the public servant to choose freely his/her time and place of work. In queries and interviews telework was mostly mentioned in connection with servants, who study, take care of family member or have small children. Although the percentage of these agencies who do not allow telework has fallen from 59% (2003) to 16% (2006), telework is still regarded to be anomaly. Some agencies have special rules about telework in their rules of procedure or record management rules; e.g. the rules of procedure of the National Audit Office states that telework is allowed only if the servant bears for all additional costs. In Ministry of Education and Research telework is regarded as a privilege and all additional costs are compensated to servant.
Generally the technical basis for using telework in Estonian public agencies is good. It is mostly mentality and cultural habits that force or restrict application of telework as a part of organization of work in Estonian public agencies.