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December 1997

Commentary by David Fleming

1997 Reflections                                                    
In the Beginning


Is it possible 1997 is coming to a close? It seems only yesterday we started this page. With this in mind, I have invited myself to write this month's commentary in order to reflect and express my gratitude for your participation, interest and encouragement all through 1997.


The Fleming LTD Web site was instigated by my friend and golfing pal, Dave Burger, Professor and Chair of the Environmental Horticulture Department at the University of California, Davis. Without his gentle nudging to offer this site as a public service, I seriously doubt you would be reading it now. Moreover, his technical expertise has saved me on more occasions than I venture to count.


Then came Tom Durkin, Fleming LTD's webmaster. I admit it: I was not particularly interested in acquiring the skills essential to creating a Web site. But Tom was ready, willing and excited about taking on the challenge of learning how to build and run a Web site. Furthermore, he avidly shares my interest in helping telework/telecommuting move solidly into the 21st Century. With Tom's escalating standards of excellence, each update is better than the last. As a professional journalist and editor, Tom has added the much-needed touches, making reading and viewing the page a pleasurable and informative experience.


Also, as a journalist and editor, Tom has distinguished himself this year with two provocative articles for Gil Gordon's Telecommuting Review, been featured as a "Voice from the Industry" in Anne Hart's new journalism textbook Cyberscribes 1: The New Journalists, and has just been named editor of Robot Science & Technology magazine.


Our Guest Commentators

I am eternally grateful for our guest commentators who were major contributors to the success of this Web site. Our commentators have approached the telework subjects from widely diverse perspectives. Since seriously embarking on the telework subject in 1984, I have said that telework cuts across more disciplines and skills than one could possibly imagine. Our guest commentators have proved the point.


Beginning in February with Gloria Allen's "Training the Teleworkforce" through November with Cindy Froggatt's provocative treatise on The Bare Naked Truth About Telework, our topics have been as diverse as the disciplines. (By the way, I unashamedly claim coinage rights for creation of the new word "teleworkforce" - but not without first checking with guru leaders in the field.)


Between Gloria's and Cindy's commentaries, we have heard from other real teleworkers:

Conrad Berube, an entomologist, graphically explained Why I Put Bugs in My Laptop Computer (3/97).


Al Jacobus, a friend and pioneer teleworker, wrote A Day in the Life of a Teleworker, wherein he demonstrated to a reluctant group of telecommunication engineers the wisdom behind the technology they purported to engineer for the good of society (5/97).


Karen Topp Goodwyn offered us a truly inspirational success story about teleworking from an iron lung in The Ultimate Reasonable Accommodation (6-7/97).


Julie Sisson gave us a vivid understanding of how employers can be so near-sighted, missing golden opportunities to employ probably some of the most talented and skilled workers available (4/97).


Juan J. Videgain reported Spain Adopts the Advantages of Teleworking (8/97).


Kris Kirkpatrick wrote about lessons learned about how to - and how not to - market telecenters in her provocative polemic The Unmarketing of Telecommuting (9/97).


Rick Tobin - in When Does Telecommuting Become Telecommunity? - simultaneously extolled the benefits of telework to society and lambasted the fear-based resistance to change exhibited by all too many employers and their managers (10/97).


Judging from the responses we've received to our guest commentators, telework is something that is here to stay. The motivations are clearly present, and the means to the end are many. From my perspective, I have come to better appreciate the many facets of telework and am even more convinced than ever that it has a place in our present and future. We give thanks to our guest commentators and to those who have constructively responded to our guests.


1997 Highlights

Telework travels were among the highest points of interest for me during 1997. It was a thrill and honor to be invited by Jack Nilles to speak in Lisbon in April at Portugal's first national telework conference. The side trip to visit with friends Bill and Marcia Spacy temporarily residing on the coast of the Gulf of Cadez provided me with a rare and exciting adventure: driving alone in two countries without appropriate skills in either Portuguese or Spanish languages. The natives were most kind to me, though.


Working with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida resulted in telework-related education trips to Tallahassee, and Norfolk, Virginia. It appeared that the momentum for telework in those regions is increasing in direct proportion to mounting traffic problems, air pollution and the desire for quality of life improvements.


The same held true for a visit to Boulder, Colorado, where environmental interests for clean air and quality of life are high on the citizens' agenda.


 Working with telework program directors in the states of Arizona, Oregon and Washington brought a short-lived acronym to the telecommunity: ACOW (Arizona, California Oregon and Washington). Later, ACOW was changed to the Telework Collaborative. The collaborative produced an educational kit with a video and guidebook specifically for managers, focusing on what makes telework work for managers. The reviews have been gratifying. I will never forget the creative and productive fellowship of the collaborative.


A recent visit from Peter Arnfalk of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University  reminded me of how my telework interest was first piqued in 1983. Sweden, too, is looking to telework to mitigate adverse environmental impacts. Although internationally we have a way to go to truly use telework as a mitigation measure, the level of awareness is taking hold globally - and what we perceive we can achieve!


Personal Highlights of a Non-Telework Nature

In September, I attended a reunion with 70 "ole" buddies who had been campers and counselors at a Boy Scout summer camp from the late 1940s to 1963 at our beloved Camp Kia Kima, near Hardy, Arkansas (USA). Among our reasons for the reunion was activating the newly organized non-profit Old Kia Kima Preservation Association, Inc. Old Kia Kima is that special place where the land and the river inspired us in our youth to become something more. Our vision is to preserve the legacy of our past and help shape the lives of future generations. The OKKPA mission is to provide an environment where elders may pass on knowledge and experience to enrich and shape the lives of young people today. We are well on our way toward that vision.


Lis, my partner and wife, continued her second year as a volunteer at the California Raptor Center and as an English tutor. She continues teaching me the finer art of bird identification and appreciation while enjoying our mountain and coastal hikes here in California. The strenuous weekend hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail and coastal areas are taken with my long-time hiking partner and friend, Carl Schmid; the hiking pace Carl sets gives me little time to smell the roses.


With a new set of golf clubs made by my friend Dave Burger (the Web site instigator), my fondness for the game has been renewed. Since our daughter Tova's arrival in 1975, only occasional golfing fit the schedule. Now that Tova has left the nest, this once-addictive sport has returned for my enjoyment.


Back to the Future

In the months to come, we will continue offering fresh commentaries about the evolution of telework and the teleworkforce. Your continuing interest and ideas on the subject or on how we might better deliver this service to you are most welcomed. In the meantime, Tom and I trust the information we provide will enrich your lives. Telework is here to stay in the 21st Century.


Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

David Fleming
Fleming LTD

530-756-6430 voice
530-756-6449 fax

Copyright © 1997 - David Fleming 

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