"We can't afford to employ people to watch over each other," says Carsten Sorensen, of the London School of Economics and Political Science. "Command-and-control management might give almost full employment in the UK, but managers spend too much time making sure everyone else is working."
Sorensen is the author of The Future Role of Trust in Work - The Key Success Factor for Mobile Productivity, the first report from software giant Microsoft's ongoing research programme 'Tomorrow's Work'. His contention is that technology-supported teleworking will help increase productivity for organisations across the UK. And he is not alone in believing the remote workforce is the workforce of the future.
Last year, research from IT services supplier Unisys found that 49% of workers wanted to structure their working day outside the conventional nine to five. And a survey conducted by global telecoms giant AT&T and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that two-thirds of executives in 2004 had some staff working from home regularly, with 81% identifying the support of homeworking as a 'critical' or 'important' network goal.
With employment legislation now giving parents with children under the age of six the legal right to work flexibly, even the government is getting in on the act.
Technology - the internet, message boards and instant messaging - enables employees to maintain contact with their colleagues and work where they want, whenever they want. However, getting the best from flexible work requires a change in the way employees are managed.
According to Sorensen, employers and managers need to trust their employees to do the work required without standing over them to make sure it is done. This level of trust is not common among organisations in the UK.
Peter Thomson, director of the Future Work Forum at Henley Management College, agrees.
"Some organisations think that if they allow people to manage their own time they'll go off to the shops and never get the work done," he says. "Experience shows it is the reverse. People who are given freedom to work in their own time respect that and work hard."
Microsoft has been evolving its own flexible working practices, creating an 'output-managed' approach to ensure that staff remain productive, according to the company's UK HR manager, Kay Winsper.
"All employees have a one-to-one with their manager every month to check their work is in line with the b