There’s no “official” mechanism for agreeing what is the meaning of telework terms and these two in particular are often used as if they are interchangeable but there is some merit in applying them differently. Here’s how they are used:
A “Telecottage” is usually a “community based” facility that is there to assist learning, access to technology, access to work etc. for its local community. The Telecottages movement started in Sweden and the idea has been taken up quite widely, notably in the UK where at the last count there were some 200 telecottages.
A “Telecentre” suggests a more commercially focused facility that has been established for specific commercial purposes. Typically to provide workplaces for people who may well have full time jobs but want to work away from their employer’s “functional office” but who don’t want to work in their homes. In this sense a telecentre is like the kinds of “serviced office” facilities that have existed for many years but with a very high emphasis on provision of workspace and facilities with high information technology and networking capabilities.
Telecottages tend to emphasise “social support” for their users, few of whom will work full time at the telecottage, more of them will “drop in” to use some facilities, book themselves in for some training etc., but also be connected to the telecottage from their home, where they may have their main workbase.
Telecentres place considerably more emphasis on providing a well managed, secure and uninterrupted working environment for people who need a place where they can get on with the job and be easily connected to their employer, colleagues, customers etc.
Author: Ian Simmins, Source: eto.org.uk