Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016

Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016

Summary: It was shocking to me anyway that we already have 34 million Americans working at least occasionally from home today. And that's with broadband to only 56% of US homes.

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TOPICS: CXO, IT Employment
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It was shocking to me anyway that we already have 34 million Americans working at least occasionally from home today. And that's with broadband to only 56% of US homes. But that's what the data say. And with our Consumer Technographics survey of 61,033 US and Canadian consumers, you can be confident that the numbers are accurate.

But it's even more surprising to run the numbers forward to 2016 and see how many Americans will work from home then: 63 million! We just published our US Telecommuting forecast that shows how an additional 29 million telecommuters will enter the remote workforce. What's going on?

  • First, broadband pipes to the home, work laptops, and secure VPNs bring the tools that most information workers need right to the kitchen table or bedroom office. And collaboration tools like instant messaging, Web conferencing, team sites, and desktop video conferencing make it ever-easier to stay in touch and contribute to the project.
  • Second, employees rightfully point out that they will save time in commuting and can get more done for their employers with that time. The benefits of work flexibility and leaving gas in the tank are also real.
  • Third, most telecommuters work from home only occasionally. The number of full time telecommuters today is small compared with "regular telecommuters" (1-4 days per week) and "occasional telecommuters" (less than 1 day a week -- think snow days and Friday's before long weekends).
  • Fourth, it's actually managers and other high-influence employees that are most likely to work from home regularly or occasionally. And that means their growing comfort with the ability to monitor and manage employee productivity will spill over into their support for a telecommuting workforce.

As an enlightened Information & Knowledge Management Professional, what does this mean for you?

  • What it means (WIM) #1: You should get on top of who in the workforce is already working from home and who would like to. That means surveying your workforce to determine how best to provision and support them. Note that this workforce provisioning analysis is something that we're seeing more of every day, and we're engaged already in projects with clients to do it.
  • WIM #2: It's time to look at your policies in support or in conflict with telecommuting. Do they reflect today's broadband-enabled home? You should call a meeting with HR to find out more.
  • WIM #3: Check out your remote workforce toolkit. Does the VPN work well? How about the laptop provisioning guidelines? Is Instant Messaging a priority for your firm? Have you tried desktop video conferencing? Are your teamsite tools ready to support the remote workforce?
  • WIM #4: Find the pockets of telecommuting support in your organization and create a collaboration environment for managers to support each other. There are real issues for a remote workforce around onboarding new employees, managing a younger workforce, establishing clear key performance indicators, learning how to manage by objective, and the like. The experienced managers in your organization can help each other with collaboration like wikis, training, and portal resources.

How's the remote workforce progressing in your company? Please let me know.

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

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10 comments
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  • Don't tease me!

    Ha! Our leagel department has decided there is too much risk for home related injuries and having to pay workers comp. Nope, no telecomuting here, no matter how much sense it makes. :(
    T-Rexx
  • RE: Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016

    Regardless of how we do work, there are always challenges to overcome. That's the nature of work. And the challenges telework introduces are far outweighed by its benefits...

    Re: "You should get on top of who in the workforce is already working from home and who would like to"

    - Joining forces and supporting each other is what will really push telework forward. Technology is the tool, but people are the validation.

    Telework has been debated for decades now. It's exciting to see it quickly increasing as a way to get things done. And that means that our policies should change too. If a company doesn't have a telework policy in place yet, that policy should include the ability to adjust as needed. Broadband access, for instance, has spread quickly over a few short years. Five year old policies may even be outdated.

    Re: "Find the pockets of telecommuting support"

    - If you can't find the support in your own organization, look externally. The IT crowd is full of telework advocates, and we want to help! I'm happy to help teleworkers and companies that want to reap the benefits of teleworking. Find me at: [b]http://www.telesaur.com[/b] and on Twitter as [b]@telesaur[/b]
    telesaur_is_telework
    • RE: Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016

      Telework is strong and getting stronger. My wife and I have both been teleworkers for five years plus both working for large international companies. We found when our son graduated from high school we could live anywhere we wanted as long as we were within reasonable travel to a major airport. At the time we were living in Baltimore and when we started our dream home search of all places we found a little one stoplight town in Oregon halfway to the Pacific Coast from Portland Oregon right on the banks of the Columbia River. The one contingency we had on the purchase was high speed internet had to be available. It was and now we live on the beach of the Columbia River. We wake up to everything from kite boarders to big ships cruising past the back yard. Check out Rainier Oregon, where else can you buy waterfront or hillside property with view of the Columbia river for under 250,000.00
      stc54
  • RE: Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016

    Telecommuting is great, when it works. Half of our company is telecommuting and for the most part it works very well and they are more productive at home than in the office. But the problem, like we experienced today, is when their ISP goes out. Then you have a good part of those teleworkers sitting at home doing nothing because they are at the mercy of the ISP to get the internet connection fixed.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Remote Office options for telecommuters

    Home telecommuting is only one option for telecommuters. Remote Office Centers offer another solution. ROCs lease individual offices, internet and phone systems to workers from different companies in shared centers located around the city and suburbs. ROCs offer a hybrid telecommuting solution for workers who want to skip the long daily commuter, but prefer the structure and infrastructure that a professional office environment provides.

    ROCs are fairly new, but can be found in many cities by searching the internet for "Remote Office Centers".
    ArtUllman@...
  • It is entirely employee dependent.

    I have been telecommuting 100% (about 6 times a year I head to the home office) since 2001. I only got broadband in 2003 (DXPC, SSH compression, VNC are your friends). I was the pioneer, and it worked. That said, it is not managers who telecommute nearly as much as my colleagues now do. There is one item that has to be determined. Some people simply can't work from home.

    1) You can't, no matter who you are, work as efficiently AND look after the kids.
    2) Some people are simply distracted too easily. From TV to I'll just get the grocery shopping done now kind of deal.

    On the metrics, it is abundantly apparent who is effective at working remotely within even a week.

    If you are going to try to work from home, you HAVE to treat it, literally, as "going to work". I have coached quite a few telecommuters. Here are the rules, they help.

    1) Do not break routine. If you shower, coffee, breakfast, makeup, etc, then go to work, do the same, then mentally, "go to work" in your office.
    2) Dedicated office space. When you are there, you work. When done work, you leave the space. If you have a notebook, unhook it and "play" in another part of your home.
    3) Dress as if you are going to the office (presentable). Underwear and tank top not acceptable in the office, it will help you work at home).
    4) Access is key. I have a company cell phone and it is with me. Expect, during the beginning that everyone assumes you are channel surfing on your TV. When they always have access to you and you are actually working, they will adapt.
    5) Accept that some managers will never accept not being able to see you in the office when they want. It doesn't matter how much you produce, or how effective you are, some managers can't adjust. Accept this or move to a new department.

    In my division, it has gone from me alone to probably 90% telecommute at least part time. (1 to 2 days/week)

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • Oh yeah, new emplyees can't for a while.

      It is beyond critical that new people meet, become part of the team. At most, they can remote 2 days a week, and you want ask more people in your group to come in more frequently. Believe it or not, actual human interaction is required to accomplish this.

      When you do telecommute almost full time, it is mandatory that you go out for lunch and meet friends for lunch 2 to 3 times/week. People need human interaction. Consciously avoid using email for anything that is better suited to a phone call.

      TripleII
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
  • telecommuting saves $2bllion a day

    interesting data
    88Candles
  • RE: Telecommuting will rise to include 43% of US workers by 2016

    What One Day Of Commuting Costs:
    Worldwide car commuters 275
    Total gallons of gas per day 413
    Total pounds of pollutants 65
    Commute miles per day 6,875
    Total gas cost per day $2,063
    all figures in millions
    http://steveharmon.com/?p=23
    88Candles
  • Virtual Assistance

    I've built an entire virtual assistance based on this growing workplace trend. Remote staff can be more product and efficient than in-office staff - but I agree not everyone can be a telecommuting employee and not every business can support it.

    I like that Triple III addresses some issues of working from home. I suggest additional ways to overcome these challenges in my training for virtual assistants. www.virtualassistantstraining.com
    Avasoffice