Telework on the rise as more employers offer flexible work arrangements

The number of U.S. employees who worked remotely at least one day per month increased 39 percent the past two years, from approximately 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008, according to WorldatWork, the global human resources association that studies telework as a tool to attract, motivate, and retain employees. In its survey brief Telework Trendlines 2009, WorldatWork reports that the sum of all teleworkers – employees, contractors, and business owners – has risen 17 percent from 28.7 million in 2006 to 33.7 million in 2008.

In the five-year period since 2003, the total number of once-a-month telecommuters in the U.S. has risen 43 percent - from 23.5 million to 33.7 million Americans. "Our study shows that occasional telework has risen dramatically," said Rose Stanley, work-life practice leader at WorldatWork. "Employers seem more willing to try new ways of working. We receive calls on a daily basis from employers wanting to learn how to pilot a telework program, the do's and don'ts of managing virtual workers, and how to use telework to reward and motivate talent."

Key Findings

  1. The number of employee telecommuters in the U.S. increased 39 percent, from 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008.
  2. The sum of all teleworkers – employees, contractors, and business owners – climbed 17 percent from 28.7 million in 2006 to 33.7 million in 2008; 43 percent from 2003 to 2008.
  3. There is a shift away from full-time telework to occasional telework: the number of employed teleworkers who work remotely at least once a month grew while the number of those who work remotely almost every day decreased slightly.
  4. The most common locations for remote work are home (87 percent), a customer's place of business (41 percent), and car (37 percent). Restaurants and libraries are becoming less common locations for telecommuting.
  5. 61 percent of employed respondents who are not currently working remotely but feel they could said they are unwilling to give up some pay in exchange for being allowed to telecommute.

You can access a full copy of the survey report.

About the Survey
WorldatWork commissioned The Dieringer Research Group, Inc., to conduct a random digit dialed (RDD) telephone survey between November 6, 2008 and December 2, 2008. One thousand and two telephone interviews were conducted with U.S. adults 18 years and older using computer generated random-digit telephone lists. The data were weighted to match current population norms for U.S. adults using four weighting factors: age, gender, educational attainment and U.S. Census region.

Data reported for all U.S. adults (n=1,002) is considered reliable at the 95 percent confidence interval to within +/- 3.1 percent. This sample size allows representative population projections for selected segments of both online and offline U.S. adults, 18 years and older.

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