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Telework Revs Up as More Employers Offer Work Flexibility

Feb. 18, 2009 — The number of U.S. employees who worked remotely at least one day per month increased 39% the past two years, from approximately 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008, according to WorldatWork. In its survey brief Telework Trendlines 2009, WorldatWork reports that the sum of all teleworkers — employees, contractors and business owners — has risen 17% 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 United States has risen 43% — 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 United States increased 39%, 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% from 28.7 million in 2006 to 33.7 million in 2008; 43% 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%), a customer’s place of business (41%) and car (37%). Restaurants and libraries are becoming less common locations for telecommuting.
  5. 61% 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.

Survey Methodology
WorldatWork commissioned The Dieringer Research Group, Inc., to conduct a random digit dialed telephone survey between Nov. 6, 2008 and Dec. 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% confidence interval to within +/- 3.1%. This sample size allows representative population projections for selected segments of online and offline U.S. adults, 18 years and older.

Contents © 2008 WorldatWork. No part of this article may be reproduced, excerpted or redistributed in any form without express written permission from WorldatWork.

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Thu February 19, 2009 9:36 PMReport Abuse
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Although the data in this report does suggest that casual telecommuting continues to climb dramatically, it's interesting that the number of people engaged in full-time telework seems to have remained flat over the last four years. Does that suggest that telecommuting is not turning out to be the lifestyle changing factor that some of us have suggested it might be? For anyone interested in a look at how remote workers in rural communities on the northern Great Plains are making telecommuting work for them, please visit