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Melissa Sharp
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melissa.sharp@worldatwork.org

WorldatWork: Despite More Frequent Use, Survey Finds First Decline in Number of Teleworkers

June 23, 2011–Scottsdale, AZ– For the first time since WorldatWork began measuring telework in 2003, the total number of people who worked from home or another remote location for an entire day at least once a month has declined. The teleworking population in 2010 was 26.2 million, down from 33.7 million in 2008. This number, 26.2 million, represents nearly 20% of the U.S. adult working population in 2010.

The findings, released today in “Telework 2011: A Special Report from WorldatWork, reveal barriers for both employers and employees that have more to do with psychological factors than technology. “The decline in the number of people teleworking is likely due to a combination of things,” said Rose Stanley, CBP, work-life practice leader for WorldatWork. “The decline in the overall number of workers due to high unemployment appears to be a factor, along with heightened employee anxiety over job security and a lack of awareness of telework.”

However, while the total number of teleworkers decreased, the percentage of people who telework more often than once per month increased. In 2010, 84% of teleworkers did so one day per week or more, up from 72% in 2008.

Survey findings also provide a demographic profile of today’s teleworker. The typical teleworker is a 40-year-old, male college graduate who works from home. Although “home” maintained its position at the top of the list of common locations for teleworking in 2010, it experienced one of the biggest declines as a remote work location from 2008 to 2010. Meanwhile, “satellite center” and “hotel” trended upward from 2006 to 2008 to 2010, as did “while on vacation.” 

In a new question of the employee survey, respondents were asked, “In your organization, is being allowed to work remotely considered more of a right or a reward?” Nearly one in three viewed it as a reward or employee benefit. “Telework is none of the above – right, reward or benefit,” said Kathie Lingle, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress. “Rather, it is a business power tool, which, if skillfully applied by properly trained experts within a culture of trust, has been associated with impressive increases in employee engagement, productivity, and profitability. It’s green, it’s inexpensive, and it’s good for you, your business, and your community, so get with the program.”

About the Survey
This special report provides a view of telework from both the employee and the employer perspectives, creating a picture of telework in the United States today. Employee findings are based on employee data collected by The Dieringer Research Group Inc. with funding from WorldatWork. Telephone interviews were conducted in December 2010 among 1,002 U.S. adults ages 18 and older using computer-generated, random-digit telephone lists. Employer data was collected in October 2010 by WorldatWork from its membership of human resources and total rewards professionals.

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