Telecommuting becomes business as usual
Worried about rising gas prices, air pollution and traffic snarls? Well, you can relax, because by 2009, nearly 14 million workers won't be driving to the office.
Instead, they'll be telecommuting. We've been hearing about this trend -- also known as teleworking -- off and on for the last decade, but I don't think people realize just how widespread the movement is.
For instance, did you know almost 12 million employees telework more than eight hours per week right now? That's nearly double the 6 million who teleworked in 2000, according to Gartner Dataquest. At this rate, no wonder we'll reach 14 million in just a couple of years.
Several environmental factors are adding momentum as well. More employees want flexible working options to accommodate job sharing, maternity leave and work-life balance. Managers are coming around to the idea that workers don't need to be physically present to do a good job. And affordable, mobile technology, such as PDAs and smart phones, is readily available, helping people work anywhere, anytime, without a hitch.
I found more evidence for these trends at last year's Society for Human Resource Management Conference and Exposition. During the conference, we surveyed 198 HR managers about their remote workforce, and found 81 percent of hiring managers had policies in place to let employees telework.
Plus, 67 percent believed the number of employees who worked remotely would increase over the next two years. (Talk about seeing the writing on the wall!)
Overall, I think the war for talent is driving the adoption of telecommuting, particularly for the IT sector. HR managers in this field are recognizing that flexible work structures could mean the difference between winning or losing a bid for a high-impact professional. And when there aren't many available, you can't afford to let them go.
Looking for more telework tips? Check out my article in ComputerWorld on this very topic. And I'd love to hear your stories -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- if you're a telecommuter or an exec who manages them.
P.S. If you want to see our complete 2006 survey data and methodology from SHRM, drop me a line here, and I'll send it along.
Posted by Jim L.