Profile: U.S. Teleworker
50 Million employees who would like to telework hold jobs that can allow teleworking, but only 2.9 million really telework.
Defining teleworking is easy; you don't work at your office or business location, right? Well, trying to decipher the many teleworker surveys and reports can cause some confusion. Bruce Philips formerly of the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation said: "The task of trying to make sense of the various government resources of work data is a statistical Vietnam. The data goes in, but you can't get it out"
The report, "The State of Telework in the U.S., How Individuals, Business and Government Benefit" posted June 2011, provides a clearer picture of teleworkers. The report finds that with our mobile workforce, self employed and work at home citizens, the definition used in teleworker surveys and the resulting findings can lead to erroneous conclusions.
This report was generated by analyzing many sources. These include the American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Status of Telework in the Federal Government-Report to Congress and the Telework 2011-A WorldatWork Special Report.
The key findings in the report cover a range of observations. The report focuses on the non-self employed who primarily work from home: "The typical teleworker is 49 years old, college educated, salaried, non-union employee in a management or professional role, earning $68,000 a year at a company with more than 100 employees."
The report also provided these observations:
* Part time teleworking is possible for 45% of the U.S. workforce.
* 50 Million employees who would like to telework hold jobs that can allow teleworking, but only 2.9 million really telework.
* Teleworking continues to grow, about 61% between 2005 and 2009.
* Assuming there is no acceleration in the growth rate of teleworking, 69% more people will be teleworking by 2016, nearly 4.9 million teleworkers in total. This could change with the increasing cost of commuting, changed business and government policies and greater acceptance by the teleworker’s management.
* Private sector organizations account for 76% of the teleworkers. This is a reduction from 81% in 2005. The difference is the increased teleworking population in government workforce, mostly with the federal government, (over a 400% increase from 2005 to 2009).
* The larger the organization, the more likely that teleworking will be allowed.
* Unionized organizations are less likely to offer teleworking.
* More people telework than take public transportation in 20 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
* There are 2.9 million teleworkers, who collectively save about 390 million gallons of gas a year.
* One of the interesting charts (below) from the report displays the teleworking locations.
* Trying to correlate city size with the percentage of teleworkers does not work. New York City has the third lowest percentage of teleworkers at 2.1%.
* The highest level of teleworking is in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos California area at 4.2%.
* Detroit-Warren-Livonia Michigan has the lowest teleworker percentage of large metropolitan areas at 1.8%.
* The fastest telework growth was experienced in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario California area with a 77% increase since 2005.
Some of the many reports seem to conclude that the percentage of those teleworking may not significantly increase in the future. Other reports are more optimistic. The stimuli for the federal government growth were the Oklahoma City bombing, hurricane Katrina and a federal government policy promoting teleworking. The cost of gas at $3/gallon affected the growth in 2005, yet the current $4/gallon cost does not seem to be pushing more workers into teleworking.
The principal deterrent appears to be the management distrust of the remote worker. "How do I know they are working?" is the mantra. This can be overcome by policy changes, training and possibly the use of Presence technology to determine the status of the remote worker.
Some employees also have a problem working remote and alone. They miss the social interactions at work or need to feel supervised. Whatever the reason for teleworking or not, I think it is only is going to increase as the younger generations who use mobile devices populate the organizations.