Executives Expect Telecommuting Numbers to Increase

A growing number of workers will be dialing, rather than driving, into work, according to a recent survey. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of executives polled said it is common for their companies' employees to work off-site. Moreover, 82 percent of managers said they expect the number of employees who work remotely to increase in the next five years. The study was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 150 senior executives from the largest companies in the United States.

When asked, "How common is it for employees at your company to work off-site or from remote locations?" 44 percent of the executives responded "Somewhat common," 31 percent said "Not common at all," and 25 percent said "Very common." When asked, "Do you expect the number of employees who work off-site or from remote locations to increase or decrease in the next five years?" 60 percent responded "Increase somewhat," 22 percent said "Increase greatly," and 18 percent said they thought things would stay the same. None of the executives thought the number of off-site workers would decrease.

"Rising fuel prices are causing people to look for alternatives to lengthy commutes, and working from home or at locations closer to home are attractive options," said OfficeTeam Executive Director Dave Willmer. "Technology has also made it easier for employees to work remotely when traveling for business."

In cases where employees request telecommuting or work-from-home arrangements, Willmer cautions that not every position is a fit. "For professionals whose jobs require a great deal of face time with colleagues or customers, working remotely might not be practical." OfficeTeam suggests those who want to work off-site ask themselves the following questions before making the request:

  • Does my company already have a remote work policy? Review your employee manual or contact your human resources department to find out. If no policy exists, research how other companies like yours have established successful remote work arrangements for their staff.
  • What's in it for them? Managers will respond more favorably to your request if they know the arrangement will benefit the company and not just you personally. Will the arrangement save your firm money or increase productivity?
  • Have I thought through the details? Your supervisor will want to know key information, like why you are a good telework candidate, technology tools and upgrades you will need, and security measures you have in place at home or at your proposed remote work location to protect company information.
  • How self-motivated am I? If you are easily distracted or lack self-discipline, working off-site could be challenging.
  • How will I stay in touch? Think about how you intend to interact with colleagues to ensure projects stay on track. Also, offer to provide regular status updates so your manager knows your progress on assignments.
  • How will I stay visible? To avoid being overlooked for plum projects or promotions, maintain plenty of face time with your managers and colleagues. Schedule important meetings for your on-site work days.
  • How can I show the arrangement will work? Ask your supervisor if you can try telecommuting on a trial period, working remotely one or two days a week. Propose several meetings with your boss throughout the test period so you both can evaluate how the arrangement is working.

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