Just about everything about telecommuting has changed during the past decade, including the equipment used to do it and its perception by the general public. It has also moved from the periphery to the center of how work is performed.
A FlexJobs survey released during the last week of August shows how perceptions are changing. As eWeek reports, half of workers surveyed said that their home was the preferred work venue when they need to get something done.
The reasons: fewer interruptions from colleagues (76 percent), fewer distractions in general (74 percent), less office politics (71 percent), reduced stress due to lack of commuting (68 percent) and a more comfortable environment (65 percent). The consistency of the response percentages suggests that working at home has an extremely solid base of employee support.
The FlexJobs results were echoed and provided some context by Gallup, which surveyed 1,011 adults early last month for its annual Work and Education poll. The polling firm found that telecommuting was up 7 percent – from 30 percent to 37 percent – compared to ten years ago. More compelling is that it has quadrupled from 9 percent that the organization noted in 1995.
The firm breaks down the category by the educational level of telecommuters and how often they work from home. Gallup theorizes, though, on how much higher in popularity the practice will grow:
Even though telecommuting has become more common, the growth in the practice appears to have leveled off in recent years. It is unclear how much more prevalent telecommuting can become because it is really only feasible for workers who primarily work in offices using a computer to perform most of their work duties.
Brian Hughes at Business.com looks at telecommuting through the prism of problems it poses for employers and he offers some solutions. Not surprisingly, the theme is fragmentation and dislocation.
One issue is a lack of centralized task management. The solution, Hughes writes, is a Web-based project management platform. Along the same lines, weekly virtual conferences can replace, at least to some degree, physical team meetings. Cloud storage can make important assets more easily accessible to folks outside the main office, whether they are three miles away or in another country.
It is no surprise that with the rise in mobility and cloud computing, we also see an increase in telecommuting. These technologies have enabled many to access important business information from just about anywhere. However, the future growth of the category remains a bit foggy.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.