National Study of Off-Site Work Finds Major Shift in Traditional Work Environment

The era of off-site work is well under way, but few managers are prepared for it, according to study released by American Business Collaboration (ABC), a consortium of nine U.S. corporations that researches issues concerning work/life issues.

The study found the impact of off-site work is far-reaching, with only a small portion of the workforce (17 percent) having no experience working over distances with off-site colleagues.

"It's a challenge to our mental model," said Arlene Johnson, vice president of WFD Consulting, which oversaw the study. "So many things assume a central workplace, with those who work elsewhere out of the norm, the exception, the oddity. In fact, working over a distance seems to be the new norm. The future is now -- it's already a reality."

A significant problem the survey found is that although workers are quickly moving off-site, little attention is being paid to the issue of how best to manage off-site workers. While one out of two managers supervises off-site workers, only one of every eight managers receiving the training required to appropriately manage these arrangements.

"The workforce is being dispersed," says Arlene Johnson, vice president of WFD Consulting, which helped conduct the survey of 2,000 workers and managers. "Training managers to address this reality is one of the most impactful actions that companies can take to improve their productivity."

The report is the first nationally representative study to profile the extent and nature of off-site work from the 360-degree perspective of off-site workers, their colleagues, and their managers. The national study, “When the Workplace is Many Places: The Extent and Nature of Off-Site Work Today,” was commissioned by the American Business Collaboration (ABC). Conducted by WFD Consulting and Harris Interactive®, the study surveyed approximately 2000 full-time workers in companies of 500 or more employees.

“The good news is that business can use these findings to change culture and practices which are based on the assumption that employees are physically working in the same location,” according to Karen Noble, WFD Senior Consultant and director of the study. “By implementing policies, guidelines, supports, training and infrastructure changes, companies can tap into the high returns of an effectively managed distributed workforce.”

The report also put to rest some assumptions and myths about off-site and on-site workers:

“The ABC has spent 10 years working to address issues concerning the U.S. workforce,” said Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor. “We commend them on their continued commitment and look forward to seeing how U.S. businesses use this comprehensive data to improve business practices and employee satisfaction.”

The U.S. national corporations that comprise the ABC collaboration are: Abbott Laboratories, Allstate Insurance Company, Deloitte & Touche, Exxon Mobil Corporation, GE, IBM Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Texas Instruments.

To get a copy of the study’s Executive Summary, click here. To request a copy of the full study, visit or call 1-800-767-9863.