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Telework Trending Upward, Survey Says

The number of Americans whose employer allows them to work remotely at least one day per month increased 63 percent, from 7.6 million in 2004 to 12.4 million in 2006, according to a recent report issued by WorldatWork. In total, the sum of teleworkers (both employed and self-employed) working remotely at least one day per month has risen 10 percent from 26.1 million in 2005 to 28.7 million in 2006.

Based on government estimates of 149.3 million workers in the U.S. labor force, the 2006 data means that roughly 8 percent of American workers have an employer that allows them to telecommute one day per month and roughly 20 percent of the workforce engages in telework. The rising trend in the past two years is likely a combination of factors, including the proliferation of high speed/broadband and other wireless access (which has made it both less expensive and more productive to work remotely) and the willingness of more employers to embrace flexibility and work-life balance.

The number of telecommuters using a broadband connection at home increased by more than 45 percent in the 2006 survey, following an even larger 65 percent rise in the 2005 survey. These huge increases are logical given the explosion in broadband and high-speed Internet usage in the past several years. Increased use of broadband has helped employees more productively work from a distance, especially in accessing corporate networks. In 2006, 19.1 million home-based "employed telecommuters" used broadband compared to 8 million in 2004.

"The current data suggests that technology is no longer a barrier to telework," said Rose Stanley, work-life practice leader at WorldatWork. "We estimate that 100 million U.S. workers will telework by 2010. The dramatic rise in telework will take place in part because more and more companies are realizing the cost benefits from telework and are viewing it as a tool to attract and retain employees."

To access a full copy of the survey report, click here.

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