Earlier this month, Gallup conducted its annual Work and Education poll and made an interesting discovery: while telecommuting has become more common, its growth has appeared to level 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,” states the Gallup report.
Has telecommuting reached its peak?
Not a chance. It’s important to consider that people telecommute in two basic ways: employees who work from home or at favorite neighborhood spots like the local bookstore or Starbucks and those who hold down a traditional office job but then telecommute during evenings or weekends as needed.
Here are some of the results of the Gallup survey, which conducted 1,011 telephone interviews of American adults (at least 18 years of age) from Aug. 5 – 9:
37 percent say they have telecommuted, up from 30 percent from last decade.
- 46 telecommute during the workday.
- 55 percent are college graduates while 52 percent have an annual household income of $75,000 or more.
- 44 percent are white-collar professionals while 16 percent are blue-collar workers.
- The average worker telecommutes two days per month
- The average number of workdays that workers telecommute has not changed much since almost a decade ago (2006).
However, people’s views about the productivity of telecommuters may also change its future path. Fifty-six percent of survey participants now believe remote workers are just as productive as those who work in offices compared to roughly 45 percent a decade ago. Approximately 17 percent believe they are more productive while roughly 18 percent say they are less productive.
Another influencer are companies like Yahoo that pulled back the corporate reigns on telecommuting several years ago, changing company policies that now require all employees to work in the office. Bummer.
Still, I have a hard time believing that telecommuting has reached maturity. Due to technology advancements and the ingenuity of the American worker, there’s no telling what will happen next.
As proof, some creative approaches are already being implemented for nonoffice workers. Several years ago, Emler Swim School, which supports nine locations in Texas and Kansas, began using web-based water chemistry control systems that enable the director of maintenance – pool operations to remotely monitor and control the pool’s water chemistry with network-enabled devices like a PC, smart phone, iPad or tablet.
The technology opened the door for nontraditional telecommuting during off-work hours. Although it doesn’t replace the need for manual controls, the director can still make the same adjustments at anytime from home (or anywhere else) as if he was physically standing in front of the controls at the school.
Although some occupations will remain exempt from telecommuting opportunities, ranging from hospital nurses to restaurant chefs or servers, there are bound to be more unusual examples as the line between work and home grows fuzzier.
So expect the number of telecommuters to climb in the years ahead as well as more changes in the types of workers who telecommute. The best scenarios are yet to come.Twitter It!