Who telecommutes the most? Not developed nations, new survey finds

Telecommuting may seem like a privilege of the professional and fully wired, so you may have assumed the practice was most prevalent in the developed world. But when Ipsos recently surveyed a total of 11,383 employees with Internet connections from 24 countries for a survey released Monday, they found quite the opposite.

While on average nearly one-in-five (17 percent) wired workers claims to telecommute on a frequent basis, the percentage of workers taking advantage of their broadband connection to get out of the office was far higher in emerging markets.

“Those working in the Middle East and Africa (27 percent), Latin America (25 percent) and Asia-Pacific (24 percent) are considerably more likely than those in North America (9 percent) and Europe (9 percent) to telecommute ‘on a frequent basis,’” the survey found. The rates for individual countries hold more surprises with these nations reporting the most and fewest telecommuters:

  • India: 56 percent
  • Indonesia: 34 percent
  • Mexico: 30 percent
  • Argentina: 29 percent
  • South Africa: 28 percent
  • Turkey: 27 percent
  • Canada: 8 percent
  • France: 7 percent
  • Italy: 7 percent
  • Sweden: 6 percent
  • Germany: 5 percent
  • Hungary: 3 percent

So who exactly qualifies as a frequent telecommuter for the purposes of the Ipsos survey? A telecommuter, the release explains is “an employee uses a stationary or portable computer to do their office work from a location outside of their office,” so a fairly standard definition that encompasses how the word is commonly used here in the States.

The survey also found differences between populations in how much appetite for telecommuting exists among those who have not yet been offered the option. In Japan, a measly 12 percent would telecommute if given the opportunity. Sixteen percent in Sweden and 19 percent in Great Britain felt the same, while a whopping 54 percent of Argentines would happily jump on the telecommuting bandwagon if allowed.

One thing healthy majorities in nearly every country agreed on though was that telecommuting is a productivity booster. Sixty-five percent globally told pollsters “telecommuters are more productive because the flexibility allows them to work when they have the most focus and/or because having maximum control over the work environment and schedule leads to job satisfaction and happiness.” Surprisingly, in telecommuting-bereft Hungary, 74 percent agreed with this proposition, as did a similar proportion of those polled in Argentina, Poland, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

What do you think accounts for the national differences revealed by the survey?

Image courtesy of Flickr user diongillard.