Telework is popular, but for different reasons geographically and demographically

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Staples have released results of their third annual telecommuting survey which confirm some of the most obvious assumptions but also reveal a few surprises:

  • A better work/life balance — this ranks as the number one reason employees want to telecommute (74%).
  • Transportation savings and green benefits — 69% and 47%, respectively.
  • Reduced stress — stress at work must be on the rise, because 69% identify this as a major benefit of telecommuting, up from 48% from 2012.
  • Happiness — 65% of employers report happier workers when telecommuting is an option.
  • Reduced absenteeism — 33% of employers note absenteeism down when telecommuting is allowed.
  • Demographics — 56% Millennials say phone/mobile device is most important tool, 28% for Gen X, and 19% of Boomers. Gen X and Boomers said laptop was most important, 62% and 66% respectively. Boomers are driven by transport savings (77%), contrasted with work/life balance for Gen X (80%) and Millennials (69%).
  • Geography — In the Northeast transportation savings was the largest reason to telework at 71%, while in the other quadrants work/life balance won out: South 73%, Midwest 86%, and West 83%.

Even though companies are allowing people to work from home and to bring their own devices to their work, there are still some gaps that need to be worked out:

  • Security — Only 25% of companies train their employees in data backup and security  practices.
  • VPN — 64% of employees say poor VPN connection is their biggest technology barrier when working at home.
  • Connectivity — 58% of employers say telecommuters have connectivity issues several time per month or more.
  • Furniture — Only 10% of employers offer business-appropriate furniture to telecommuters.

The experts consulted on these results suggest that employers should respond to the desires of the workforce — who are willing to trade other benefits for telecommuting, and where 71% say  it is important when considering employment — but they should put together programs to counter the problems identified above, especially the first two considerations — security and VPN — which are largely in the control of the company. But it’s evident that telecommuting is highly desirable, and people are willing to sit at a kitchen table — if necessary — to be able to attain a greater degree of work/life balance and reduce stress.

 

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