Has Telework Growth Slowed?

The latest research from the Telework Research Network indicates that while telework is growing, it’s not increasing at the pace we might have expected. According to 2009 U.S. Census data, 61 percent more employees considered home their primary place of work versus 2005. But that number translates to only 2.3 percent of the total workforce.

When compared with a recent report from WorldatWork, which indicates that the overall number of teleworkers declined between 2008 and 2010, a trend emerges. The frequency of telework has increased, meaning fewer workshifters are doing more flexible work.

Here at Workshifting, we were curious to test this trend, so we decided to post our own independent poll on the subject. The results of our completely unofficial Facebook survey are below:

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Interestingly enough, there’s some alignment with the trend. Fewer people are workshifting, but those who are have seen an increased workload. This poses some thought-provoking questions:

Do people really want to workshift?
Maybe as attractive as telework sounds, it’s not for everyone.

Have companies been able to quantify the costs and benefits?
There are some obvious advantages to telework, but if businesses haven’t been able to attach a dollar sign to them, then workshifting may still be considered a “nice to have” versus a “cost-effective solution”.

Are enough tools and resources available to support the workshifting lifestyle?
Working remotely is certainly not as easy as it looks. Or, do we have too many tools and not enough time to sort through them all?

Have businesses figured out how to manage people they can’t see?
This might sound crazy, but a huge component of telework is holding employees accountable for results instead of time worked. Is it possible the only people workshifting are the ones who can hold themselves accountable when businesses can not?

While this blog focuses on the positives of telework, it is essential to look at both sides of the spectrum. Adding workshifting to your workplace can bring valuable and tangible benefits, but if done incorrectly, it can have the opposite result.

Identifying the keys to successful workshifting is crucial, because it creates a proven, effective solution for businesses and determines issues ahead of time that can block an effective implementation.

What do you see as the key components to a successful telework program?