Telecommuting Receives Mixed Reviews from Executives, Survey Shows

MENLO PARK, CA -- When it comes to permitting employees to work from home, executives are decidedly, well, undecided, suggests a new survey. While 36 percent of those polled see no difference in productivity levels between telecommuters and on-site workers, more than a quarter (26 percent) feel the arrangement can compromise job performance. Senior managers agreed overwhelmingly that the best candidates for telecommuting programs are staff-level employees.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm. The poll includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Executives surveyed were asked the following questions:
"In your opinion, are telecommuters more or less productive than employees who are working onsite at a company?"

Much more productive 4%
Somewhat more productive 17%
No difference 36%
Somewhat less productive 21%
Much less productive 5%
Don't know/no answer 17%

"At which of the following levels do you think telecommuting programs are most effective?"

Staff 63%
Administrative support 13%
Manager 11%
Executive 7%
Don't know/no answer 6%


Those surveyed were also asked about the commuting concerns of their staff. Nearly half (49 percent) said they feel their employees are more concerned today about commuting issues than five years ago. These executives said their firms are taking the following steps to respond to these concerns: (More than one response was permitted.)

Offering flextime/condensed work week 82%
Encouraging public transportation usage 53%
Offering telecommuting options to staff 46%
Developing company carpools 39%
Working to improve transportation options 37%
Moving the office 22%
Not taking any action 5%
Don't know/other 4%

"Flexible work options such as telecommuting can be effective recruitment and retention tools for staff-level employees, particularly in regions where traffic congestion is extending commute times," said Liz Hubler, executive director of OfficeTeam. "However, the arrangement must be appropriate to the business, the individual and the specific position. For supervisors and executives, for example, availability to direct reports, as well as for spur-of-the-moment meetings, may be necessary."

The results suggest that flextime and condensed work weeks may be more popular solutions for addressing the commuting concerns of employees. "Flextime enables professionals to adjust work schedules to avoid peak commute hours and balance work-family demands. These arrangements can be effective for a broader range of positions, particularly those jobs for which telecommuting may not be a viable option," Hubler said.

OfficeTeam has over 285 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.

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