Those who wish to find an unimpeachable estimate of the telecommuters in the US these days have a problem. For example, my own forecast of the number of US teleworkers (mostly telecommuters) in the US at the end of 2014 says that they will constitute 30% of the workforce (40+ million teleworkers) and account for reducing vehicle travel by 140 billion miles over what would happen without telecommuting. On the other hand, the National Study of Employers run by the Family and Work Institute claims that “today more employers are providing occasional telecommuting (67%) for at least some employees than in 2008 (50%).” On the third hand, Top Management Degrees claims that there will be 3.9 million teleworkers in the US by 2016 — an order of magnitude less than my forecast for 2014.
So which, if any, of these estimates is right? The answer is: it depends.
Continue reading How many telecommuters are there now?
Recently the New York Times ran an OpEd piece on the changes in urban sprawl, particularly suburban sprawl. The Times also asked for comments on the work-at-home aspects of sprawl. Here are my slightly expanded comments [not published by the Times because of length or . . . ].
The suburban sprawl (or not) trend is indeed a mixed bag. While some home owners, or prospective homeowners, may be moving to newly vacant homes in the suburbs, others are moving back into the city to occupy former office space converted to residences. Part of this is a result of the growing disconnect between where one works and where one lives. Just a few years ago the flight to the suburbs was driven by escalating land prices in the central cities; home-owning hopefuls went for affordable housing even at the price of long commutes to offices in the central cities. For many those commutes have since become telecommutes. Continue reading Urban sprawl revisited: the suburbs
I’m writing this as Hurricane Sandy is drenching and/or flooding the East Coast of the United States. It’s an appropriate time to wonder why, just a week before the vote in this very heated and close presidential campaign, neither of the contenders has mentioned climate change in any recent speeches or debates. Well that’s not exactly the case, Pres. Obama did discuss climate change in a recent interview by Sway Calloway, a reporter from MTV.
Still, I should point out that most reference to the problems of climate change by either contender have been indirect at best. Pres. Obama explains that this is simply because no one has asked him about climate change in any of the recent debates. Governor Romney, on the other hand, seems to feel that the human-engendered part of climate change is a hoax perpetrated by liberals meaning to somehow penalize the coal and oil industries. Continue reading Sandy, climate change, politics and telecommuting
We’ve been hinting at it for years but now there’s a study that claims that telecommuters are more ethical than their in-office colleagues. I was alerted to the study by an article on the GigaOm website titled: How to make your team more ethical: Let them telecommute. One of the three key findings in the 17 August 2011 report by Ethisphere was:
Sixty-eight percent of responding companies allow their employees to work from home on a regular basis. Of those, 89 percent reported having no ethics violations during the past two years among their work-from-home employees.
Although the overall study was focused on the impact of open offices on ethics, this was an interesting result. Ethisphere surveyed more than 200 companies to arrive at their conclusion. Two primary factors in this ethical superiority of home-based workers were, according to Ethisphere (I’m paraphrasing a little):
- Lower levels of temptation as a consequence of less frequent mischief opportunities away form the office; and
- Greater concern that any straying from the path of righteousness might end in a call to come back to the dreaded office.
That is: “If I do my job and don’t screw up I can keep on working like this, feeling more in control of my life and, wonderfully, avoid those grinding commutes!”
Sounds good to me.
At fairly regular intervals I get questions from the media like: “Whatever happened to the great surge in telecommuting that was predicted back in 19xx (or 20xx)?” The reporter usually hadn’t seen any recent stories about telecommuting and therefore (while imagining the headline) leapt to the conclusion that “telecommuting is dead!”
Telecommuting isn’t dead. It’s alive and well, if stealthy.
As a very recent indicator I was listening to NPR this morning as the reporter in Manhattan was describing the return to work of exurban-dwelling workers after the onslaught of Hurricane Irene. The reporter’s words were to the effect that workers seemed to be arriving by bus or car as usual or “maybe they’re telecommuting” (as an explanation of the lower than usual numbers of arrivals). An indication that disaster planning efforts that included telecommuting might actually be in effect in many companies (see some of my earlier blogs to that effect). But who’s counting?
I have also had conversations over the past few years with employees of large corporations on the topic of telecommuting, both formal and informal (stealth). The general telecommuting implementation scenario goes: Continue reading Stealth Telecommuting