Employers resist telecommunting

Telecommuting is gaining in popularity, with fuel costs making it extremely expensive for some employees to commute to work, yet most employers still discourage the practice full time.

According to CIO Insight Research’s Mobility Survey, 51 per cent of CIOs and other senior IT leaders surveyed say their companies discourage full time telecommuting.

An equal number of the 237 respondents—24 per cent each—say their firms encourage full time telecommuting or remain neutral.

And, soaring fuel prices will change worker habits, according to our survey takers. Half see more employees working from home.

Nearly one-quarter see a decrease in spending on domestic business travel vs. 17 per cent decline in spending on international business travel.

Business-technology leaders were surveyed between April 30 and May 20, a time when anxiety over higher petrol prices rocketed as fast as the cost of oil.

Indeed, a survey conducted by the online tech employment site Dice said one-third of IT pros would take up to a 10 per cent pay cut to telecommute.

According to Telework Exchange, a US public-private partnership that promotes telework, if white-collar employees who feel they could do their jobs from home began to telework twice a week, the United States could conserve 9.7 billion gallons of petrol and save $38.2 billion a year.

Telework Exchange based its calculations on an average roundtrip commute of 50 miles with the typical car getting 24 miles a gallon.

At the time of the survey, the average price of petrol in the US was $3.94 a gallon.

Despite reservations about full time telecommuting, our survey shows employers are more receptive to part-time telework.

Employers’ attitudes toward telecommuting from one to four days a week was evenly split among IT leaders, with one-third of respondents each encouraging, discouraging or remaining neutral about the practice.

When asked whether their companies’ overall stance toward full time telecommuting has changed in the past three years, 34 per cent say that it’s more positive vs. 8 per cent replying it was more negative.

As to part-time telecommuting, 46 per cent expressed a more favorable attitude while only 5 per cent say they were less favorable.

Though telecommuting would save employees with commuting costs, employers already spend more to support new telecommuters.

One-quarter of respondents say the use of outsourced help-desk services have modestly or significantly increased because of mobile technologies over the past three years.

That figure rose to 35 per cent in companies that encourage telecommuting.

Yet, reasons exist to give corporate executives pause to increase telecommuting.

One researcher shows the emergence of a lower morale among employees stuck working in the office while colleagues telecommuted.

And, as my colleague Brian Watson reports earlier this year, many telecommuters are less vigilant about how they use the Web.

“For example,” Watson wrote, “staggeringly high numbers of telecommuters worldwide said they open emails and attachments from unknown senders and use corporate resources for personal play, like online shopping and social networking.”

Still, with what feels as an unending increase in fuel costs, businesses may have little choice but to let more employees work from home.

Otherwise, as the Telework Exchange survey suggests, employees will seek other places, closer to home, to work.

Indeed, nearly three of 10 workers are already doing that.

Source: CIO Insight

And, nine of 10 said they’d limit job searchers due to commuting costs

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