• United States

Attitudes about telework are changing

Mar 11, 20033 mins

* Survey finds training is up, but cost savings continue to go unrealized

Changes in the telework industry tend to be subtle and a little tough to read. That’s why this year’s Workplace Trends survey from Kinetic Workplace feels like a gift.  The results in three areas are markedly different from last year’s.  

 Granted, the survey is pretty unscientific. Kinetic, which provides telework, hoteling and virtual office consulting services, offers visitors a newsletter of telework and hoteling related articles. Kinetic sent the survey of 24 multiple choice questions out to its user list,  and got back 286 responses.  Of the respondents-Kinetic clients and interested others-20% hail from the business services/consulting field,  13% from the Federal government, 10% from insurance, real estate and legal sectors, and 6% each from manufacturing, computer equipment and telecommunications firms.  Thirty-seven percent came from firms with fewer than 500 employees; 27% from firms with 10,000 or more.

 Kinetic counts some pretty big names as clients, such as Proctor & Gamble, Deloitte & Touche, Sprint, and KPMG-firms that don’t typically publicize their telework and hoteling programs-making the results all the more telling. 

 First, the number of formal telework programs grew significantly from last year.  Firms that either have or are in the process of developing a formal program rose to 50% in 2002, up from 38% in 2001.  Of respondents whose firms don’t have a formal program, 32% cite the existence of an informal program that meets the company’s needs, and 15% cite lack of senior management support. 

Second, the number of firms providing telework training in conjunction with their programs jumped to 53% in 2002, from 38% in 2001. Of firms offering training, 55% make participation mandatory. The top three training areas include remote access technology, home office ergonomics and set up, and remote management skills. 

 Third, this year’s survey revealed changes in what drives firms to adopt telework. Real estate savings and cost avoidance was cited as the biggest reason by 62% of respondents, while work/life balance and recruitment and retention trailed with 16% and 13% respectively.  In contrast, last year, the top drivers were improved employee satisfaction (62%) and improved recruiting and retention (15%). Real estate cost savings came in last. 

 Also telling: In 2002, only 19% of respondents said they’ve realized measurable real estate cost savings from their programs, down from 21% in 2001. The probable cause is the lack of a hoteling piece. If you haven’t begun doubling up on desks, you can’t save money on facilities. 

 When asked if firms plan to implement a hoteling program in conjunction with telework,  23% of respondents said they already have one; 35% said they are considering it; 15% said they would not. 

Whether your firm offers telework training is almost incidental. If you want to save bottom line dollars, you need hoteling, plain and simple.  That said, next week, we’ll look at some telework training options and discuss whether training is even necessary at all.