MENLO PARK, Calif., July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The proliferation of
wireless technologies and feature-rich Internet applications is making it
easier for information technology (IT) professionals to work outside of the
office. A new study by Robert Half Technology shows that telecommuting is
becoming more commonplace among IT professionals. Nearly half (44 percent)
of chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed said their companies' IT
workforce is telecommuting at a rate that is the same or higher than five
years ago; only 3 percent said IT staff work remotely less frequently today
than five years ago (see table 1). Improved retention and morale, and
increased productivity were cited as the greatest benefits among firms that
The national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a
stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. It
was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half
Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a
project and full-time basis.
"Enhanced connectivity tools provide IT professionals greater
flexibility and the option to work even when they are away from the
office," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half
Technology. "Consequently, working remotely is more commonplace today and
Telecommuting Attitudes Explored
34 percent of CIOs whose companies allow telecommuting cited improved
retention and morale through enhanced work/life balance as the greatest
benefit. Increased productivity due to reduced commute time was cited by 28
percent of respondents (see table 2).
"For some, working from home on occasion can result in greater
productivity because there are fewer interruptions than in the office," Lee
said. "Many IT professionals also appreciate not having to commute every
day given today's high gasoline prices."
Companies may need to balance the desire of staff to work remotely
against the expectation of accessibility, however. Indeed, survey
respondents indicated that telecommuting programs can have drawbacks.
Nearly half (44 percent) of all CIOs surveyed felt that quality of work
suffers due to diminished in-person contact with colleagues (see table 3A).
Furthermore, nearly one in three (30 percent) CIOs surveyed felt that
telecommuting employees are not as productive because they have less
oversight (see table 3B).
"Telecommuting isn't a viable option for every type of employee in
every scenario," Lee commented. "Managers who need face-to-face interaction
with staff, or individuals who meet frequently with clients, for example,
may find that working from home hampers their ability to build strong
Implementing Telecommuting Programs
While telecommuting can benefit employers and employees alike, it's
important that companies have the appropriate infrastructure in place to
facilitate staff working remotely. For example, nearly a third of CIOs (31
percent) surveyed felt that telecommuting employees generate too many
security risks because they need to access elements such as corporate
networks, systems and intellectual property off-site (see table 3C).
Clearly communicating guidelines about telecommuting also is necessary.
Lee noted, "It's important that employers set expectations up front about
who can telecommute and how often they can do so, in order to avoid
misunderstandings that might arise during a project."
To help ensure a successful telecommuting program, Lee suggests
employers consider the following questions:
-- What IT jobs are best suited for telecommuting? Alternative work
arrangements are most suitable for individuals whose jobs can be
performed with relative autonomy.
-- How frequently should IT employees be allowed to work remotely?
Consider allowing employees to work from home one day a week, and try
to schedule weekly meetings on days employees are on-site to provide
-- How will you ensure effective communication between team members?
Keeping a schedule of workers' on-site availability, and where and how
they can be reached when off-site, can keep work flowing smoothly.
With more than 100 locations in North America, Europe and Asia, Robert
Half Technology is a leading provider of technology professionals for
initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems
integration to network security and technical support. Robert Half
Technology offers online job search services at http://www.rht.com.
Note to editor: Research findings and full-color survey charts are
available at http://www.rht.com/pressroom.
Robert Half Technology Telecommuting Survey Findings
CIOs were asked, "Which of the following statements best applies to your
company's IT workforce?"
A higher proportion of your IT workers telecommute
today than five years ago 21%
The same proportion telecommute today as did five
years ago 23%
A lower proportion of your IT workers telecommute today 3%
Not applicable, you do not allow your IT workforce to
Other/don't know 2%
Respondents whose IT workers telecommute also were asked, "Which of the
following is the greatest benefit to your firm?"
Improves retention and morale of IT workforce through
enhanced work/life balance 34%
Increases productivity of IT workforce by reducing commute
Saves money by requiring less office space 12%
Allows hiring of employees in lower cost-of-living areas
who don't require high salaries 6%
Don't know 16%
CIOs were asked, "Do you agree or disagree with the following statements
about telecommuting, as they apply to your company?"
Disagree Agree know
A. The quality of work suffers due to less
face-to-face contact with colleagues 48% 44% 8%
B. Telecommuting employees have little oversight,
which makes them less productive 60% 30% 10%
C. Telecommuting employees generate too many
security concerns 62% 31% 7%
SOURCE Robert Half Technology