Telecommuting: The next employee benefit battleground?

While most believe telecommuters are productive, almost three-in-ten say they "goof off"

Mar 14, 2013, 12:45 ET from ORC International

PRINCETON, N.J., March 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- New research from global market research firm, ORC International shows that 65% of Americans believe that telecommuters are actually productive when working from home, but not all Americans are convinced – 29% say telecommuters are mostly "goofing off" when at home.

Sparked by Yahoo! and Best Buy's move to halt the telecommuting option for employees with the hopes of sparking innovation, teamwork and revenues, the survey also shows that the majority of Americans are willing to give companies that stop offering the telecommuting option the benefit of the doubt.  By a 51% to 41% margin, most Americans believe that if a company stops allowing their employees to telecommute, it is because there is a legitimate reason to do so and the business will run better as a result.

Business reasons aside, there are clearly perceived benefits to telecommuting among the public.   Overall, more than four-in-ten (43%) say that people who telecommute have a better "work-life" balance versus only 19% who say that balance is worse for telecommuters.  Additionally, more than half (51%) of those who say they are currently full-time employed believe telecommuters have a better work-life balance.

"Employees are inter-mixing work and personal life – accelerating the end of the traditional 9 to 5 office job. For many employees, having the option to telecommute gives more flexibility and a better work-life balance," says Matt Roddan, head of ORC International's US Employee Research practice. "However, it is vitally important for managers to set protocols to ensure continuous productivity, and to establish open and regular lines of communication in order to manage a telecommuting workforce effectively."

"Striking a work-life balance is crucial for many employees today. With technology enabling connectivity from anywhere in the world, employees now have more flexibility than ever. But businesses need to be cautious- while having a telecommuting workforce can help reduce overhead costs associated with brick and mortar operations and also help with attracting talent, it might not be right for every business," added Jeff Resnick, Global Managing Director at ORC International. "Business cycles often dictate different workforce strategies.  Until the day that virtual meetings and employee interactions are as second nature as physical ones, there may be a need to have employees rub elbows in the real world.  Getting employees aligned to achieve corporate goals can be tricky.  Sometimes the water cooler plays a pivotal role," he added.

About the survey
ORC International's CARAVAN® Omnibus survey involved interviews with 1,007 adult Americans conducted by telephone on March 7-10, 2013.  The sample includes 657 interviews among landline respondents and 350 interviews among cell phone respondents.  All respondents were asked questions concerning basic demographics, and the entire sample was weighted to reflect national Census figures for gender, race, age, education, and region of country.

CNN released the results exclusively today- click here.

For a full report of the findings- click here.

About ORC International
ORC International is a leading global research firm with offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific. We offer a platform of integrated intelligence that combines traditional and forward-thinking methodologies, technology, deep industry expertise, and advanced analytics to provide clients with the most comprehensive foundation for actionable insight to solve their most pressing business challenges worldwide. The company has been a partner of CNN on the CNN|ORC International poll since 2006, a founding member of the CASRO and a partner of NYSE Euronext on its Annual CEO Report for the past 7 years. To learn more about ORC International, visit our website.

ORC International Contact:
Christina Hungspruke
Senior Director, Corporate Marketing
Phone: 609.452.5419

SOURCE ORC International