Business

One in Three U.S. Workers Have "Telecommuted" to Work

Public believes telecommuters just as productive as office workers

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual Work and Education Poll finds about one in three U.S. workers have telecommuted to their job at some time, with the average worker telecommuting two days each month. Telecommuters are somewhat more likely to telecommute outside of regular business hours than to log on during business hours instead of going to the office. A majority of Americans think that those who work at home are just as productive as those who go into the office, but those who have telecommuted are twice as likely to say telecommuters are more productive rather than less productive when they work from home.

The Aug. 7-10, 2006, poll finds that 32% of U.S. adults who are employed full or part time have telecommuted to work. That represents a sharp increase from 9% in 1995, when the same question was asked in a Gallup poll conducted for U.S. News and World Report and CNN.

The likelihood that one would telecommute to work increases with educational attainment. Fifty-seven percent of U.S. workers with post-graduate education say they have telecommuted, compared with 44% of those who hold a four-year college degree, 28% of those who attended college but did not finish, and just 15% of those who did not attend college.

Telecommuting allows people to work without going to the office, or to continue to work after they have left the office. The poll asked those who telecommute whether they are more likely to do so "after regular business hours or on the weekend in addition to going into the office" or do so "during regular business hours instead of going into the office." Half of telecommuters say they are more likely to do so to play "catch-up" after having worked in the office, while 40% are more likely to telecommute as an alternative to going to the office.

U.S. workers report working from home instead of going into the office two days per work month on average, while the average telecommuter does so six days per month. Only a small percentage of telecommuters, 12%, equivalent to 4% of all U.S. workers, would ordinarily not step foot in the office, saying they telecommute each of the 20 work days in a typical month. One in four telecommuters (and 7% of all U.S. workers) work remotely for the majority of each work month.

If there are 20 workdays in a typical month, about how many days out of 20 would you telecommute from home instead of going into the office?

All U.S. workers

Telecommuters

%

%

None

74

17

One-two

8

26

Three-five

7

22

Six-ten

2

8

11-15

2

7

16-19

1

4

20

4

12

No answer

1

3

Mean

2.0

6.3

Median

0

3

Worker Productivity

A key question for workers -- and particularly the companies that employ them -- is whether those who telecommute are as productive as those who trudge into work each day. On one hand, telecommuting allows workers to be more productive because they can accomplish work while away from the office while avoiding any distractions that might exist in the office, and also to spend time working instead of commuting to the office. On the other hand, the home environment may not always be as amenable to productive work time as the office setting.

Overall, 55% of Americans say that telecommuters are just as productive as those who work in a business office. They divide evenly as to whether telecommuters are more (20%) or less (18%) productive than those who work in a business office.

The 1995 U.S. News and World Report/CNN/Gallup poll asked the same question, and the results have changed only slightly. The greatest percentage of Americans (47%) said telecommuters were just as productive as office workers, but a larger percentage said telecommuters were more productive (28%) rather than less productive (18%).

In the current poll, telecommuters themselves are somewhat more positive about the productivity of people who telecommute. Forty-eight percent of those who have telecommuted say those who work from home are as productive as office workers, and 33% say telecommuters are more productive while only 15% say less productive.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,007 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 7-10, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For results based on the sample of 531 adults employed full or part time, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 188 workers who have telecommuted, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

16. Have you ever telecommuted, that is, worked from your home using a computer to communicate for your job?

BASED ON 531 ADULTS EMPLOYED FULL OR PART-TIME

Yes, have

No, have not

No opinion

2006 Aug 7-10

32%

68

*

1995 Oct 13-16 ^

9%

91

*

* Less than 0.5%

^ U.S. News and World Report/CNN/Gallup poll

17. Are you more likely to telecommute -- [ROTATED: during regular business hours instead of going into the office, (or more likely to telecommute) after regular business hours or on the weekend in addition to going into the office]?

BASED ON 188 WORKERS WHO HAVE TELECOMMUTED

During regular
business hours

After regular
business hours

NEITHER
(vol.)

No
opinion

2006 Aug 7-10

40%

50

7

3

18. If there are 20 workdays in a typical month, about how many days out of 20 would you telecommute from home instead of going into the office?

BASED ON 188 WORKERS WHO HAVE TELECOMMUTED

2006 Aug 7-10

%

None

17

One-five

48

Six-ten

8

Eleven-Fifteen

7

Sixteen-twenty

16

No answer

3

Mean

6.3

Median

3

19. Do you think people who work at home using their computers to connect to their business offices are more productive, less productive, or just as productive as people who work in a business office?

More
productive

Less
productive

Just as
productive

No
opinion

National Adults

2006 Aug 7-10

20

18

55

7

1995 Oct 13-16 ^

28

18

47

7

Telecommuters

2006 Aug 7-10

33

15

48

4

^ U.S. News and World Report/CNN/Gallup poll

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/24181/One-Three-US-Workers-Telecommuted-Work.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030