DoL Issues Teleworking Report

January 12, 2001 ( - Expanding telecommuting could improve productivity - and help workers better balance work and family demands, according to a report just released from the Department of Labor.

The study indicates that teleworkers save employers up to $10,000/year in reduced absenteeism/office space costs. There are currently between 13-19 million workers (both full and part time) who work from home.

The Department of Labor compiled the results of a dozen different studies on the “evolution and economics of telework.”

Employer, Employee Benefits

The benefits of teleworking extend to both employers and employees, according to one study.  The employee enjoys:

  • flexible work schedule
  • decreased commuting time loss
  • increase in quality of life

One study noted that the availability of telework helps disabled workers, caregivers and rural residents obtain and retain employment, but may come at the cost of increased social isolation.

For the employer:

  • greater ability to attract employees, particularly high tech workers
  • enhanced retention of existing employees
  • increased productivity – longer hours and more workdays
  • lower facility costs
  • expanded labor pool access to geographically distant workers

Barriers to Implementation

However, the studies found significant barriers to the adoption of telework, including:

  • “industrial management” mindset
  • a lack of understanding of the financial advantages of telework
  • many employers still view telework as cost-prohibitive
  • policy issues influencing the adoption – such as tax incentives – remain unresolved

One study suggests that the processes that allow telework to be effective also raises questions about the role – and future – of managers, which may explain some of the resistance to teleworking,

Key challenges lie in defining work – and workers – suitable for telework, as well as establishing appropriate productivity measures.

You can find a copy of the report at .