Telework Now Offered by 88 Percent of Organizations

Mobility increasing at most workplaces, despite a few visible defectors, including HP, Best Buy and Yahoo!

The latest casualty for telework occurred earlier this month, when tech giant Hewlett Packard followed companies like Yahoo! and Best Buy in a decision to scale back its telework program. HP’s move to reign in the flexible work option is perhaps most intersting considering they have touted telework’s benefits in the past, in large part to help sell their products to the ever-growing mobile workforce.

While efforts by these companies have certainly been high profile, a new study suggests that that these companies are in the minority. A report released by WorldatWork on Tuesday, in conjunction with National Flex Day and National Work and Family Month, found that telework in some form is currently offered by 88 percent of organizations. Only 3 percent of companies -- including Yahoo! and HP -- have actually canceled telework programs over the past two years, the analysis found.

There are differences in the ways organizations and employees use telework, however. Telework on an ad-hoc basis, for example, was the most common (83 percent), while telework on a full-time basis was only offered by 34 percent of organizations. Just more than half of organizations offer the flexible work option on a regular monthly (56 percent) or weekly (52 percent) basis.

Most organizations also continue to believe telework and flexible work options like flex time and part-time schedules are yielding positive results, particularly in areas like employee satisfaction (73 percent), employee motivation (65 percent) and employee engagement (64 percent).

Interestingly, while countless studies have correlated telework with an increase in employee productivity, more than half of managers (53 percent) in the WorldatWork survey said they found it difficult to estimate the productivity of teleworking employees. Thirty-six percent said their teleworking employees are equally as productive as their in-office counterparts.

For the public sector specifically, telework, flex time and part-time schedules continue to be some of the most popular flexible benefits offered. Part-time schedules are the most popular (85 percent), followed by flex time (82 percent), and ad-hoc telework (78 percent). Frequent telework remains less common, with public sector organizations offering it on a monthly (42 percent), weekly (45 percent) and full-time (25 percent) basis.

“It appears [flexibility programs] work best in those organizations where the concept of flexibility is part of the organization’s culture and where employees feel free to request flexibility as needed,” said Rose Stanley, practice leader for benefits, work life, flexibility and recognition at WorldatWork. The survey highlights that while many organizations are utilizing one or more flexibility programs, significant improvements still need to be made in terms of training managers who supervise employees with flexible work arrangements.”