The World of Work: Global Study of Online Employees Shows One in Five (17%) Work from Elsewhere

Telecommuting Seen to Keep Talented Women in the Workplace, Reduce Stress and Support Work-Life Balance

New York -- A new poll conducted by global research company Ipsos for Reuters News finds that one in five (17%) employees who can be connected online to their workplace report they `telecommute' on a `frequent basis': 7% say they `work every day from home which is remote or separate from their employers real office elsewhere' while another 10% say they do so `on a very consistent and constant basis like evenings and weekends.'

The term "telecommuting" is used to describe when an employee uses a stationary or portable computer to do their office work from a location outside of their office - either from their home or another location - either regularly or from time to time. These employees, often referred to as "telecommuters", have the flexibility of using telecommunications (such as email, phone, online chat) to communicate with colleagues in real time or do their work online from a remote location any time they wish--usually when they log in to their worksite--including evenings and weekends.

Ipsos surveyed a total of 11,383 online connected employees from 24 countries via online survey methodology between October 7 and 20, 2011.

A Feature of Emerging Markets...

Telecommuting is primarily taking place in emerging markets: those working in the Middle East and Africa (27%), Latin America (25%) and Asia-Pacific (24%) are considerably more likely than those in North America (9%) and Europe (9%) to telecommute `on a frequent basis.'

More specifically, employees in of India (56%), Indonesia (34%), Mexico (30%), Argentina (29%), South Africa (28%) and Turkey (27%) are most likely to be pursuing this form of employment. On the other end, those in Hungary (3%), Germany (5%), Sweden (6%), France (7%), Italy (7%) and Canada (8%) are least like to telecommute `on a frequent basis.'

Those with a high level of education are most likely to telecommute on a frequent basis (25%) followed by those under the age of 35 (20%) and those with a high household income (20%). Men (19%) are more likely than women (16%) to telecommute frequently.

Will the Trend Get Picked Up?

Globally, one third (34%) of those connected employees agree they would be `very likely' to take the option to telecommute on a full time basis from their home or other location if their employer offered them the opportunity. This sentiment is felt most strongly in the Middle East and Africa (49%), Latin America (45%) and Asia Pacific (33%). While the Western regions are softer on this measure, three in ten employees in Europe (31%) and one quarter of those in North America (26%), who do not currently telecommute on a frequent basis, report they are `very likely' to take the option if offered by their employer.

Online connected employees in Russia (54%) and South Africa (54%) exhibit the strongest support who do not currently telecommute on a frequent basis, report they are `very likely' to take the option if offered by their employer, followed by Argentina (53%), Mexico (44%) and Indonesia (44%). Softest support exists in Japan (12%), Sweden (16%), Great Britain (19%), Australia (20%) and Canada (21%). Two in ten (21%) connected employees around the world say they can't do this because their job requires them to be in the workplace at all times; those in the United States (38%), Canada (37%), Great Britain (37%), Sweden (36%) and Australia (31%) are most likely to feel this way.

Pros: More Women Working, Less Stress and Better Work-Life Balance...

A strong majority of employees in 24 countries `agree' equally (83% - 36% strongly, 47% somewhat) on two assessments of telecommuting: that it will keep talented women in the workforce instead of leaving temporarily or completely to raise children and that telecommuters have less stress due to less time spent in getting to their workplace.

  • Those most likely to `strongly agree' that telecommuting will keep talented women in the workforce are from Turkey (64%), Russia (62%), Poland (53%), Hungary (51%) and Indonesia (50%). Those in Sweden (14%), Canada (22%), South Korea (22%), Great Britain (24%), the United States (26%) and Japan (27%) are least likely to agree.
  • Six in ten (60%) in Russia strongly agree telecommuters have less stress as a result of less time spent getting to work, followed by Turkey (53%), Hungary (51%), Argentina (45%) and Mexico (45%). The Swedes (19%) are least likely to strongly agree, followed by Australia (21%), Great Britain (22%), the United States (24%) and China (25%).
  • Eight in ten (78%) `agree' (29% strongly, 49% somewhat) that employees who telecommute are better able to achieve balance between work and family. Citizens in Russia (47%), Spain (42%), Hungary (41%) and India (41%) are most likely to strongly agree; Sweden (13%), Japan (15%), South Korea (16%) and Great Britain are least likely.

But There's Some Hesitation...

Six in ten (62%) `agree' that not seeing colleagues face to face every day makes telecommuters feel socially isolated though only 15% `strongly agree' while 48% `somewhat agree'. Those most likely to strongly agree can be found in India (27%), Saudi Arabia (25%) and France (24%).

On two points, global citizens remain undecided: Half `agree' that working remotely damages the employee's chances for promotion (56% - 12% strongly, 44% somewhat) and that telecommuting creates more family conflict because it reduces the boundaries between work and family life (53% - 12% strongly, 41% somewhat). Those most likely to strongly agree that telecommuting damages chances for promotion live in Russia (27%), India (25%), and Turkey (21%), while those most likely to strongly agree it causes more family conflict live in India (32%), Saudi Arabia (18%) and Turkey (17%).

Are Telecommuters More Productive?

Two thirds (65%) respond that telecommuters are more productive because the flexibility allows them to work when they have the most focus and/or because having maximum control over the work environment and schedule leads to job satisfaction and happiness. The other third (35%) agree that telecommuters do not work as hard because there is less manager supervision and/or because of family and social distractions at home. Argentina (77%), Poland (75%), Hungary (74%), India (74%), Indonesia (74%) and Mexico (74%) are more likely to agree telecommuters are more productive than those who work in the office, while Japan (44%), South Korea (51%), Saudi Arabia (74%), Great Britain (56%) and Canada (56%) are least likely to agree.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Global @dvisor poll conducted between on behalf of Reuters News. The survey instrument is conducted monthly in 24 countries via the Ipsos Online Panel system. For this report, Ipsos surveyed a total of 11,383 online connected employees from 24 countries via online survey methodology between October 7 and 20, 2011.The countries reporting herein are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. The employee sample emerged from a screened sub group of an international sample of 18,682 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis with the exception of Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Russia and Turkey, where each have a sample of 500+. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points for a sample of 1,000 and an estimated margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points for a sample of 500 19 times out of 20 per country of what the results would have been had the entire population of the specifically aged adults in that country been polled.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Keren Gottfried Research Manager Ipsos Global Public Affairs 416.572.4481 [email protected]

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