U.S. Lagging in Telecommuting Despite Enabling Technology Availability

Aug. 29, 2007
Dimension Data study cites employee retention, not productivity, as motivator for flexible work environment

Solutions and services provider Dimension Data recently announced survey results showing U.S. companies are significantly lagging behind their European and Australian counterparts when it comes to adopting and implementing flexible work environments. However, the U.S. scored highest among all regions in the adoption of unified communications, scoring 8.5 out of 10 on the unified communications adoption and maturity index. Unified communications is considered a key driver behind enabling flexible work environments, which are defined as work arrangements in which employees can telecommute, work from home or even work while traveling.

The study, commissioned by Dimension Data, included more than 524 workers and 390 IT managers, across several industries. The survey was designed to benchmark various aspects of the unified communications market. Unified communications enables richer interaction by integrating most forms of communication (voice, e-mail, fax, instant messaging and video) through a single interface. Findings indicated the following regarding flexible work environments in the U.S.:

Only 55% of U.S. companies surveyed offer fully supported flexible working environments, compared with much higher adoption rates in other regions such as France (75% of companies) and Switzerland (73% of companies). The U.S. had the lowest percentage when compared with Australia and all European regions that were surveyed.

In the U.S., companies generally either offer flexible work environments with full IT support, or they don't offer it at all. Organizations in other regions were more likely to offer a flexi-work environment regardless of IT support. Only 5% of U.S. companies offer unsupported flexible work environments, while companies in the United Kingdom and France offer unsupported flex environments in 15% percent of cases.

More than 50% of respondents believe that a fully flexible work environment will be routinely used in the market within five years. For the near term, IT managers and workers agree that click-to-dial from the desktop, presence and VoIP telephony will be routinely used in the corporate environment within two years.

Unlike the U.S., companies across Europe and in Australia cited "increasing employee productivity" as the key driver behind the adoption of a flexible work environment. The U.S., however, cited "employee retention" as the biggest motivator for implementing a flex-work environment (23% of companies surveyed). More than 55% of companies in Australia and France cited "increasing employee productivity" as the biggest motivator.

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