Trend toward telecommuting continues

Perhaps unsurprisingly, increasing numbers of Americans are choosing to telecommute, according to a report issued last week.

The number of employees in the US who work outside of the office via phone and e-mail has jumped nearly 17 percent - to 28.8 million - in the past year, according to the annual survey by the International Telework Association and Council (ITAC). The surveyors use the term "telework" to encompass work done from home or from other designated sites away from the office.

The research did not take into account post-Sept. 11 jumps in telework, although ITAC says interest appears to have edged up following the terrorist attacks. Other key findings:

• The most common form of work via phone is done from the road (24 percent). Nearly 22 percent telecommute from home, and a smaller percentage work at "telework centers" (7.5 percent) or at satellite offices (4.2 percent).

• A large majority (80 percent) of those who work away from the office feel a greater commitment to their organizations, and most say they plan to remain with their employers.

• Nearly three-quarters of those who regularly work from home reported a major increase in their productivity and perceived work quality.

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