Telework gaining steam, report says

Monday - 7/11/2011, 6:55am EDT

Telework is growing faster in the federal government than any other sector of the American workforce. From 2005 - 2009, the number of federal employees working at home grew over 400 percent. That's one of the findings from the new State of Telework in the U.S. report conducted by the Telework Research Network.

According to the report, 3.2 percent of federal employees were teleworking by 2009, up from just 0.7 percent in 2005. However, that's just a fraction of the number of feds able to telework, according to the data.

"By the government's own count, while 61 percent of the two-million federal workers were considered eligible for telework, only about 100,000, or 5.2 percent, of them did."

Of the 2.9 million Americans telecommuting in 2009, over 153,000 of them were federal employees. While the number of federal workers teleworking may be growing, they represent only 5.2 percent of the total number of teleworkers in the U.S.

And while the number of teleworkers may seem high, the report says many more are eligible.

"50 million U.S. employees who want to work from home hold jobs that are telework compatible."

Overall, teleworking grew 61 percent between 2005 and 2009 according to the report. Assuming no growth acceleration, the group estimates by 2016 there will be 4.9 million teleworkers in the U.S. "Management fear and mistrust" is seen as one of the biggest barriers to growing this number.

One of the biggest benefits the group sees to more telework , is the reduction in gas consumption. Those who telework now help save 390 million gallons a year.

The report was put together using government data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as information from a WorldatWork special report. Only employees who worked at home or away from the office, and were not self-employed, were examined for this report.