The office as we know it is no longer the office we’ve come to know. Constantly changing, it no longer means three walls, a desk and a leather-back chair (if you’re lucky). Nowadays, the office is no more than where you’ve grounded your computer for the moment, whether it’s in the bedroom, the living room, your car or even an airplane.

This transformation from the office to the home is at the heart of telecommuting. The trend will be further fueled by the coming ubiquity of the Internet, improved technologies for communicating and fundamental changes in the nature of work, according to American Demographics Magazine.

Look around the typical downtown office and you'll find something missing – workers. Once a mecca for 9-to-5ers, today’s office buildings are slimming and trimming as more and more workers opt to work partially or fully from their homes. Take a look at these numbers:

The number of telecommuters has increased 30 percent in the last year, reaching 6.88 million in total, according to InfoBeads’ Technology User Profile Study.
American Demographics magazine predicts that by 2005, at least 25 percent of the American workforce will be telecommuters or home office workers.
The LA Times estimates that 18 million telecommuters will have worked from home at least once per month in 1999.
Two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies currently have telecommuting programs, half of which were instituted in the past two years. Nearly 60 percent of executives from companies without programs expect to institute one within the next three years, according to TELEWORKanalytics International, Inc.

Clearly telecommuting is growing and improvements in telecommunication services are making telecommuting a viable and attractive option for employees and employers alike. Ease of access over the Internet and its use as a collaborative vehicle make teleworking less of a concept and more of a possibility for workers.

Here are some reasons why people are jumping on the telework bandwagon:

Increased Productivity
How much time do you spend commuting back and forth to work – sitting in traffic, squished in crowded buses and trains, circling for that perfect parking spot? You might want to reconsider and stay home. The Gartner Group estimates that telecommuting improves employee productivity by 10 to 40 percent. Here’s how:

1) First of all, take that headache commute and apply it towards actual work. By some estimates, up to half of the commuting hours saved by telecommuting employees may be given directly back to the company. Also, forget about starting late due to travel difficulties such as traffic accidents, flat tires and tardy trains.

2) Telecommuters also take off less time because of illness. Employees who don’t feel well enough to commute might be able to work from home, or employees recovering from serious illness might be able to work at home during recuperative periods.

3) Finally, telecommuting employees can more easily cope with personal family matters. It’s easier to make arrangements to cover school closings, care for minor family illness, make household repairs and wait for services by outside contractors when working from home.

For workers, telework means freedom and flexibility. Today’s workers demand these things and the responsive employer who’s looking to attract and retain top talent provides a teleworking program.

According to American Demographics Magazine, teleworkers can increase their number of free hours in a day, even if they end up working longer hours overall. This improved work/life balance raises employee morale and reduces stress. In fact, a recent study of 250 workers by the International Telework Association & Council showed that 75 percent of telecommuters experienced decreased levels of stress since working from home.

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