Even slow growth hits IT hard

Despite all the media attention telework enjoyed in 2001, new research from IDC and Cahners In-Stat/MDR show its growth is slowing.

In a report to be released later this month, IDC puts the number of US teleworkers in 2002 at 9.1 million, just a bit higher than the 8.9 million in 2001. With an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent, IDC predicts 9.9 million teleworkers by 2006.

Released last month, the Cahners report ("Working the Wide Area: Perceptions of Internet & Wireless-Access Applications among Mobile & Remote Workers") puts the number of teleworkers in firms with more than 100 workers at 11.8 million in 2001 and expects an 8.4 percent annual increase to reach 17.6 million by 2005.

The Cahners numbers are higher for a few reasons. The firm defines teleworkers as those who work at least two days per week at home, including day extenders (those who work at home after hours). IDC defines a teleworker as someone who works at least three days per month from home, and excludes day extenders. Moreover, Cahners zeroed in on business executives with IT buying power in companies of more than 100 employees. Of those, 344 worked for midsize firms, 416 for enterprise firms. IDC conducted a random telephone survey of 2,500 US households.

IDC's numbers reflect the general population and exclude day extenders, and they reveal more about what's going on in the "core" telework industry. So why the slowdown?

It seems in the long term, the down economy has affected companies attitudes about telework more so than the aftermath of Sept. 11. Overall, employers are less focused on employee recruitment and retention, perhaps even a bit less concerned about employees' needs and desires. Similarly, employees who had felt comfortable experimenting with flexible schedules when times were better, now stay in the office to maintain visibility and fear drawing negative attention by asking for "perks."

As important, tight budgets have forced companies to put plans for pilots and large-scale telework programs on hold. Instead, money is being stretched to bolster overall network security, and beef up security of existing mobile and remote infrastructures.

Last, the types of jobs doable from home remains finite. Even though new products are being developed to widen the circle - from Wideforce and some virtual call center applications - companies won't experiment with new applications until business gets better.

But is the glass half full or half empty? While the telework industry had hoped telework would take off like hotcakes this year, firms can't support it. What looks like flat growth to telework advocates (2.1 percent) is a big headache for network executives struggling to do more with less.

In a Cahners report released last year, more than one-third (37 percent) of the enterprise IT decision makers surveyed said teleworker IT needs are having a significant impact on IT spending. More than half (60 percent) said supporting home-based workers is increasingly difficult, and nearly three-fourths (71 percent) said they expect the number of teleworkers they support to grow year to year.

Respondents in enterprise firms said they allocate 7 percent of their IT budgets to teleworkers' technology (2 percent for full time and 8 percent for part time), or roughly US$16 billion. As telling, 62 percent said they want to remotely manage that technology.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Toni Kistner

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?