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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Shop safely with our award-winning security solution. Protect yourself this Black Friday and get the exclusive Black Friday discount for Bitdefender 2019!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?