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Telecommuting surge: 5 million new home-based offices by 2015

Posting in Energy

A resurgent economy and new technologies are swelling the ranks of home-based businesses and corporate telecommuters.

Thanks to technology, a resurgent economy, energy concerns, and entrepreneurial yearnings, home-based businesses and corporate telecommuting have become the new way of life.  Now, International Data Corporation predicts that within the next four years, the home office market will add nearly two million home-based businesses and more than three million corporate home office households.

The rise of telecommuting still tethered to corporate employers will be a direct result of a better economy, IDC says: "Telecommuting continues to be an economic bellwether — when times are tough, many return to the corporate office, giving up potential productivity gains for closer daily contact with colleagues and supervisors."

Improving economic conditions will lead to a net annual increase of approximately 180,000 telecommuters each year through 2015, IDC says. These will be employees working from home during normal business hours, versus employees who take work home from traditional jobs after normal business hours. Along these lines, IDC says the need to be more productive is translating into extended workdays for professionals, and the number of home office households used by corporate employees to work outside of normal business hours will surpass 27 million at the end of 2015.

There are a lot of wins that accompany the rise of home-based offices. As SmartPlanet colleague Ami Cholia reports, The Mobility Choice estimates that about 5.2 million people telecommute, and the average telecommuter saves 40.6 gallons of oil per year by telecommuting just twice per month.

The US federal government also is pressing ahead with telecommuting for its workforce, with a mandate to enable all qualified employees and managers to telecommute as soon as possible. Approximately five percent of the federal workforce telecommutes, according to latest estimates.

In terms of technology tools, IDC says PCs will remain central to home worker productivity, and that smartphones are on the rise as well.

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure