I'm totally swamped today, so I'm saved by former EBN Managing Editor Leah Shepherd, who writes on the newest stats surrounding telework.

As telework becomes more mainstream, more than half of employers are offering it in some form, a new study from WorldatWork shows.

Eighty-three percent of employers allow teleworking on an ad hoc basis, while 58% offer telework at least one day per month, and 57% offer telework at least one day per week. About 37% of employers allow full-time teleworking, the study finds.

"Telework on a regular or full-time basis might be even more common if not for certain obstacles getting in the way of telework for many," says Alison Avalos, a research manager for WorldatWork.

"Nearly four in every 10 surveyed organizations say that resistance from top management and/or the lack of jobs conducive to these arrangements are keeping them from offering all types of telework programs," Avalos explains.

The prevalence of telework varies by industry, type of employer and size of employer. Large firms typically offer more workplace flexibility than small businesses. Fifty-five percent of employers with fewer than 100 workers offered telework at least one day per month, compared to 73% of employers with 20,000 or more workers.

On average, employers with fewer than 100 workers offered 5.8 workplace flexibility programs, while those with 20,000 or more workers offered 7.3 workplace flexibility programs.

Publicly traded companies (64%) and nonprofit organizations (66%) are more likely to offer telework at least one day per month, compared to privately held companies (58%) and public employers (47%).

Employers that allow teleworking often highlight it as a recruiting tool. Additionally, employers with an established culture of flexibility have lower voluntary turnover rates, the study shows.

Telework seems to be gaining momentum in the federal government. In December, Congress passed a law requiring each federal agency to designate a Telework Managing Officer who will develop and implement a telework policy.

Only 5.7% of all federal employees teleworked in 2009, up slightly from 5.2% in 2008, according to a recent report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Federal employees who telework report higher job satisfaction (76%) than those who are not permitted to telework (68%).

Federal employees who telework are more likely to recommend their organization as a good place to work (75%), compared to those who don’t (66%). Teleworkers also are less likely to say they intend to leave their current organization, the report states.

OPM Director John Berry comments, "The new telework law and this report reinforce that increasing the strategic use of telework will help the federal government improve resiliency and achieve continuity of operations in emergencies, reduce management costs and help our employees to manage their own work and life obligations."

"Telework is an invaluable asset to the federal government," says Cindy Auten, general manager for Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership that promotes telework. "It is a readily available productivity tool for employees, it saves agencies money, and finally, it helps to protect the environment."

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