About one in five workers worldwide telecommute: poll

NEW YORK Wed Jan 25, 2012 6:43pm IST

Cars drive along a main road in central Beijing January 12, 2012. Car sales in China climbed 5.2 percent in 2011, the slowest pace since the nation's car culture took off at the turn of the century, as consumers shunned local brands after Beijing scrapped tax incentives for small cars. REUTERS/David Gray

Cars drive along a main road in central Beijing January 12, 2012. Car sales in China climbed 5.2 percent in 2011, the slowest pace since the nation's car culture took off at the turn of the century, as consumers shunned local brands after Beijing scrapped tax incentives for small cars.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - About one in five workers around the globe, particularly employees in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day, according to a new Ipsos/Reuters poll.

Telecommuting is particularly popular in India where more than half of workers were most likely to be toiling from home, followed by 34 percent in Indonesia, 30 percent in Mexico and slightly less in Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.

But the job option is the least popular in Hungary, Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Canada, where less than 10 percent of people work from home.

"It is really a story about the emerging markets and I am not sure if that is because the West is about to pick up the trend. They are definitely still skeptical," said Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs, which conducted the survey.

"But they see a lot of advantages. Europe and North America agree that telecommuting is a great way to retain women. It provides less stress because of less commuting and provides a better work-life balance," she added in an interview.

PRODUCTIVITY, ISOLATION, CHANCES OF PROMOTION

Telecommuting refers to employees who work remotely from their office, communicating by email, phone or online chats, either daily or occasionally.

Advances in technology and communications have enabled people to work effectively and efficiently without being constantly at their desks in the company office.

It is a trend that has grown and one which looks like it will continue with 34 percent of connected workers saying they would be very likely to telecommute on a full-time basis if they could.

More than half of people in Russia, South Africa and Argentina said they would work remotely often if given the opportunity, while employees in Japan, Sweden, Great Britain, Australia and Canada were the least enthusiastic about telecommuting.

Twenty one percent of connected people globally said it wasn't a possibility for them because their job requires them to be in the workplace all the time.

Most people, 65 percent, around the globe thought telecommuters were productive because the flexibility enabled them to have more control over their work life.

"If gives you the opportunity to work when you are most productive," Gottfried explained. "You are working when you know

you are best able to get the work done."

Despite the obvious benefits of telecommuting, 62 percent of people said they found it socially isolating and half thought that the daily lack of face-to-face contact could harm their chances of a promotion.

And 53 percent believe working from home can increase family conflict because of the blurred boundaries between work and private time.

Concerns about the impact on family were strong in India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Residents in Saudi Arabia and Turkey were also most likely to worry about the impact working from home would have on chances for promotion.

Ipsos questioned 11,383 people in online poll in 24 countries including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Paul Casciato)

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