Could You Be a Virtual Office Worker?

LOS ANGELES—Could you be a virtual office worker? Can your employer trust you to work from a distance, even if yo you are both in Los Angeles, New York, Miami or whatever city you call home? Maybe you could, but there’s still a little bit of work to be done to overcome some misconceptions that unsupervised employees are unproductive employees.

According to a recent WorldatWork study, 80 percent of American employees would like to work from home. But the number of workers who work from a virtual office only adds up to about 2.8 million people, according to the Telework Research Network.

Still, the number is growing—the number grew more than 60 percent between 2005 and 2009, to be exact. And that number doesn’t take into account home-based businesses, many of which use virtual office technologies to get the job done. There were 3.1 million home-based business workers in 2008.

Charles Tran, founder of CreditDonkey.com, a consumer credit card comparison and education site that published an infographic tracking telecommuting trends, says part-time teleworkers include millions of mobile workers. At least 40% of the U.S. workforce (52 million people) hold jobs that could be done via a virtual office.

The typical teleworker is a college-educated 35- to 54-year-old, non-union employee working in telecommuting-compatible professions such as accounting, graphic design, engineering, computer programming, journalism/copywriting, administrative support or customer service.

“Despite the bottom-line benefits, it’s mostly the larger companies—those with 100-plus employees—that are hopping on the telework bandwagon,” says Tran. “In the long term, it’s inevitable that many more jobs will be done at home, but in the near term, the spirit is willing, but employer trust is weak.”


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