Teleworking At Bt


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Teleworking At Bt

  1. 1. TELEWORKING AT BT - The Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of its workabout Scheme Report on Survey Results 14/10/2002 Dr. Peter Hopkinson, Professor Peter James and Takao Maruyama University of Bradford SustainIT Department of Environmental Science, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP Tel: +44 (0)1274 235393 E-mail: SustainIT is a unit of the UK Centre for Economic and Environmental Development, Suite 1, Priestgate House, 3/7 Priestgate, Peterborough PE1 1JN Tel: +44 (0)1733 311644
  2. 2. Contents Highlights ......................................................................................................................3 Teleworking is Generally Positive for BT Staff and Society as a Whole ............3 Teleworking Increases Productivity and Reduces Absenteeism – But Also Increases Working Hours........................................................................................4 Teleworking Reduces Travel – But Not Always ...................................................4 Some Questions Remain Unanswered....................................................................5 Introduction...................................................................................................................6 1. Typology of Teleworkers...........................................................................................7 2. Social and Personal Impacts ....................................................................................9 2.1 Teleworking and Quality of Life ......................................................................9 2.2 Motivations to, and Concerns about, Telework ............................................15 2.3 Teleworkers and Domestic Activities .............................................................16 2.4 Social Inclusion ................................................................................................19 2.5 Community Involvement.................................................................................21 3. Economic Impacts of Teleworking.........................................................................23 3.1 Increased productivity.....................................................................................23 3.2 Most Teleworkers Work for Longer ..............................................................28 3.3 Absenteeism ......................................................................................................32 3.4 Career Development ........................................................................................33 4. Transport Impacts of Teleworking.........................................................................33 Mode of Travel .......................................................................................................33 4.1 Travel Effects of Different Kinds of Teleworking ........................................33 4.2 Increases in Personal and Work-Related Travel ..........................................35 5. Conclusions .............................................................................................................36 Appendix – Details of the Survey ...............................................................................38 2
  3. 3. Highlights BT is participating in a European project on sustainable teleworking, financed by the Commission’s IST initiative.1 This report summarises one of the first outputs from the project, an on-line survey of staff registered with workabout, BT’s official teleworking scheme. Answers were received from 1874 people – a very satisfactory response rate of 36.5% of the overall sample of 5128 staff surveyed. Teleworking is Generally Positive for BT Staff and Society as a Whole Most of the questions related to the personal and social impacts of teleworking. The majority of respondents felt that this was giving them a better life: 85% felt that their quality of life was good or very good 82% felt that teleworking was important or very important to their quality of life 73% felt that their work-life balance was good or very good 90% were satisfied or very satisfied with teleworking. A small minority of respondents felt that teleworking was having negative effects on their quality of life, mainly because of increased working hours. The majority (81%) of recent Workabout registrants felt their expectations of the benefits of teleworking had been met. However, 19% of respondents were finding the drawbacks more significant than expected. The main reason given was difficulty in adjusting to the lack of social interaction. The survey also examined motivations to telework and found that: The highest ranked was getting more work done, with 83% of respondents stating that this was very important Only 46% of respondents stating that more time for themselves was very important Only 25% of respondents stated that making it easier to help with caring responsibilities was very important (even though 58% of respondents had dependent children). In addition: 33% of respondents stated that their contribution to domestic activity had increased 1 See for more information on the project. 3
  4. 4. 14% reported that it had made it easier to become involved in community activities 10% believed that they would be unable to do their present job if unable to telework. Hence BT teleworking is positively contributing to work-life balance, community development and social inclusion. Teleworking Increases Productivity and Reduces Absenteeism – But Also Increases Working Hours 78% of teleworkers considered themselves to be more productive. The main reasons were reduced disruption, reduced commuting time and stress and greater flexibility about when and where to work. 22% of teleworkers said that they had worked at home during their last typical working month when they felt too ill to travel to work. However, 69% of respondents stated that their working hours had increased, with 45% of respondents reporting an increase of more than 9 hours per week. How can this paradox of higher quality of life but increased working hours be explained? One reason is reduced time commuting, which can free time for both work and private life, and also greatly reduce stress. Another is the ability to multi-task – for example, hanging out washing during breaks – so that there is more quality time at the evening or weekends. Teleworking Reduces Travel – But Not Always Teleworking certainly reduces commuting travel: 74% of new registrants say that travel reduction was an important factor in their decision to telework 47% of those still commuting say that their commute travel has decreased and only 6% say that it has increased The average reduction in car commuting is 178 miles per week, and for rail 220 miles 27% of respondents felt that teleworking had decreased in-work travel compared to 13% who felt that that it had increased. However, the survey found that that there are at least seven different kinds of teleworker within BT, with considerable differences in travel and other areas between them. 4
  5. 5. 46% of BT teleworkers working at home when they would otherwise have worked elsewhere use their cars for additional journeys, demonstrating that this can offset some commuting savings. Some Questions Remain Unanswered The survey suggests that BT needs to conduct further research to: 1. Compare a sample of teleworkers with non-teleworkers so that effects created by teleworking can be distinguished from those created by more general organisational changes 2. Better understand the environmental and social impacts of teleworkers who are not registered with workabout (which is probably a much larger proportion of BT teleworkers) 3. Gain a more detailed understanding of the impacts of different kinds of teleworker 4. Confirm whether teleworkers are working longer hours in total, and whether, if this is the case, anything can or should be done to help them to avoid this. 5
  6. 6. Introduction BT is one of Europe's leading providers of telecommunications services and has around 108,000 employees. The company began implementing telework schemes in 1990 and now probably has the largest number of teleworkers of any UK organisation.2 Over 5000 of these are registered with the focus of this study, the workabout scheme. This voluntary scheme provides equipment and other support to teleworkers who are giving up a permanent BT office space to move to a home-based, mobile working pattern. The main reasons for BT’s encouragement of teleworking have been: Cost control, particularly through reducing expenditure on office accommodation and increasing productivity (the workabout scheme is administered by BT’s Property function) Working conditions, aimed at improving general employee attendance, morale, recruitment and retention by giving them more control over the location and timing of work Productivity, concerned with encouraging more efficient and effective working by employees A desire to demonstrate that teleworking can work so that other organisations will be encouraged to adopt it A belief that teleworking can create considerable environmental and social benefits such as reduced travel and a better work-life balance for employees. To substantiate this belief BT's Environment Unit has commissioned two surveys of new registrants to workabout.3 These surveys focused on travel impacts so that there remained some uncertainty about social impacts. An opportunity to address these arose through BT’s participation in SUSTEL, a European Union project on sustainable teleworking.4 Part of its research is a comparative survey of teleworkers in the five partner countries. As part of the questionnaire development process for this, BT agreed to survey all the 5128 BT employees then registered with workabout. The workabout registrants were e-mailed in March 2002 and asked to fill in an on-line questionnaire on an independent third party web site established by the report authors. Completed questionnaires were received from 1874 staff by the cut-off date. Although not all respondents answered every question, it is still one of the largest surveys of its kind ever undertaken. The response 2 BT itself rarely uses the term teleworking, but sees it as one aspect of a broader commitment to flexible working. 3 See for further details of these surveys. 4 See for further details of the project. 6
  7. 7. rate of 36.5% is also very satisfactory for this kind of research. The appendix provides full details of the survey. The following sections describe the results of the survey. The analysis is illustrated by comments made by respondents. To retain authenticity, these are reproduced as written except for occasional corrections of misspellings. 1. Typology of Teleworkers The previous BT surveys suggested that people telework in different ways so for this survey a simple classification scheme was developed, with seven categories. As table 1 indicates, most respondents were able to identify with one of the seven categories indicating that the typology is reasonably robust. The fact that all the categories are present is an extremely important point as working styles are important determinants of a number of environmental and social outcomes such as travel and community involvement. The fact that over half the respondents work at multiple locations and have high levels of in-work travel also demonstrates the importance of gaining a more detailed understanding of each of the sub-groups. Table 1 A Typology of BT Teleworkers Category of teleworker Number Percentage a Primarily work in a main BT office but regularly spend days/ half days working at home. Relatively 16 0.9% small amount of in-work travel. b Mixed working locations split between home and main BT office (on average more than one day a week 63 3.4% in each of the two different locations). Relatively small amount of in-work travel. c Mixed working locations split between home and main BT office (on average more than one day a week 79 4.3% in each of the two different locations). Relatively large amount of in-work travel. d Mixed working locations split between home and 460 25.1% multiple BT offices (i.e. no main BT office). e Mixed working locations split between home, BT 350 19.1% offices and customers premises F Home working at start and finish of most working days, on the road during the day routinely visiting 226 12.3% customers and clients. One day or less on average in BT offices g Primarily work at home with occasional days/half 576 31.4% days in BT offices for team meetings, training etc h None of the above - I do not consider myself to be a 4 0.2% teleworker. i None of the above for other reasons - 59 3.2% TOTAL 1833 100.0% 7
  8. 8. There is also considerable turnover between the individual teleworking styles. 24% of respondents had changed their style in the past 12 months, and 10% expected to do so in future. The main reason for this is the move from ‘occasional’ teleworking styles that maintain a fixed office to ones which are some combination of home and mobile working. The questionnaire requested information as to where teleworkers worked. As table 2 shows, 56% of respondents spent more than half their time working at home. Table 2 Proportion of Week Spent Working At Home Proportion of Working Week Number Percentage Spent at Home 0% 69 3.7% 0-10% 54 2.9% 10.1-20% 237 12.7% 20.1-30% 171 9.2% 30.1-40% 297 15.9% 40.1-50% 209 11.2% 50.1-60% 240 12.9% 60.1-70% 115 6.2% 70.1-80% 223 12.0% 80.1-90% 65 3.5% 90.1-100% 186 10.0% TOTAL 1866 100.0% 77% of respondents stated that they had flexibility in where to work so this balance gives a good indication of their personal choices. This is borne out by table 3. This summarises people’s answers to a question about the single most important factor which influenced their decision to work at home. Table 3 Reasons for Working at Home Reasons for Working at Home Number Percentage Need to concentrate (1) 319 22.9% Prefer to work at home (2) 641 46.1% Access to people (4) 165 11.9% Transport issues (6) 97 7.0% Other (9) 74 5.3% Access to information (3) 44 3.2% Family Issues (7) 43 3.1% Illness (8) 6 0.4% Weather conditions (5) 2 0.1% TOTAL 1391 100.0% 8
  9. 9. 2. Social and Personal Impacts The questionnaire explored in detail three ways in which teleworking relates to the social pillar of sustainable development: Impacts on the quality of life of individuals and their families (discussed in sections 2.1 to 2.3) Impacts on social inclusion (discussed in section 2.4) Impacts on community involvement (discussed in section 2.5). 2.1 Teleworking and Quality of Life The majority of respondents felt that they had a better life through teleworking than if they commuted to an office. For example: 85% (1520) of the 1779 respondents to the question ‘overall how would you judge your quality of life over the past 12 months’ stated that it was good or very good Only 5% (95) of respondents felt that it was low or very low5 82% (1455) of the 1779 respondents to the question ‘how important is teleworking to your overall quality of life’ replied that it was important or very important Only 12% (221) felt that teleworking was unimportant or very unimportant to their quality of life6 73% of 1179 respondents to the question ‘overall how would you judge your current balance between your working life and other aspects of your life’ felt that it was good or very good7 90% (1601) of 1779 respondents to the question ‘overall how satisfied are you teleworking over the past 12 months’ were satisfied or very satisfied Only 5% (89) were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.8 Some representative comments on the topic were: 5 The remaining 164 (9%) felt that it was neither good nor bad 6 The remaining 103 (6%) felt that it was neither important nor unimportant. 7 The remaining 242 (14%) felt that it was neither good nor bad. 8 The remaining 89 (5%) felt that it was neither good nor bad. 9
  10. 10. I have peace, quiet, no interruptions and flexibility, e.g. I can sit down at midnight for 3 hours and concentrate and lie in bed the next morning if I wish. I am happier, more organised and generally more productive/ efficient. The ability to vary tasks whilst at home allow thinking time, additionally benefiting those at home (have lunch with the children, for example). This promotes a feel-good and positive attitude and equips oneself for the tasks at hand. I believe that by managing my time around what I have to do I can spend more time with family, be less stressed and hence more focused and productive when carrying my work. Due to not having to commute I now have time at the beginning and end of the day for Domestic duties. This is very helpful to my working wife and thus reduces her stress and workload, which in turn helps us both. We therefore spend more quality time together. The following pages discuss many of these points in greater detail. They also provide comments from the small minority of respondents who did feel that teleworking was having negative effects on their life. To explore the reasons for the generally positive responses about quality of life, we asked respondents to state their agreement or disagreement with various statements about the personal impacts of teleworking (see table 4).9 The highest levels of positive response are to statements about work-related benefits, with: 92% agreeing that they feel more productive 89% saying that they have more control over their working environment 87% believing that they have increased their work flexibility. Some other interesting points to emerge from the responses are: 85% of respondents also strongly or completely agree that they have reduced stress of commuting, but only 44% feel the same about stress experienced in offices - presumably because many work-related stresses are independent of working location. For a significant minority teleworking is not creating more personal time - 16% or respondents disagree that teleworking is giving them more 9 To enable international comparison the form of these statements was taken from a US survey conducted in the mid 1990s. A later, more detailed, report for the SUSTEL project will discuss the comparative findings. 10
  11. 11. time to themselves, and 13% disagree that it is giving them more time for their families. A minority do feel that they have lost some benefits from commuting – 35% agree that they have lost a useful transition from home to office. 11
  12. 12. Table 4 Views of the Whole Sample on the Benefits of Teleworking Factor Do Not Agree Agree Agree Agree Slightly Strongly Completely I am more productive 1.3% 6.8% 49.2% 42.7% I have more control over my physical 2.4% 9.0% 46.3% 42.3% working environment I have reduced stress of commuting 3.3% 11.6% 43.0% 42.1% I have increased my work flexibility 3.1% 9.9% 45.5% 41.5% I feel I am helping the environment by 11.5% 20.8% 34.9% 32.8% driving less I feel I work much longer hours 11.4% 27.9% 32.6% 28.1% I save money 12.1% 30.2% 33.6% 24.1% I have more independence 9.1% 20.5% 46.6% 23.8% I can spend more time with my family 13.4% 31.1% 35.5% 20.0% I find it easier to handle dependent [child 25.5% 22.1% 34.7% 17.7% or adult] care I am able to work while temporarily 48.6% 8.1% 25.8% 17.5% disabled I have more time for myself 15.8% 35.8% 32.2% 16.2% I have reduced the stress I experienced in 21.3% 35.1% 29.1% 14.5% the main office I am able to work instead of taking 52.5% 14.3% 22.4% 10.8% parental leave I am able to keep working at this job after 52.5% 14.3% 22.4% 10.8% changing my residence I find it easier to pursue educational or 24.1% 40.9% 25.8% 9.3% personal interests I feel technical issues are more 43.8% 27.0% 20.1% 9.1% problematic than if I were in a main office I am able to work while permanently 72.8% 9.5% 9. 3% 8.4% disabled I feel much less able to control my 41.9% 32.0% 18.1% 7.9% working hours I feel a loss of professional inter-action 25.7% 41.9% 25.1% 7.3% I feel a reduced workplace visibility and 35.8% 38.0% 19.8% 6.4% career advancement I have lost a useful transition between 64.7% 20.9% 10.6% 3.8% work and home I consider that main BT offices are better 58.4% 28.8% 9.1% 3.7% equipped and nicer than my home work environment and equipment I have lost a commute trip for other 76.4% 14.2% 6.5% 3.0% productive purposes e.g. reading, typing I feel I am viewed negatively by 61.5% 28.7% 7.5% 2.3% management Family conflicts have increased 73.0% 19.7% 5.7% 1.6% I have lost of commute trip for other 80.5% 14.1% 4.6% 0.9% purposes e.g. shopping, school runs I feel less motivated to work than if I was 81.1% 15.6% 2.5% 0.8% in a main office I feel stressed by having to remember 86.0% 12.1% 1.7% 0.2% what items to have in different locations 12
  13. 13. Table 5 Factors Influencing Decision to Telework by Recent Workabout Registrants Factor Not at Not A lot Extremely all very To reduce the stress of commuting 8.1% 18.2% 34.6% 39.2% To increase flexibility 6.1% 10.7% 47. 8% 35.4% To get more work done 6.1% 18.9% 48.8% 26.2% To spend more time with my family 26.8% 24.5% 32.2% 16.5% To have more control over my physical working 17.1% 27.2% 40.8% 15.0% environment To have more time for myself 23.3% 31.6% 31.0% 14.2% To save money 24.3% 35.4% 28.4% 11.9% To help the environment by driving less 27.6% 35.0% 27.9% 9.4% To make it easier to help with caring 53.4% 21.2% 16.1% 9.3% responsibilities To reduce the stress I experienced in the main 46.9% 32.4% 12.2% 8.5% office To have more independence 30.1% 34.2% 29.2% 6.4% To be able to work instead of taking parental 72.0% 11.2% 10.6% 6.2% leave To keep working at this job after changing my 72.0% 11.2% 10.6% 6.2% residence To make it easier to pursue educational or 46.2% 35.0% 14.4% 4.4% personal interests To be able to work while temporarily disabled 87.6% 7.0% 2.2% 3.2% To be able to work while permanently disabled 93.8% 2.9% 0.6% 2.6% 13
  14. 14. Table 6 Initial Concerns About Teleworking by Recent Workabout Registrants Factor Do not Agree Agree Agree agree slightly Strongly completely Potential Loss of social interaction found in 14.5% 26.1% 36.8% 10.9% the traditional workplace Potential Loss of professional interaction 13.7% 28.2% 38.3% 7.9% found in the workplace Potential Loss of Opportunities for visibility 23.9% 41.9% 16.0% 5.8% and career advancement Potential risk of being viewed negatively by 40.6% 32.7% 11.7% 3.0% management Concern that teleworking may increase 53.3% 25.4% 7.1% 1.8% family conflicts Concern about motivation to work as a 47.2% 27.4% 11.9% 1.3% teleworker Loss of commute trip for other productive 71.1% 13.5% 2.0% 0.8% purposes e.g. reading, typing Concern about having to remember what 68.8% 15.2% 3.0% 0.5% items to have in different locations Concern that main office was better 55.8% 25.4% 6.3% 0.3% equipped and nicer Loss of commute trip as a useful transition 64.0% 15.2% 7.9% 0.3% between work and home Loss of commute trip for other purposes 71.3% 12.7% 3.3% 0.0% e.g. shopping, school runs 14
  15. 15. 2.2 Motivations to, and Concerns about, Telework One problem with individuals comparing their current situation with that before they teleworked is that they be unable to recall accurately. To guard against this we included some questions aimed solely at people who had registered with Workabout during the previous 12 months. The questions focused on their initial motivation to telework and the benefits and costs they had found in practice (see tables 5 and 6 for the answers). Some interesting aggregate points to emerge with regard to initial motivations to telework are: Getting more work done was the most important motivator with 83% of respondents stating that this was a lot or extremely important More personal time was perhaps less important than many people might have imagined, with only 46% of respondents stating that more time for themselves was a lot or extremely important, and only 49% of respondents saying the same about spending more time with their family Only 25% of respondents stated that making it easier to help with caring responsibilities was a lot or extremely important (even though 58% of respondents had dependent children). The last two points suggest that the commonly view that teleworkers are mainly parents seeking a better work-life balance is not completely true of BT teleworkers. As table 6 shows, the two greatest fears were about isolation from social and professional interaction in the workplace. Only a minority of respondents felt that they had been concerned about their motivation or possible negative impacts on their families. The majority (81%) of recent Workabout registrants felt their expectations of the benefits of teleworking had been met. However, 19% of respondents were finding the drawbacks more significant than expected. The main reason given was difficulty in adjusting to the lack of social interaction, with some representative comments being: A phone allows contact but ad hoc bouncing of ideas around and close contact support diminishes in the home environment. Loss of social interaction is demotivating and can be depressing. However, several respondents mentioned that they had taken positive action to overcome it: At least one team member calls me daily even if to say Hi. This is after we raised it as an issue in one of our workshops, it helps and the 15
  16. 16. isolation is barely there. Some also mentioned difficulties with work-life balance, for example: Conflict with being at home and "at work" at the same time has been hard - it is more difficult to "ignore" my partner when she is at home and I am "at work". It is easier to ignore open-plan office noise than home noise! Other comments on drawbacks included: More difficult to get visibility at higher management level - Out of sight out of mind! Longer working hours and the I’ll just check the emails while I have 5 mins outside of working hours. The guilt trip when you are ill and normally would have left the office to go home to bed, but as you are home you try to keep going. Drawbacks have been around missing career development opportunities. Reading time has gone. Just don’t get round to it at home. And, whilst it is safe to say that the person who observed that: I ran to the office and back every day, 10 mile round trip, and this was ideal training for my adopted sport of road / hill running, I’m now down to one run per day and the race times are now suffering is probably unique or almost so several others did mention the reduction in exercise as a result of teleworking: Total lack of exercise during work time, most of my time is spent at home and going down stairs for breakfast is as strenuous as it gets. Finally, a small number of respondents were dissatisfied with their technical support and/or their communications infrastructure. 2.3 Teleworkers and Domestic Activities A third (279) of the 851 respondents to the question ‘has the amount of domestic activity increased as a result of teleworking’ answered yes whilst only 48 (6%) considered it had decreased. People were asked to expand on this feature of teleworking in an open-ended question. Some of the most frequent comments were by fathers about opportunities for greater involvement with children, for example: 16
  17. 17. Opportunity to take children to school once a week, allowing my wife to go to college. Taking kids to school more often and spending more time with partner and kids. Time formerly spent commuting is now spent helping out with my two young sons. Before teleworking I would not have seen them awake during the week as their bedtimes would have been before getting back from work. Able to cook tea in time for children coming home from work or school. Able to wash dishes at dinnertime! Many men also commented that they were taking on more domestic tasks: When I finish work I have time to do housekeeping cooking etc before my wife & kids get home. This gives us all more time to interact and do the things we enjoy. My wife works so working at home I can run dishwasher/washing machine /tumble dryer etc. Also shop & prepare evening meal. I have been promoted to Washing/Weather watcher by my wife. I prepare the evening meal when I finish work, hopefully in time for the arrival home of the family. Now have a baby and have to help the wife more. The extra time has allowed me to share more of the responsibilities of being a parent. In a number of cases this was greatly helping female partners: I fit in more domestic duties around work and my wife expects me to do more. This has enabled her to return to her career but of course means I spend more time working in the evenings. My wife is now able to work fulltime now the children have someone at home to supervise etc. With the flexibility I am able to take the kids to school and their other activities. Which has been an absolute godsend as my wife has been recently diagnosed & is suffering from MS. But not all men were quite so positive: Forced Labour. My wife makes me do it!! 17
  18. 18. Most women respondents were also positive about the time benefits of their own teleworking, although in their case this was more about the ability to fit in domestic tasks during the day: I can cook more often. It is easier to fit in some domestic things like putting on the dishwasher at lunchtime. Less time commuting means I have more time to do housework, cook meals etc. On a typical day, I will wash and dry one load of washing, wash up, clean work surface, and sweep the floor - about 30 minutes in total. I do this before work (when I would previously have commuted) and at lunch times. As I just returned from maternity leave when I became a homeworker, it was very convenient being able to put the washing on and hang it out and bring it in again, especially if it started to rain, which you couldn’t do if you were at work. Another perceived benefit of teleworking for women is the ability to undertake shopping: Able to pop out to do shopping during lunchtime and the same with school activities. Being flexible about working times has meant that activities such as food shopping can be done via home delivery or at less busy times which also frees up time to spend. Easier to go shopping at none busy times. Go for quick shop/banking/dog walking etc. This greater use of local services can have important social benefits, especially in rural areas: Now that I no longer work in a town, I have switched to Internet banking and use the local village post office for paying in and withdrawing cash. This helps to keep the village post office viable. A smaller number of people also noted the value of being able to do other domestic tasks: Used the previous commuting time to do DIY, put the kids to bed. Able to use the lunch break to mow the lawn, general gardening, etc. I have more time to cook decent meals now, which I enjoy. Others noted advantages such as: 18
  19. 19. I can use some of the time I used to travel to do things like a fitness routine. Participate in new activities!! I never had to opportunity to work in the nude in the office! Arrange to be in for repairmen, deliveries etc. Also able to have a cleaner once a week as I’m at home. I am now able to take part in activities such as sport during daylight hours during the winter, where I could not before. I get time to walk the dog in the daylight! Teleworking also produced greater social interaction for some: By being at home I can take a lunch break to sort out domestic issues locally - school, neighbour, friend etc. Which could not be done if I commuted. Easier to plan evenings out with family and friends as I know I will not be travelling to 7 pm plus every evening. Three respondents may have been more emphatic in their summary of teleworking than most, but they do appear to speak for the majority when the commented that: Has made a dramatic improvement to my work and personal life. Has allowed me to become involved in village life (e.g. Chair of School Governors). Allows me to see more of my children growing up, especial at those important times e.g. before they go to school and most important when they return and tell you about their day. Brings a family much closer together. Weekends more time - more relaxed at end of day. As previously noted, teleworking has made an enormous improvement to my quality of life. I used to be away from home 12 hours every day - now I work in a more relaxed frame of mind. No contest! 2.4 Social Inclusion We also examined the issue of social inclusion, particular whether teleworking was allowing people to stay in employment when they might otherwise have had to leave. Around 10% (190) of the 1874 respondents to the question ‘would you be able to undertake your current job if you were unable to telework?’ replied that they would not. For many people this is simply a 19
  20. 20. question of commuting times (especially when offices have relocated since teleworking began), which could potentially be overcome by moving. But others face more insuperable barriers of an inability to spend 8-10 hours away from the home. A number of respondents commented that teleworking allowed them to care for dependent young children: As a single parent I would not be able to commute to London every day as it is impossible to get a childminder to do the hours I would need and the cost is prohibitive. I would only be able to work part-time as a divorced parent my children are with me part of each week and my teams office base is not easily commutable. It would be difficult. When I first started teleworking, it would have made no difference. However, subsequently my wife has fallen ill and I have a 3-year-old son. Life would be much more difficult if I was not here to help out. In a number of cases, however, teleworking was allowing people to provide extra time for disabled children or those with special needs: I have been ill on at least 3 occasions since teleworking and still managed to do my job. This is a hidden bonus for employers of teleworkers. I started home working because I had real difficulties looking after my Son who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. If I had not started working from home I might have been forced to leave the company. I have a special needs child who is registered disabled and have been able to reduce the stress levels from other family members, by contributing more to school trips and hospital visits. I have an Autistic son and am a single parent with very little support so I need to work from home. One respondent perhaps summarised the importance of teleworking for such people: I have had a very difficult year personally. Had it not been for my flexible working arrangements, I would very likely have been forced to give up work. This way I continue to be a productive citizen, I balance my family commitments with my working life, and I continue to provide quality output for my employer and our customers. The other side of this coin is that BT is probably retaining a number of staff – many of whom presumably would have key skills – who might otherwise have left its employment, 20
  21. 21. However, the comment of one respondent that: Now do house work to relax. If I take a break I usually end up Hovering (!) or washing etc rather than going out or chatting with others in the office reveals one potential downside from an organisational perspective. The chats in the office can be valuable in terms of communicating information, maintaining relationships and providing stimulation. As one of the lengthier answers observed: There are only 2 problems that have concerned me about homeworking so far. Firstly, when I was in the office Id spend my lunch break wandering around the city centre. Now, I'm more likely to do the ironing or some gardening. This means that I'm not getting the exercise I used to so I've had to buy a fitness bike to counter my new found sloth. Secondly, my day passes without incident. I no longer have any amusing tales of daily travel, office gossip or city centre observations to talk about with my wife. When she asks about my day, I have to say that nothing unusual happened in the spare room today - but, oh yes, I did receive an amusing e-mail. It's easy to become de-socialised! Effective teleworkers – and good employers – recognise the value of this informal networking and try to provide it in other ways. 2.5 Community Involvement More time at home can create many personal benefits, but does not necessarily create social benefit. To examine this topic, the survey asked if teleworking has allowed BT teleworkers to spend more time on community activities and volunteering – an important facet of sustainable development, which stresses the importance of local level initiatives and participation. To place this into context, we obtained baseline data on how many people actually engaged in community activities and volunteering, what those activities are and how much time they spent on them. Approximately a third (692) of 1874 respondents reported that they are involved in community activities. Table 7 indicates the diverse range of activities undertaken by the 486 people who provided information on this. 21
  22. 22. Table 7 Involvement in Voluntary Activities Groups Total School Related 105 Community/Local/Neighbourhood 61 activities Sport – Participating 42 40 Religion – Participating 40 Charitable (Not specified) Scouts/Guides/Cubs etc. 35 Sport - children/youth 32 36 Sport - Managing/ Coaching 28 Children’s/Youth (Other than sports) 22 Religion – Management Music & Drama 17 11 BT Community Activities 12 Activities for Environmental Issues Miscellaneous Leisure 11 Other Public Activities 9 Magistrates 7 Politics 8 Adult Education (Teaching) 8 Business-related 7 Counselling 4 Not Specified - Other 20 TOTAL 555 22
  23. 23. Of course, these absolute figures say nothing about the influence of teleworking upon the amount of time spent. To find out, we asked the question ‘does your opportunity to telework make it easier or more difficult to be involved in organised community activities?’ The answers are generally positive: 14% (267) of 1874 respondents stated that it made involvement easier Only 9 respondents stated that it made involvement more difficult. We went on to ask ‘would you say that the amount of time spent on such activities has altered as a result of teleworking?’ The answers were that: 118 (6%) reported an increase, and only 13 a decrease (the percentage of those actually engaged in community activities who have increased their time commitment is, of course, much higher) The increase in time commitments varied between 1 hr per week and 23 hrs per week. It appears therefore that BT teleworking does support community involvement, at least in the areas where respondents live. 3. Economic Impacts of Teleworking The questionnaire explored in detail three ways in which teleworking relates to the economic pillar of sustainable development: Impacts on people’s work performance (discussed in section 3.1) Impacts on absenteeism (discussed in section 3.3) Impacts on people’s career development (discussed in section 3.4). Section 3.2 also discusses the important issue of whether changes in work outputs are related to increased working hours rather than any benefits of teleworking per se. 3.1 Increased productivity The measurement of productivity, and the identification of the reasons for any changes, is more difficult than might be imagined.10 In this case, we took the straightforward approach of asking respondents what they felt. The majority (78%) of the sample (=1865) stated that they considered that they were more productive as a result of shifting to some form of home-based working whilst 3.9% considered they were less productive. Around a fifth (17%) felt there had been no change. Whilst the comment that: 10 For a discussion, see the Conceptual Paper of the Sustainable Teleworking project, downloadable from 23
  24. 24. Actually, your productivity increase scale above isn’t big enough - before I teleworked full time, I used to take 3 days office work to do in one day at home Is at the extreme end of the spectrum, it does capture the feelings of many respondents. Table 8 Factors Influencing Teleworker’s Productivity Factor Number of times factor stated Reduced Disruption 829 Reduced Commuting time/stress 586 Flexibility Time and location 468 Working Longer Hours 198 Access to/availability of information 96 Reduces stress/more relaxed 72 Work Life Balance and Control 70 Motivation and Pressure 55 Environment and physical control 34 Reduced Disruption Where a change in productivity had been experienced or perceived respondents were asked to comment on why this was? As can be seen from table 8 the most significant determinant of increased productivity was reduced disruption. Some representative comments on this point were: I’d forgotten what it was like to read documents without my fingers being in my ears. There is total peace here, no noisy individuals with head sets. No constant banter and distraction. I love it! The ability to concentrate on the job in hand without the interruptions that are inevitable in an office environment. For example people having spontaneous meetings at nearby desks in open plan offices instead of bothering to book a meeting room. This ability to concentrate is perhaps particularly important to those with perfectionist tendencies: concentration to produce quality products - even to the state of perfection. Another point to emerge was the ability to be in control of communication rather than embedded in a ‘soup’ of continuous communication within an office: 24
  25. 25. The natural environmental "hubub" of an open plan office can be mildly distracting. Homeworking allows communication over Phone/mail/local messaging (LAN) in a more focused manner. However, a minority of the replies in this category illustrate the difficulties which some people can experience when working at home. One such is that it still be difficult to concentrate at home during the day, when there may be on- going communication with work through various channels, and concentrated work is therefore done at other times: Find that I can be more productive and focused later at night when the phone isn’t ringing. However, whilst many obviously welcome the ability to: concentrate without distraction of chatting to people in the office, bumping into people on the way to the coffee machine, etc. there is a potential downside of less of the informal, unstructured, communication which can be an important aspect of transferring knowledge within an organisation. Reduced Commuting Time/Stress Table 2 demonstrates that a reduction in commuting time and stress is the second main reason why people believe that they are more productive. In most cases the reason is less time spent commuting, with at least some of this time being made available to BT (see section 3.2 for a discussion of the implications of this for working hours). Some typical comments were: I regularly start work before 8am and finish @ 6pm whilst at home. If commuting to work I would not be prepared to be in the office at these times on a regular basis In my previous office, I aimed to both arrive and leave very early to avoid traffic bottlenecks. This meant that my working hours differed from those of some colleagues, leading to inefficiencies. I no longer have to try to end my work to catch a specific train, I tend to finish a job because I’m already at home. If I had to travel home there would be a far chance that I would leave the work to be completed the next day. More alert as no longer on the road at 06:45 to start work at 07:30 to avoid traffic. Can now start at 08:30 and work later in the evening. A number of respondents also commented on the productivity benefits of avoiding the stresses of commuting: 25
  26. 26. Fewer distractions, generally a quieter environment and more relaxed. I am claustrophobic and I found the journey in and out of London at rush hour extremely stressful. I had to spend the first hour winding down and would then wind up again. I do not feel tired and frustrated when I start work, as I did after commuting to central London. Commuting itself can be tiring, I would some times arrive at the office feeling as if I had already done a days work. Standing on a crowded platform in the rain, followed by being herded into a sweaty carriage for over an hour, doesn’t put people in a good mind set for work. From home you can get up later but still be at your desk earlier and in a much better refreshed. Control of Time The third main reason given for increased productivity is increased control over, and flexibility in the use of, time: Because I am more in control about when and how I work. My objectives move from turning out results every day to delivering according to deadlines. How I achieve this is my decision. The upside is that if I want to take Friday afternoon off its up to me - I plan my working week accordingly. Able to Flex my working day to maximise my performance e.g. get up early to complete a piece of work on time before attending to childcare responsibility. Flexibility means at times am able to log on and complete tasks, relieving my stress whilst being productive. This can be at weekends or evenings, early mornings - BUT IT IS MY CHOICE, not forced. Flexibility to take a break when tired, and return to the office for two or three hours after a meal - impossible in a BT office! However, the point noted previously of some of the advantages cited by respondents also having the effect of some extension of working hours into the evening or weekend is also present here: Able to work later in the evenings or especially Sunday evenings to prepare for the coming week. Late evening working has a great work advantage as I am able to communicate with workers in USA 26
  27. 27. Better able to schedule tasks such as reading/research and document writing at different times of day at evening and weekends rather cram into normal working day. I am able to complete a task left unfinished at the end of "core" working hours in the evenings once my daughter is asleep. 24 hr availability of e-mail / intranet at home means I can progress work flow at anytime of day / night without having to make a special journey to a BT building. Little effort on my part needed. Plus television is so dire in winter months - work is a pleasure. Views will differ on whether this extension of labour over time is a good or bad thing. Most respondents appear to accept it as a reasonable trade-off for greater flexibility. But some outsiders might be critical of the reduced barriers between personal and work time which it entails. Other Reasons for Increased Productivity A significant minority ascribed their productivity to increased working hours, which is discussed further in Section 3.2. Many others mentioned the beneficial effects of improved work-life balance, reduced stress and other lifestyle factors: Have a healthy balance between work and family life and as a result far more productive. Some also commented on the way that telework had increased their sense of motivation and purpose, for a variety of reasons: More empowered to do a better job when given freedom to choose timing and location of that work Being happier makes you more motivated, which I have found with teleworking Feel more valued and trusted as a homeworker Feel guilty, and work more to compensate. I feel more motivated when I can help take the children to nursery Guilt factor, I don’t wish to be seen as "out of sight, out of might" by the rest of the team More determined to show that I work as well if not better on my own than if I was in an office - a bid to ensure that management don’t question my motivation 27
  28. 28. There is also a guilt factor that hangs over from the days when working from home was viewed as skiving so you produce more to compensate. Others commented on the beneficial effects of working in a more pleasant physical environment: I feel happier and much more positive when approaching a difficult task if I am in a familiar/comfortable environment like my office at home. I enjoy where I am (a farm in mid-Wales) Better feeling of well being as a result of less environmental influences on health, like poor air conditioning, lots of computer monitor radiation, feeling worn out after traveling. I am so relieved not to have to work in the stuffy, awful air that is evident in many major buildings - being able to see sunlight and breathe fresh air through an open window. A final reason for increased productivity was easy access to information and other resources: Can be more productive as have easier access to information to do the job, e.g. do not have to stay late at the office, or work within time limitations of the office I am able to react to things immediately as I have everything I need here at home. I do not need to get things (eg reports) from the office etc I have access to all materials during the creative period that occurs for me naturally in the evening after a glass of wine Basically available for more hours per day per week. Because I am available for a lot more hours and will even answer the phone out of hours And no lunch breaks/pub visits taken any more Rather than watching the rubbish on the television, and providing I have no urgent family commitments, I would much rather deal with any problems or projects that may have arisen, giving my customers a better and faster response. 3.2 Most Teleworkers Work for Longer A number of previous comments have observed that people are changing their working hours. Almost all the comments on the topic suggested that 28
  29. 29. most people are working more extended hours, by starting earlier than before teleworking or finishing later. In most cases, the ability to do this is seen as one of the key benefits of teleworking. However, these changes raise the question of whether the increased productivity noted by both teleworkers themselves, and BT as their employer, could be due as much to more working hours in total as much as other causes. To find out we asked respondents whether they felt they were working for longer. As table 9 shows: Only 34 respondents (2% of those answering) stated that teleworking had reduced their working hours . In contrast 1219 people (68.5%) stated that they had increased, and 525 (29.5%) that they had remained the same.11 As table 10 indicates, 80% of those noting increased hours reported an increase of more than 5 hours a week Almost 45% reported more than 9 hours per week. Of course, it could be that some respondents misinterpreted the question to mean more extended working hours rather than more in total but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that many BT teleworkers are working more hours in total. 11 Note, however that 120 of those noting increased, and 9 of those noting decreased, working hours gave 0 as the actual figure so these figures may slightly overstate the situation. 29
  30. 30. Table 9 Effects of Teleworking on Working Hours Increased 1219 Decreased 34 Same 525 Not Answered 96 TOTAL 1874 Table 10 Reported Increases in Working Hours Number of Increased Hours Percentage responses 0 120 9.8% 0.1-2.9 50 4.1% 3.0-4.9 79 6.5% 5.0-6.9 300 24.6% 7.0-8.9 124 10.2% 9.0-11.9 337 27.6% 12.0-14.9 40 3.3% 15+ 169 13.9% TOTAL 1219 100.0% 30
  31. 31. A small number of respondents noted that increased working hours have had a deleterious effect on their quality of life, for example: I have spent more time working and less time with family related issues. I now work more hours in open ended roles, there is never an end point and with no set hours and laptops, its too easy to work too long. I used to work in the garden on Sat. mornings, now I tend to work on the computer. However, the vast majority – whilst perhaps not welcoming the increase in hours – nonetheless did not feel strongly enough to let it influence their view that they now have a better quality of life. Before discussing this further, we need to understand why working hours increase. One important point is that many of the respondents have been teleworking for some time. It is therefore possible that their non-teleworking peers have also experienced longer hours because of increased commercial pressures on BT. The relevance of this point is underlined by one respondent who noted that: As part of a reorganisation I had to pick up the complete load of another colleague. This would have been impossible with the daily commuting to the office. The hours freed up have allowed me to cope with both (just about!). To really understand what is happening for this, and other subjects covered in the survey, it would be desirable to compare a reasonably matched group of teleworkers and non-teleworkers. Another, more teleworking-specific reason for longer working hours, is the way in which people use greater control of time to complete tasks in one go: Easier access to computer, systems and information etc tends to result in carrying on working until a job is completed to my satisfaction, rather than leaving it until the next day to complete. I spend more time working; I find excuses to finish off pieces of work to allow for a clean start to the following day. Whilst this does not necessarily lead to longer working hours (some time off could be taken the following day to compensate), in practice this does not seem to be the case for many. Presumably the reasons are that work is either being undertaken to higher standards, sometimes for greater job satisfaction, and/or more work is being undertaken than previously. The lure of reading the latest e-mail, or undertaking some other work-related activity, is also too tempting to resist for some teleworkers: 31
  32. 32. Spend too long on intranet and email at home after normal working hours. Finally, there may be a need (actual or perceived) to impress managers, at least for the 10% of respondents who felt that they were viewed negatively by management (see table 4): Increase in workload/hours worked/need to produce results to satisfy higher management that I am not skiving. The finding that most BT teleworkers report both longer working hours and better quality of life is paradoxical. More time working is usually associated with increased stress, domestic tension and other factors which reduce quality of life. One possible explanation is that, for many individuals, their increased working hours will be less than the time they have saved in commuting.12 Hence, they still have more time available for family and other activities. For some, the stress associated with commuting (especially for long distances) may be less than that arising from additional working time. Perhaps most significantly, teleworking can in effect create time through opportunities for multi-tasking or greater control of activities. As respondents noted: Things like washing, shopping can be fitted into a working day leaving the weekends free for leisure rather than catching up on the weeks household duties. Although the amount of time not changed it has made the Weekends freer, as domestic activities can be fitted in during lunchtimes or early morning. 3.3 Absenteeism Absenteeism is a major economic cost for employers. There are many reasons for absenteeism but one of the most important is illness. We therefore asked people how many days during their last typical four month period they worked at home when they felt too ill to make travel to work feasible. Almost a quarter (22%) of respondents stated that this was the case. For 6% of respondents this involved periods of four days or more. Whilst answers to this could be exaggerated, and the work done may be less than on a normal working day, it nonetheless seems that this aspect of teleworking is providing major economic benefit to BT. 12 Most of the respondents, and the whole sample, are highly mobile managerial and professional staff, who tend to have longer commuting distances and time than the average. 32
  33. 33. 3.4 Career Development We also asked about the impact of being a teleworker on career development. The majority did not consider it had had any effect. However a sizeable 20% considered the effects had been mildly or strongly positive. The same proportion felt completely the opposite, i.e. that it had been mildly or strongly negative. However, a smaller proportion felt the effects had been extremely negative (2.5%) that strongly positive (7.9%). 4. Transport Impacts of Teleworking Two previous surveys examined the reduction in commuting travel achieved as a result of teleworking. This is certainly an intended outcome of Workabout registrants, with 74% of newcomers to the scheme saying that travel reduction was an important factor in their decision to telework. Their objectives appear to have been achieved with 47% of this still commuting saying that their commute travel had decreased and only 6% saying that it had increased. Table 11 gives the mean weekly reductions in car and train travel given by respondents and shows that these are broadly similar to the findings of the two previous BT surveys. The conclusion of the first survey that “if these values and modal split are typical across the full sample of Workabout registrants then the total savings would amount to a weekly commute reduction of 424000 of car travel and 190000 miles per week of rail travel” therefore remains valid, and may be an understatement. Table 11 Reductions in Weekly Commuting Mode of Travel Survey 1 Survey 2 Current Survey Car users only 95 miles 186 miles 178 miles Rail users only 143 miles 202 miles 220 miles However, the earlier reports also identified a number of caveats and unanswered questions which this survey tried to address, notably: Whether different forms of teleworking have different kinds of travel impacts (see section 4.1) Whether the direct savings from avoided commuting were offset by increases in personal or work-related travel (see section 4.2). 4.1 Travel Effects of Different Kinds of Teleworking As section 1 discussed, the survey demonstrated that there are different kinds of teleworker within BT. It also demonstrated that only around a third of respondents are stereotypical teleworkers, i.e. working from home for several days a week and in an office for most of the remaining time. The other two thirds have complex working patterns which generally involve working in 33
  34. 34. multiple locations and undertaking considerable amounts of in-work travel. The importance of this in-work travel is reflected in the fact that 53% of the sample are provided with a company car. Hence, some caution is needed in interpreting the ‘average’ reductions in commuting savings which have been reported in the previous BT studies and most others. The term commuting can also be ambiguous, with some researchers defining it as travel to and from a main office, as this study has, and others defining it as all work-related travel which is paid for by an employer. It has also been unclear in some previous research studies whether a person is deemed to have avoided commuting when they travel from home to appointments. At BT, for example, the Workabout contract assumes that registrants will be giving up a main office and therefore ending commuting to and from it. All work-related travel is therefore remunerated. For example, with some field engineers the job starts and ends from home, all intervening travel is to and from customer’s premises except for occasional trips to BT buildings. The exception is employees on London Weighting, who retain this entitlement for a period of time after commencing the Workabout contract, despite their home-offices being outside London. (This agreement states that, to satisfy the tax authorities, travel to and from BT offices in the London area is still paid for by the employee, being classed as a commute trip). When asked if they still commuted 520 people (28% of respondents) replied that they did. This is surprisingly high, given that Workabout registration is generally meant to involve giving up a main office. As table 12 shows, 50% did so for between 1-3 days per week. Table 12 Number of Days Commuting Percentage of Number of Days Number of People Respondents 0 7513 14.4% 1 100 19.2% 2 86 16.5% 3 71 13.7% 4 26 5.0% 5 162 31.2% TOTAL 520 100.0% A follow-on question revealed that 34% of respondents did not work at home for a full day on any day of the week. This is consistent with the previous answers. Taken together, the two questions suggest that for a large percentage of employees teleworking does not involve a large number of full time home working days. Indeed only 8% of the sample stated that they 13 This question asked people who still commuted how many days in a recent typical week they commuted. The 75 people either misunderstood the question, or commute on an intermittent basis. 34
  35. 35. worked at home everyday for the whole day. 30% worked between 1-2 days and 28% between 3-4 days. The main reason for this pattern appears to be personal preference. 77% of respondents said that they had flexibility in deciding where to work. And 52% of respondents said that their ideal was working for between 1-3 days a week at home. 4.2 Increases in Personal and Work-Related Travel One unanswered question in teleworking research is whether teleworking leads to more or less in-work travel. Some believe that it can be increased for staff who are on the road a great deal. They may gain time savings from avoided commuting journeys and/or by starting from home and avoiding some of the congestion which is typical of roads surrounding major office locations. Some of this additional time ‘capacity’ may then be used to fit in additional work journeys. The vast majority of the sample (96%) stated that they undertake business travel. In a typical week the main mode of business travel is by car (75% of the sample), followed by train (42%) and tube (30%), the latter reflecting the significant proportion of London based staff. 4% state they use air travel in any typical week. The mean mileage across all modes for business travel is estimated at 459 miles/week per employee. However, table 13 suggests that, in aggregate, this travel is less than before they started to telework. A quarter (27%) of respondents felt that teleworking had decreased in-work travel either significantly or by a little. However, the fact that 13% of respondents felt that that it had increased demonstrates that there is some validity in the concern about increased in-work travel as a result of teleworking, at least for the very mobile workers who are typical of BT's telework-force. Table 13 – Changes in Work-Related Travel as a Result of Teleworking Change in Travel Number Percentage Increased significantly 115 6.2% Increased a little 124 6.7% Stayed the same 1110 59.5% Decreased a little 236 12.7% Decreased 279 15.0% significantly TOTAL 1864 100.0% Another source of additional journeys is the spare car ‘capacity’ that is created when teleworkers who would have driven to work choose to work at home. Is the unused vehicle parked in the drive or is it driven for other purposes by the teleworker and/or his or her household members? In the case of BT teleworkers 56% say the former, and 46% the latter, demonstrating that this is an issue to be taken seriously. What is not clear from the study is whether this 35
  36. 36. additional travel is of shorter duration and substitutes for commuter journeys of longer duration. 5. Conclusions For BT and Workabout registrants teleworking appears to be a mutually beneficial activity which is also creating economic, environmental and social benefits. Most staff say that they are enjoying an improved quality of life, reduced stress from commuting, feeling more productive and other benefits. And, if their responses are accurate, BT is benefiting from higher employee productivity and morale and lower absenteeism.14 BT’s teleworking is also creating broader benefits. Workabout registrants generally have reduced commuting travel (which translates into less pollution and reduced fossil fuel consumption. They are also putting more time into local community and volunteering activities, and perhaps also making greater use of local shops and other services. And Workabout is allowing a small but significant minority of disabled, health-impaired and other disadvantaged employees to remain in employment, which they enjoy. However, there are several cautionary notes to this generally pleasing melody. The survey has established that there are a number of different types of teleworking, which have different patterns of impacts. This has implications for in-work travel, which in some cases has increased as a result of teleworking. Some of the commuting savings are also being offset by additional personal journeys by almost half of the teleworkers and/or their households. And a large proportion of commute savings are in public transport rather than by car journeys. In the longer term too, some of the perceived advantages of teleworking – such as less interruption by interaction with colleagues in offices – may also have a down side of a less effective distribution of knowledge and/or sense of commitment to the organisation and colleagues. And the paradox of a positive quality of life being associated with longer working hours – when the opposite would normally be expected – means that BT must be on its guard. More time spent working is one thing when work is reasonably satisfying, well paid and the rest of life harmonious. But it can create stress and create dissatisfaction if other things begin to go wrong. Some critics – particularly if they are sympathetic to north European approaches to labour markets - may also feel that, rather than demonstrating a positive trade-off between some disadvantages and much greater benefits, the survey results reveal that a UK culture of excessive working hours is being made more marginally tolerable – but at the same time intensified - by being allowed to do them at home or while travelling rather than in offices. Few BT managers or, from the tone of their responses, only a minority of our 14 Although the survey does not address this issue, BT also believes that teleworking has significantly contributed to the considerable savings in office space it has achieved in recent years. 36
  37. 37. respondents would agree with this interpretation. As they are intelligent, well educated, professionals we believe that the majority – of very positive - voices should influence the interpretation of our findings. But it is important to remember that there are different perspectives on teleworking and not everyone will interpret the results in the same way. Of course, the benefits of teleworking can be maximised, and harmful effects can be minimised, by careful design, management and monitoring of telework initiatives. The present study provides a practical example of this being done at BT. However, there remains scope for further action. We therefore recommend that BT conducts further research to: 1. Compare a sample of teleworkers with non-teleworkers so that effects created by teleworking can be distinguished from those created by more general organisational changes 2. Better understand the environmental and social impacts of teleworkers who are not registered with workabout registrants (which is probably a much larger proportion of BT teleworkers) 3. Gain a more detailed understanding of the impacts of each of the teleworking sub-groups identified 4. Ascertain the extent to which teleworkers are working longer hours in total, and whether, if this is the case, anything can or should be done to help them to avoid this. 37
  38. 38. Appendix – Details of the Survey BT has an official scheme for teleworkers, known as workabout (previously Options 2000). Registrants receive free equipment and furniture for home offices, a helpline and other benefits. This survey was sent to all 5128 people registered with workabout in early March 2002. The current survey builds on, and replicates some of the questions from, previous surveys of new registrants to workabout. Based on this experience, a survey of the telework literature and discussions with BT, a questionnaire was developed to assess a variety of aspects of teleworking. In addition to the topics reported in this paper, questions were also asked on environmental impacts (primarily transport), effects on motivation and performance, and social impacts such as social inclusion. The full results will be published in the early autumn of 2002. The questionnaire was confidential, and hosted on a secure third party server/ it went through 3 piloting phases during January and February with around 15-25 BT workabout staff on each occasion. The final version can be viewed on A request to complete the questionnaire was emailed by BT workabout staff to the 5128 recipients in two batches in mid March 2002. As an incentive 100 £10 book vouchers were offered in a prize draw for those who completed the questionnaire. By the closing date a total valid response of 1865 had been received, providing a very good response rate of 36%, compared to 37% and 21% in the first two surveys.15 As can be seen from tables 14 and 15, the respondents were predominantly male and middle aged. The gender split closely matches that of BT as a whole, 24% of whose staff are female. Table 14 Gender of Respondents Male 1401 75.8% Female 448 24.2% TOTAL 1849 100.0% Table 15 Age of Respondents 16-24 41 2.2% 25-34 240 12.9% 35-44 813 43.6% 45-54 717 38.4% 54+ 54 2.9% TOTAL 1865 100.0% 15 Note that some respondents did not answer every question so that the numbers for total answers varies. 38
  39. 39. As table 16 shows, most respondents were long-standing BT employees. Over half the sample had worked for BT for more than 20 years and 20% more than 30 years. Although there are no overall BT figures to compare this with, anecdotal evidence suggests that the total BT workforce has probably been in post for less time than the sample. Table 16 Time in Post of Respondents Up to 1 years 35 1.9% 1.1-5 years 186 10.0% 5.1-10 years 153 8.2% 10.1-20 years 566 30.4% 20.1-30 years 667 35.9% 30.1-40 years 251 13.5% 40.1-50 years 2 0.1% TOTAL 1860 100.0% As table 17 shows, the sample was also well educated, with over a third being graduates. Table 17 Educational Qualifications of Respondents Post Graduate 285 15.3% Graduate 365 19.6% HND 144 7.7% HNC 255 13.7% Other 816 43.8% TOTAL 1865 100.0% In terms of household structure, 80% of the respondents live in a household with a partner. 42% have no child dependents. 17% have one, 31% two whilst 8% have 3 or more. Respondents worked full-time for a range of business units within BT: BT Retail 28% BT Wholesale 18% BT Ignite 15% BT Affinitis 9% BT Exact 3%. Asked to describe their job area against a pre-set list 50% classed themselves as managerial, 15% as sales. Marketing, admin, central support finance and field engineers each comprised around 3-5% of the sample. In addition respondents supplied a further 197 job descriptions/categories where they felt 39
  40. 40. the pre-set categories did not capture their titles which may reflect the rapid re-structuring and changes in job titles of people. BT divides teleworkers into those who are fixed (spending most of their time working at home) and those who are mobile (using home as a working base but travelling extensively to BT or customer premises). 60% of the survey respondents were mobile. This is lower than the 75% figure for all workabout respondents cited by BT, although their records are incomplete. Only 8% of the sample reported that they still have a main BT office, and only 1% responded that they had a dedicated desk at any BT office. Approximately half of respondents had been teleworking within BT for 2 years or less (21% less than 1 year), 20% more than 3 years. Table 18 Duration of Teleworking Amongst Respondents Less than 3 months 60 3.2% 3-6 months 97 5.2% 6-12 months 237 12.7% 12-24 months 612 32.9% 2-3 years 481 25.9% 3+ years 372 20.0% 100.0 TOTAL 1859 % 40