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A Fifth of Telecommuters Work Less Than An Hour Per Day 323

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the don't-tell-my-other-boss dept.
MrCrassic writes "Working at home isn't vacation...or is it?" Quoting an article in The Register: "Almost one in five Americans who work from home only clock in for an hour or less a day, according to a survey, while a third stay in their pyjamas. Forty per cent of telecommuters say they work between four and seven hours, 17 per cent are doing the bare minimum and just 35 per cent are working eight or more hours, the CareerBuilder survey of 5,299 people revealed. ... Stay-at-home workers also said getting dressed for the day was far too strenuous: 41 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men — a third in total — stayed in their PJs."
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A Fifth of Telecommuters Work Less Than An Hour Per Day

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  • Bah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:38PM (#37459344) Homepage Journal

    Crap... all these years I've been coming in to the office to work that hard.
  • by Sparton (1358159) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:44PM (#37459386)

    Interesting that there's no indication of how much the people from this study make.

    Could it be presumed that the slackers working less than an hour a day are making a garbage wage?

    • by juggler314 (556575) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:48PM (#37459438)
      More likely it's just that they get their "real" work done in 1 hour/day, respond to crap e-mails sporadically the rest of the day. I know plenty of people that waste 6+ hours/day with bureaucracy/meetings/chit chat/whatever at the office. It's just that when you work at home...you do the same work, and then watch tv, or tend to the lawn, or whatever the rest of the time rather than dealing with office bullsh*t.
      • by eth1 (94901)

        Yeah, they kind of neglect to compare it to how much these same people work every day when they ARE in the office...

        • Bob Slydell: You see, what we're actually trying to do here is, we're trying to get a feel for how people spend their day at work... so, if you would, would you walk us through a typical day, for you?
          Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
          Bob Slydell: Great.
          Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh heh - and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.
          Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
          Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just
      • I had a job like that. I wouldn't be able to "Get in the zone" when coding because a meeting was scheduled every couple hours. We suffered from a manager that had to micro-manage people so much and was so afraid of the group not meeting deadlines that he actually demanded that we put in additional hours after hours to complete projects, even though he wasted our time several times a day.
    • by mini me (132455)

      Or maybe they are paid well enough that one hour of work is more than sufficient to support their lifestyle? There is no law that says you have to work eight hours per day.

      • by bar-agent (698856)

        Or maybe they are paid well enough that one hour of work is more than sufficient to support their lifestyle? There is no law that says you have to work eight hours per day.

        The only people I know who can do this are independent consultants or contractors, where they set their own hours. You may not need an 8 hour per day job at market rate to support your lifestyle, but no one offers 2 hour per day jobs.

        • by mini me (132455)

          I don't either, but the article seems to imply that one hour is what these people are expected to work. It is not a case of them working for one hour and claiming they worked eight, they are actually logging one hour. These people would be soon out of a job if the company had the expectation of eight hours per day.

        • Plenty of companies offer 2 hour a day jobs. It's just that they happen to think that they are 8 hour a day jobs. One of my friends worked at a senior position at a major bank in NYC. The place was filled with clueless people and inexperienced H1B's. In contrast, he's a top guy who knows his shit. He was easily able to crank through everything the bank expected from him and more in 2 hours per day.
        • by EdIII (1114411)

          but no one offers 2 hour per day jobs

          Sure they do. It is not explicitly stated though. What is stated is that you meet your goals on a day-to-day basis and the system keeps functioning.

          If that takes you 12 hours per day, than it is 12 hours. 15 minutes per day, than it is 15 minutes. Your pay is linked to performance and stability of the system you are retained to make work.

          So you might go a few weeks just watching a big screen for alerts and events while playing Halo and watching porn. Then something happens and you work 30 hours in a ro

      • by hedwards (940851)

        No, but most employers tend to fire employees that are clocked in and not working.

        • by Grygus (1143095)

          If "most employers" did that, we'd have massive unemploym...

          huh.

        • by mini me (132455)

          According to the article, the people in question are only clocked in for one hour per day. It is not a case of being on the clock and not working. It seems that one hour is the amount of time these people are expected to be working.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Few jobs, if any, are going to pay well enough to support oneself only being paid for one hour a week. Even professional musicians typically need to work longer hours than that.

            Off the top of my head, the only things I can think of involve organized crime and corporate deals, but I repeat myself.

            • by mini me (132455)

              Lots of telecommuting jobs are going to be tech-related in nature. $100,000 per year for a 40-hour per week programmer is a reasonable salary in today's market. At that same rate working one hour per day, that works out to about $17,500. Only a couple thousand short of the average income in my locality. You are not going to have all of the luxuries in life with that kind of income, but you'll have no trouble living.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              There's nothing in the article that says they are supporting themselves. I used to do some moonlighting supporting a guy's website. I worked at home and probably only averaged an hour per day. It doesn't mean I was lazy, it doesn't mean I was misleading him on the number of hours worked, and it doesn't mean I was making a living at it.

              If the Register surveyed freelance writers and found out they were only averaging an hour per day of work, nobody would assume they were fully employed or making much mon

            • Who says it is their primary source of income? Maybe they also have office jobs and telecommute for a part-time job. Maybe they have 20 different jobs they all work for 1-2 hours per week. You are really making a lot of assumptions here...
    • by jvin248 (1147821)


      A hacked study .. and misleading in oh so many ways.

      Many 'telecommuters' are filling part time jobs. So they only bill what they work. But they are still kind of 'on call' so never really 'done'.

      Employers won't spend huge hourly fees for most 'telecommuters' .. so don't worry about pay gaps.

      They can also have a dozen five minute calls spread throughout the day and then bill one hour. In an office they would get the same 'work quantity' but be stuck driving there and back again.

      These sorts of jobs
    • The summary says they clock an hour a day. It doesn't say they work one hour a day and clock 8. They could indicate that its a part time second job.
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tylersoze (789256) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:45PM (#37459400)

    How would it be any different if those employees were in the office? I'd bet they'd still only work one hour a day. And heck, if they are being given work that only takes an hour to complete (as opposed to not doing all the work they've been given) then more power to them. They can spend more time with their families and not waste time and gas commuting or being in the office.

    This kind of reminds me of the study that found only a small percentage of soldiers actually fired their weapons at the enemy during combat.

    • by tylersoze (789256)

      I should add I actually telecommute quite often (and freelance on the side as well) and put in about 80 hours a week and am compensated well for it, but I have coding job that requires all those hours. So I can't really imagine what a "normal" office drone type job is like, are there really 8 hours of actual work that needs to be done daily in those types of jobs?

      • Of course there aren't. That's why most of them don't get to telecommute, either. Their jobs are dumb bullshit that barely serves any purpose, and so most bosses intentionally refuse telecommuting so that their employees can "earn" their pay by suffering.

        Welcome to classism.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JonySuede (1908576)

        People like you that work two shifts are responsible for half of the high unemployment, the other half is the absence of decent working regulations that makes that type of ridiculously long shift illegal.

        You can't produce quality code at 80hr a week in a sustainable way. The only type of code that can be produce at that constant rhythm with a reasonable level of quality, would be the kind of code best left to a generator.

    • are being allowed to telework.

      Reports like this give me pause, do we know the requirements these surveyed people are under? Are they meeting deadlines? What do their employers think?

      If they are meeting the needs assigned to them by their employer then who cares how many hours they "log". I don't log as many hours as I work, and there are some that log more than they "work". It comes down to the needs of the business, if its satisfied then fine. If not, the wrong people are being permitted.

      I know where I wor

    • The question should be asked whether they achieve what is necessary in their work load not, how many hours they work. We I get to work from home I achieve as much in half a day as if I was at work, due to lack of interruptions. Does this mean I should work more or take the rest of the day off as a reward for being efficient?
    • Most people are productive in the morning then it dies off in the afternoon anyway, with many an afternoon spent playing solitaire or browsing the web. My guess is those that telecommute and only spend an hour working every day are telecommuting for a job that doesn't require more than an hour of work anyway, and its pretty much managements fault for having positions like this open rather than offloading several such people's jobs onto one person. Having worked at a University on the administration side for
    • How would it be any different if those employees were in the office?

      You don't get to wear your pajamas.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      As Peter Gibbons explains:

      Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late. I use the side door, that way Lumbergh can't see me. Uh, and after that, I just sorta space out for about an hour. I just stare at my desk but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too. I'd probably, say, in a given week, I probably do about fifteen minutes of real, actual work.

      Although the bit about how many soldiers fire during combat might have something to do with many people's general moral revulsion in killing other people, not so much laziness.

      • by tylersoze (789256)

        Well I wasn't trying to equate not killing someone with laziness. :) More like how it is surprising how a small percentage are "doing all the work", or not, as the case may be.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)

      This kind of reminds me of the study that found only a small percentage of soldiers actually fired their weapons at the enemy during combat.

      If we read the same source, it continued by saying that after WWII, the basic training of infantries included a psychological training to give to every soldier a bit of the killer instinct.

      I hope they do not get to the same solution the workplace.

      BTW, I am working from home, and procrastination, while a problem, is balanced by guilt. I usually do in the evening what I was supposed to do in the morning.

      I try to not stay in pajama but what is the problem, exactly ? During summer I have worked most day

  • by prgrmr (568806) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:45PM (#37459402) Journal
    4 out of 5 respondents to surveys on CareerBuilder lie on surveys.
  • From what I've seen, office workers are really working 4-7 hrs mostly, too.

    So 75% of people work at home like they work in the office. Seems like telecommuting can be made to work well enough if you do productivity monitoring.

    And heck, if you can do 8 hours of work at home in 2 hours, why not get 8 hours of pay! The key is productivity.

    --PM

    • by blair1q (305137)

      It's called "underemployment," and if it ever bubbles up into the economic argument, it's going to cause a shitstorm.

  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:46PM (#37459420)
    Who can doubt the results of such a scientifically valid survey? Surely it must be accurate. My guess is most of those filling out the survey were doing it from their cubicles at work, pissed off that one of their co-workers was working from home.
    • A lot of us (Myself Included) prefer to work at the office vs. at home.
      It gets me out of the house, see and hear different people. Keeps my sleep schedule running smoothly etc...

      Home is a place of rest and relaxation, where family matters take priority. Work is a place of energy and work, where family matters are put aside.

      • I had a job where there were so many god damn meetings I actually couldn't get work done, so I would typically just telecommute and relax while working. I was a coder for a research group at a University so sitting there with a beer (yeah, after noon that is), listening to music and coding was pretty relaxing for me.
  • While never explicitly stated, the OP seems to indicate that the telecommuters are getting away with murder by working only 1 hour on an 8 hour shift. Perhaps they are part time workers, or were only hired to log a few hours per week?
    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's sort of the thing, there are sites like flexjobs out there that help people find part time telecommuting jobs for some spare pocket money. It wouldn't surprise me if there aren't a significantly larger number of employees that are paid to work a few hours a week than full time.

  • Looking around any office I've been in, I'm sure these stats probably match up with how people are working in offices as well.
  • I don't wear pajamas when I sleep, and I generally am only in my underwear around the house. However, its not really a sloth thing. When I work from home I might get dressed, drive my wife to work, get undressed when I return, dress to go to lunch at the local deli, and undress on my return. Getting dressed is not a demarcation that my day is started, its a demarcation that I am leaving the house. It will be different when I have kids, and was different when I lived with my parents of course.
    • ...or when we're testing video chat solutions. /awkward_moments_in_professional_history
  • Ever since I started working from home for 3/5 days, I put in my normal time but, since I've got the code, I always end up coming back to it later in the evening for another hour or four...

    I'm clearly doing it wrong...

  • by Roogna (9643) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:54PM (#37459502)

    My experience over the years is that one in five probably do work only an hour a day. The catch is, it's absolutely true of the non-telecommuters as well. I remember there always being a few employees who were "well liked" by management so never went away, but yet spent their days goofing off and doing the minimum required to keep their jobs. Being -at- a desk for 8 hours in an office, is not the same as working productively.

    Meanwhile, owning my own company now, I work as hard as I have to keeping my company successful.

  • only clock in for an hour or less a day

    None of those people run their own freelance business. There are days when I'm writing from 7:30 in the morning to 8 or 9 at night and I have to quit because my hands are cramping.

    If I only booked an hour a day I would starve. If you're going to work at home, you really have to be a self-motivated person.

    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      Do you think maybe you work too much? I work from home about 25 hours a week, and it pays the bills. I'm pretty happy with it.

      • I work from home about 25 hours a week, and it pays the bills. I'm pretty happy with it.

        I guess! 25 hours a week would be like a vacation.

        Maybe I need to charge more....

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      They wouldn't be clocking in if they were running their own business.

      Instead they're likely employed to do data entry or whatever for an hour a day and paid for an hour a day. Not that uncommon for the stay at home parent to do in the hour that the kids are occupied.

  • If they are only reporting actual worked hours then 4 per day makes them as productive as an office bound drone. MSFT has a concept they push called "Core Hours" or did some time back. The core hours that can be scheduled in normal expectation is 20 per week. The rest is taken up by the social miscellany of office life.

    Personally I work almost all my contracts from home, lately doing either software forensics or Apple iOS development, and I work a pretty solid 8-10 hours each day, sometimes more. Sometime
  • by UdoKeir (239957) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @03:02PM (#37459594)
    This video explains the phenomena: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co_DNpTMKXk [youtube.com]
  • Those telecommuters who work the time that they report have honest work ethics. If they only work 3 hours one day and report 3 hours, then the next day they work 15 hours and note that as 15 hours, then in 2 days time they worked more than most people did that went into the office. If a company receives the same productivity from a telecommuting employee as they would if they were in the office, does it really matter? The company has just save $$ on office space.

    And those who stay in their PJ's who get u

    • Sometimes there is simply nothing to do. When our help-desk queue is empty, I don't have much I can do so I typically spend some time trying to figure something out, then I give up and go do something else around the house while monitoring my PC. This happens periodically, but most days I telecommute I work the entire day.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @03:09PM (#37459688)

    So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

    • At my work, they pay us competitively, give us profit sharing, buy us lunch once a month, and pay for us to go on monthly excursions like massages and stuff. They also pay for us to go to a different city and work once a year for a week, and pay for a company vacation once a year for a weekend at a resort or ranch without expecting any of that bullshit team-building exercise stuff. We just hang out and get sloshed. I still make about average wage for a US household, but I do notice this sort of treatment ma
  • how much time is waiting for others to work there part / call backs?

    I have been on IT projects where I have waiting longs times for people on the other end to get back to be / work on back end issues that are getting in the way of doing the projects on the user end.

  • Why does it matter if we stay in our pajamas? How am I less effective if I spend my time working rather than grooming?

    This is a typical anti-labor attack. Try to build a movement against a pro-worker stance by coming up with a laundry list of complaints that make other envious and/or disgusted.

    If I only work an hour a day at home. Then my employer shouldn't be wondering what he's paying me for. He should be wondering why he's paying rent on a building for 7 unproductive hours a day for my co-workers.

    • Or he should be thinking why he has 7 employees only working 1 hour a day rather than 1 employee working 7.
  • What about jobs where you set something and have to just look over it as it runs and after the run you set the next batch now that can end up being a job with 1-2 hours of real work and 7-6 of just sitting back and let stuff run.

  • Hardwire them to a central consciousness and eliminate their free will, then command them to . . . do, uh, what? I don't know, that's why we hired them, isn't it? Not sure. Perhaps if we hire a consultant . . .
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @03:22PM (#37459860)

    Disclaimer: I AM telecommuting today and I AM reading Slashdot right now...

    Seriously, though - what's with the "getting dressed for the day was far too strenuous" tripe? I wear sweats or shorts when I work from home - so what? What's wrong with being comfortable?

    I suppose they'd also complain that people like me are sitting on the couch rather than on a hard wooden chair. Also, I have a window open and am enjoying the breeze - maybe I should relocate into a closet instead.

    This "study" is garbage. At the end of the day I'll give my boss a list of what I worked on today - just like I do every time I work from home. He's happy with my performance, and recognizes I can focus on longer-term tasks much better when I don't have the near-constant interruptions of the office environment. I just wish I knew who commissioned that study - should I ever leave my current job, I don't want to bother applying to that old geezer.

  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @03:22PM (#37459866)

    This particular logical fallacy is called Fallacy of false cause [wikipedia.org]. The mistake is in assuming that telecommuting causes people to work one hour per day in their pajamas. In fact: 1) I have observed people working considerably less than an hour per day, on site, at Google among other places, and 2) I have observed people working on site in their pajamas.

    The bottom line is, if someone is determined to dissipate their productivity, it does not matter where they are physically located, they will be successful at it.

  • some job are like firemen where you are waiting for the call.

    Now some help desk / IT tasks can be like that where mainly people are there to cover calls / issues that come up as well working on longer term projects and on a slow days you may only have 1-2 hours of real work to do.

  • by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @03:28PM (#37459960)
    Not the question of whether telecommuters goof off. I mean that management hasn't a clue.

    As far as I can tell, it's extremely rare for senior management to have any idea what the actual staff do, or especially what value they bring to the company. As far as most senior management know, their employees primarily produce warm chair seats. It follows that the only differences between employees in any job category is:
    1) How many hours the seat stays warm, and
    2) How much it costs to keep the chair warm.

    Thus, the principal employee quality metric is hours/dollar because most employees keep chairs at nearly the same temperature. Longer hours are good, and it's an added bonus to not have to pay for the chairs. An employee who works from home is presumably keeping a chair warm even more than one who comes to the office, so the best possible employee is one who will accept a low wage (typically entry-level in someplace like Nigeria; the chair-warming learning curve isn't terribly steep) and who answers e-mails at all hours of the day, night, and weekend.

  • Telecommuters work on a fifth.

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @03:55PM (#37460342)
    Employers who would embrace telecommuting and give up old, stodgy, antiquated views of working would find that their costs go down because they need not have expensive office space with upkeep, utility bills, etc. Meetings can be done via video conference. The wonders of VOIP allow people to have office phones. It is stubborn, old-fasioned thinking and outmoded management philosophies that force people into an office. An insurance company that I know closed down its office-based claims processing center and let everyone work from home. Turnover went down by a large factor. The minimum time in employment averaged 6 years.
  • by Loosifur (954968) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @04:12PM (#37460544)

    Obviously this depends on what you do for a living, but working less than an hour a day doesn't mean that you're not productive, or, more to the point, that you're not delivering a product to your employer that's worth what you're paid. I telecommute, and depending on what deadlines are approaching, or how much work across the entire project there is to be done, I might work anywhere from 1 to 10 hours in a day. I'm salaried; I'm paid to put forth a certain quantity of deliverables, and to a lesser extent, simply to be available. If I worked in customer service, for example, I could understand being worried about putting in X number of hours, but I've always felt that most of the point of telecommuting was the ability to make your own schedule, more or less.

    • ...working less than an hour a day doesn't mean that you're not productive, or, more to the point, that you're not delivering a product to your employer that's worth what you're paid.

      I once worked in a large organization where we shuffled paper. Literally. I'd get a file folder, put the forms in order, dispose of duplicates, fill out a summary sheet for the terminal operator to input into a dumb terminal connected to a mainframe half a state away, bind it all together and stick it in my outbox.

      We had

  • by blunte (183182) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @04:20PM (#37460624)

    I don't know any _real_ telecommuters, at least not developers, who would ever be compelled to click on anything related to CareerBuilder. Thus, this survey obviously only attracted monkeys. Worse yet, it is/will be picked up by news sites and used to dissuade companies from considering allowing workers to work remotely.

    I say this survey was entirely bunk and unscientific. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the results weren't purely made up by a hungry "writer".

  • by owlnation (858981) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @04:25PM (#37460698)
    The amount of time spent doing work is irrelevant. The important thing, is what amount of work is done within any deadline set.

    Measuring employees clocking in and out is an archaic way of managing. It was something developed in the Industrial Revolution where employees were near slaves. Measure work done, and its quality, set tasks accordingly, set deadlines accordingly, require set times for meetings etc, but that's all you need to do.

    Secondly, fire all HR staff. Yes, ALL of them. They are a worthless cost center that kills productivity and quality. Small businesses do not have HR staff, they tend to hire better quality employees. They tend to manage employees better. With the technology currently available there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that supervisors and managers can't actually do real managing, and take care of anything and everything that HR does -- and do a much better job of it too. The only purpose of HR now, is for weak managers to use them as a CYA excuse. But HR does nothing else but cost money and kill quality, productivity and innovation. HR is probably the single biggest fail, and brake, on the world's economy.

    Nobody EVER grows up wanting to work in HR. They have all failed at something else, most of them also have an huge chip on their shoulder. They are failed people. Fire ALL of them everywhere, and watch the economy grow, if not surge.

    There's no reason why most people need to work in offices most of the time. Anything desk or phone based could be done at home. Considering the massive cost to the environment of all those cars going to business parks, city centers and the like, and the increasing personal cost to employees of fuel etc, It's also often quieter and easier to work at home, with less distractions. Open plan offices are hellish places in which to concentrate. Telecommuting is an excellent solution to a lot of business problems. Not to mention that your business may well get access to much better quality employees who live too far away to work for you in person.

    Other than bad management, and bad economics, there's no reason why telecommuting isn't massively more prevalent in modern businesses and organizations. It's the future... if only HR would allow organizations to hire good enough managers to make it happen.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @05:36PM (#37461628) Homepage Journal

    If these workers are on the clock, then the employers are getting shafted.

    The way to fix it is to have performance based pay. Here is a piece of work: do this work and you get this pay.

    That's the way I am outsourcing some of the work nowadays, so it doesn't matter how many hours are spent working or watching porn (as your metered TV apparently shows now.)

There must be more to life than having everything. -- Maurice Sendak

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