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How many teleworkers are there?

latest UK telework figures


And how many employers use eWork?

international statistics on ework from the EMERGENCE project


Asking this question is a bit like asking the length of a piece of string. Everything depends on how you define teleworking. It needs to be emphasised that there is currently no way that it is possible to come up with any hard-and-fast statistics on how many teleworkers there are because there is no universal stable definition which can be used as a basis for counting them. The best that any researcher can do is measure how many people there are who fall into certain categories. Nevertheless, whilst there are people interested in the answers to this question, there will always be attempts to measure teleworking, and certain common definitions are now beginning to emerge.

Employers use of eWork

The EMERGENCE project has already surveyed employers in the 15 EU countries, plus Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic and is currently carrying out fieldwork in Australia to find out the extent to which employers are using any form of delocalised work supported by information and communications technologies. This includes home-based employees, multilocational employees, 'e-lancers', remote back offices or call centres, telecottages, or outsourced eWork. The results from the first 18 countries can be compared here .

home-based and multi-locational teleworkers

In 1996, we reviewed the current evidence for the UK and made recommendations to the UK Government that some additional questions should be added to its 3-monthly Labour Force Survey to make it possible to monitor the numbers of people working from home, either fully or partially, using a telecommunications link and a computer. We are happy to announce that these recommendations have been followed, with the questions being asked twice a year.

For key findings from this survey, click here.

other forms of teleworking

The EMERGENCE project is continuing its research on the prevalence of other forms of delocalised telemediated work (or 'eWork') in 22 countries, including developing recommendations for statistics offices which will enable eWork to be monitored effectively at an international level. For further information about the project, click here

In the meanwhile, we have reviewed all the evidence which was available up to summer 1999 in Teleworking and Globalisation(Ursula Huws, Nick Jagger and Siobhan O'Regan), Report No 358, Institute for Employment Studies, Brighton, 1999, and in Where the Butterfly Alights: the Global Location of eWork (Ursula Huws and Nick Jagger) Institute for Employment Studies, Report No 378, 2001

call centres

We have reviews the evidence on the prevalence of call centres in Virtually There: the Evolution of Call Centres (Ursula Huws and Alan Denbigh), Mitel, Newport, 1999

other research

In the United States, the best source of information on teleworker numbers is Joanne Pratt's website, on http://www.joannepratt.com which reports on the latest surveys.

In 1992-93, Analytica carried out a series of surveys which provide information on the numbers of employers using teleworkers. This found that 12% of UK employers were using some home-based workers, with 5.8% using teleworkers. In this survey, teleworkers were defined as people who spent at least 50% of their time working from home; who had worked for the employer for at least 10 days in the previous months, who used both a telecommunications link and a computer in order to work and whose managers said they would be unable to work in this way without the technology

The research also found that teleworking was most likely to be found in the business and financial services sector and in public services.

This research has been published in the UK by the Employment Department under the title Teleworking in Britain, Research Series No 18, 1993

(click here for details of other research we have done on the quantification of teleworking)


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this page was last revised on September 26th, 2001
all contents of this page © Ursula Huws, 2001