In recent years, new technologies such as the Internet, mobile telephony and the fax have enabled the development of telecommuting.
This means working outside the office, usually from home. According to a study conducted by the INSEE* in March 2009, “telecommuting is more developed in the tertiary sector: in services related to information and communications technologies (ICT), 55% of enterprises practice it, and 49% do so in the financial services sector. Telecommuting is also highly present in services to enterprises, in intellectual services such as consulting and advertising”. In 2012, 17% of workers in France* engaged in telecommuting, while 60% of enterprises offered greater flexibility in managing their work, according to a study by Bain & Co.
Telecommuting is fashionable and presents numerous advantages. The motivations are identical for women and men. This way of working can help improve productivity when people organize their day the way they want. It can be easier to concentrate outside the office, without being interrupted or bothered by colleagues, notably in open-space offices.
Among other advantages for telecommuters: the reduction of cost and time commuting to work. And for the enterprises, it can reduce their operating costs (less need for office space can mean lower rental costs, for example).
Detractors of telecommuting could counter-argue by pointing to the difficulties of distinguishing professional from private life. This trend can be more noticeable among women, claims Terry Hartig of the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
Not all business leaders are advocates of telecommuting. One high-profile example is the director of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, who has banned the practice so that all company employees can feel the dynamic of working together as a team. Women are a bit more numerous than men in considering the absence of work colleagues as a main disadvantage of telecommuting.
Originally, telecommuting seemed designed more for women, but today this way of working is attracting more and more men. The likelihood that a woman works out of her home does not depend on whether she has children, or their number. Telecommuters, whether men or women, seek a new way of organizing their work for the benefit of their own personal development as well as that of their employer.