back to article US survey: 1 in 5 telecommuters work an hour or less a day

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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as opposed to office-based workers

    who look like they are working 7+ hours a day but in reality 6 of those are spent on the web - e.g. posting on forums, much as I am doing now...

    1. noroimusha

      2 or more

      get more screens and you can work in the same time ! or browse more effectively !

      my coat is the one with 2 screens built in

    2. Dug Stokes

      I was going to post a similar experience - I work harder from home than I did trying not to in the office.

    3. Elmer Phud

      Give us a break!

      "in reality 6 of those are spent on the web - e.g. posting on forums, much as I am doing now..."

      and the other hour is actually taken up with fag breaks.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      posting on forums, much as I am doing now

      You obviously don't work for a BigCo that logs and reviews Internet activity taking place thru the corporate servers. Otherwise you would probably find yourself working from home.

  2. MeRp

    Children aren't a distraction for telecommuters because...

    Anyone with children knows that they will get nothing done if they try to telecommute, therefore they do not telecommute unless they are already sufficiently motivated to not get anything done anyway (regardless of children).

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    PJ is the first mistake

    Your home office is still an office, you have to get out of your PJs and get into some more reasonable attire if you want to get any work done. It is part of the routine which puts you in the mood to work. If you stay in your PJs I am not surprised that you are clocking 1h.

    Also, there is more than one way to look at the results. Pets may take an hour or two out of your day, but so will the corporate gym. Running after your dog is for some reason sniggered upon and requires special management attention. At the same time disappearing into the gym in the company basement to lift some weights or play squash for an hour does not.

    Ditto for the chores. Chopping wood for the stove if you happen to be working from somewhere away from the civilization is no different from lifting weights in the company gym. In fact it is probably better for your physical and mental health than lifting weights (imagine various different things placed on the chopping stump before smacking them with an axe - works a treat).

    In any case, I know plenty of people who put less than 1h of real work per day while spending 10h daily in the office so you might as well send them to do that at home and save on the electricity bill :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Put me down for one of these jobs, please...

      How do I get one of these cushy numbers, please? Can't be in IT, technology or Engineering. Well, certainly not at the productive end of this coal face, anyway!

      Define "real work" while your at it. Barristers charge for thinking time, I understand.

  4. CraPo

    Menial? More like manual!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't comment...

    I can't comment on this as I'm at home, working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No problem

      ...just wait an hour and you'll be done for the day. After that, feel free to comment away!

  6. 1Rafayal

    I am going to get burned for this, but...

    Honestly, did anyone think that working from home was not a bit of a skive?

    I dont want to tar all home workers with the same brush, but each time I have been working with a colleague who works from home, they have hardly ever been doing what they were supposed to be doing. They have either not been responsive on Skype, not replying to their emails or they havent been picking up their mobile.

    I am sure that there are homeworkers out there who are not on the skive at all, but in my experience other things continually distract them.

    Even when I have worked from home myself, I have always found ways of getting around the actual work angle.

    Beer. As if I were working from home, it would be with a few cold ones. In my PJ's as well...

    1. WorkingFromHome

      Not always

      Our team has people working from home and people who work partly from home. It works well - most of the time.

      Obviously working from home has it's problems and people could skive off, but people can come in the office and effectively do nothing too.

      The key to home workers is to manage results not time - set a number of required tasks, a deadline and there is your basis for managing them. It kind of depends on your line of business, but assuming it doesn't have to be done 9-5 then who cares if they decide to work one evening so they can go to the park the next morning?

      Results count.

  7. Simon Harris

    Bet I'm not the first...

    ... to bring up that Mitchell and Webb 'Working at Home' sketch...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm self employed and work from home about half the time and I have to say its absolutely true; bit stuck on something dull? Crack one off. The other great distraction used to be the cricket till Rupert took that from us.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't really like working from home, I feel so much more responsible for how my time gets used.Wasted time while at the office just doesn't feel like my responsibility.

    (Posted from work)

  9. Red Bren

    17 per cent are doing the bare minimum?

    I think you mean "17 per cent are working the hours they are paid for."

    Similarly, 35% are working for nothing.

    Pass me the dressing gown...

  10. gerryg

    Dilbert got there first At Home

    I can't find my favourite in which he's unshaven, in a dressing gown holding a glove puppet of a clean shaven alter ego to a webcam for a meeting

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Think you mean this one.

    2. Olafthemighty

      @ gerryg

      Here you go:

      You're welcome!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I believe you mean this one:

      A classic, I agree

  11. xyz Silver badge

    Take my girlfriend...

    ...whose idea of teleworking is to snuggle up with her Kindle 'til about 09:30, have a shower, get dressed, switch her laptop on, check her emails, do some gardening or painting or some housework, have lunch, look for something to buy on the web, make a couple of calls, quit for the day.

    Drives me insane, as I try to crank out code under a tight deadline at a fixed price.

    1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      I don't get it

      That boils down to awful management... a coworker tried a similar "schedule". It worked fine for him for maybe two weeks. After that, management addressed the situation: he got a stern warning letter and the promise that next time he'll get the pink slip. Problem fixed.

      Personally I didn't like the situation. Supposedly, we are all adults here and shouldn't be threatened to do what we are supposed to do, but I guess there's people that mentally never leaves primary school...

      In any case, if a person can log in for just 1 hour a day and nobody notices, the company has far greater problems than just lazy workers...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If you want me to take your girlfriend you best post a photo first.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Take my girlfriend"

      no thanks

      1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

        Take My Wife...


  12. Ru

    Bare Minimum?

    Seems to me that if they're still allowed to telecommute and still getting paid, then they are working exactly as much as they need to.

    Either they're doing a job which has no means of evaluating how much work is actually done, or their supervisors/managers/whoever cannot be bothered to check on their own minions or people only really do a few hours of productive work every day.

    My other half runs a software business, and keeps a very careful eye on the output of the employees. Lazy employees rapidly lose telecommuting benefits until they pull themselves together.

    (personally, I'm glad my employer is a little more lenient)

  13. Tom_

    So what?

    This just shows that some people can get their work done in an hour per day if they're not worn out by having to commute or distracted by useless meetings, bored colleagues or visits from the boss.

  14. adnim

    Eighteen hours one day

    Then 2 days off.

    Working from home suits me fine. I work when I feel like it, yet still manage to meet deadlines.

    Sometimes I am motivated, sometimes I am not. I can do more work in an hour when I feel like it, than I can manage in several hours if I don't.

    I am self employed so there is always motivation do at least a little bit of work every day, or every other day ;-) Saturday and Sunday are just days like the other five though, except the phone doesn't ring.

    After years of being a mobile service engineer, then five years of commuting 3-4 hours a day to and from my place of work. I find I am a lot less stressed.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. CADmonkey

    but i don't wear pyjamas

  16. AndrueC Silver badge

    Meh, they're probably still more productive than at the office. Actually I find I work longer hours with more breaks. Sadly they'd still rather I make the 12 mile trip into the office - even though we're part of a trans-Atlantic software development team and technically we're always 'remote'.

  17. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Don't worry....

    This is a tech site - the PHBs wouldn't be seen dead reading anything here, there's not enough slides and buzzphrases. Our secret is safe.....

  18. Dazed and Confused

    Working from home

    I'd find it very difficult to get away with only working 1 hour or so a day when working from home, but starting the day in my dressing gown (I don't own any PJs) isn't un-common and I know the people I work with do the same.

    Till we need to work via video link, why worry about how you are dressed?

    Particularly when using tele-working to timezone shift. If you are working "in" Singapore and starting at 01:00, saving the time to get dressed till first break time makes a real difference to life.

    You can then slot in a full days work and be done by 9 in the morning.

    Personally I'm allergic to mornings but there is something to be said for finishing when everyone else is starting work. You can then get down to some really serious procrastination without having to worry.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    if watching heroic quantities of porn is a chore, you're not doing it right

    1. Elmer Phud


      Dunno about you but it can leave me exhausted.

      1. Scott 53


        It certainly takes it out of you

  20. G R Goslin


    I suppose that all this would be relevant if you could call working in an office, working. Which I don't. Working is doing something useful and adding value. 'working' in an office is purely adding cost, and at best is merely assisting those who are adding value.

    1. Steven Roper

      So what do you do?

      Carpenter? Plumber? Electrician? Brickie's labourer? Transport driver? All these are the kinds of people who do "real" work, right?

      As someone who works in an office I take exception to your remark, which illustrates a lack of understanding of the need for planning and project management. So let's say you're one of the above professions, and you have to help build a building. Without the the architects and engineers sitting in their offices "purely adding cost", how does the carpenter know exactly where to nail his planks? How much pipe does the plumber need, how big, and where is he to lay it? What cables does the electrician require, and where is he to lay them?

      You seem not to realise this, but it's actually important that somebody sits at a desk and works out and writes down exactly what materials are required, how much of them are required, where they have to be put, to what standards, in order to have a project that doesn't bear a passing resemblance to a Jenga pile for all of the 30 seconds it can actually stand up.

      Somebody also has to keep all of that paperwork organised, so tradies like you can actually find the relevant pieces you need to do your jobs. Others have to sit down and design the programs that assist with the organisation of said paperwork, keep people involved in the project in contact with each other and bring in the customers that the project was built to service in the first place. Yes, we office monkeys have a lot of real work to do that you seem not to appreciate.

      Without people in offices "adding cost", you "hands-on" types wouldn't have any work to do, because you wouldn't have a clue about what you need or where to begin. Now I have a lot of respect for "hands-on" trades, because these are expert jobs requiring just as much skill, experience and mastery as any desk job, in some cases more so. I've posted elsewhere about the importance of such trades. But a little respect for us "pen-pushers" as well would go a long way towards eliminating the "them and us" syndrome that plagues many modern workplaces, no?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Steven Roper

        Good point well made but please don't feed the trolling dinosaur - you will only disturb their prejudices and confuse them.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Starting and Finishing the working day

    Working from home often blurs the start and end of the working day. It may start with morning emails at 8 followed by a conference call in pyjamas, and will often go on late if the muse is upon one, but be interspersed with a trip out to pick children up from school. If it fits round getting stuff done and producing output it's not skiving.

  22. peyton?


    This survey did only poll those who are *supposed* to work 8 hours, right? 'Cos you can work part time, or be contracted simply to have X ready to deliver on Y. These scenarios do not mean someone is being dishonest by not working 8 hours a day.

    Also, a lot of places are work seven + one hour for lunch = 8.

    Also, did they ask how many people work at the weekend to bring their total closer to 40 hours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      who did they ask? - job hunting online. Did anyone really expect that people looking for a differnent job are going to be busting their asses for the job they're trying to get out of?

      I've worked from home for 3 years. At the start, it took me about 2 weeks to go from working-from-home to working-from-coffeeshop/bar-with-wifi. Then I got a cellular card for my laptop and instead of being tied to a bar, I relocated to a city park. Now that I've been working from the house, whether from the living room or outside on the deck, I'm usually working about 18 hours/day.

      Anonymous because I don't want my employer to think he was paying me to drink.

  23. disgruntled yank

    Don't know

    Having now and then made the mistake of staying on the phone with a pollster, I wonder how accurately most people answer the questions. I don't aim to mislead, but I do make some pretty rough guesses.

    But the graphics in the manner of USA Today are certainly a confidence builder.

  24. Pete 43
    Thumb Down


    dont tell the boss

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talk about statistics spin... I think the article is a bit misleading.

    "17 percent do the bare minimum" I gather that is our "almost 1 in 5" but just shy of double that (35%) do more than 8 hours (which we'll take as the normal work day).

    Sounds like telecommuting is more effective on average to me.

  26. skeptical i

    As long as I deliver the goods when required, I don't see why it matters ...

    ... whether I work one hour one day and 15 the next or eight hours each day, dressed in shirt and tie, my jammies, or starkers. At least at the house I am not interrupted by bored co-workers and their useless chitchat, pointless meetings, and so on, and can better juggle "work stuff" with "life stuff" (chores, errands, what-have-you) although I'll grant this might be more of a challenge for those with roommates, spouses, sprogs, pets, and other beings capable of actively causing distraction. Only downside is I have to pay for the coffee and snacks that come free on employer premises.

    1. blcollier

      I don't usually have the option of working from home, but I needed to be at home for a few days a couple of weeks ago; I checked out a spare laptop so I could work from home, as I was busy as hell. I got more done in one day than the average week in work. No distractions, no email constantly popping up all the time (don't have VPN - I'm not important enough), nobody randomly asking me questions about something I worked on two years ago that has nothing to do with what I'm doing now... I didn't even do a "full" day's worth of work; I was only working for around 5 hours each day, but I managed to get so much more done.

      I guess it comes down to trust. Employers need to trust that their staff will actually get the work done, and staff have the responsibility not to abuse that trust. This is exactly the opinion of my employer (or at least my immediate managers).

      As long as the work gets done on time, gets done properly and I don't take the piss then they're fine. Consequently, I'm often ducking out maybe 10/15 minutes early on a Friday and no one cares - as long as I've done everything I needed to. I'm usually out having a quick smoke break every hour or so and there's no problem at all - even my manager is usually there with me. Similarly if we're busy and completely snowed under with work, I will put in the extra hours, work through lunch and generally work my boll*cks off (of course I do get overtime or time in lieu).

      I still hate my job, but at least they're a good company to work for.

  27. jake Silver badge

    On the gripping hand ...

    I've put in about 200 hours at home in the last twelve days.

    I haven't been off the ranch since the 8th, I only need 4 hours sleep per day, and the only time I'm not "working"[1] is when I'm showering/cooking[2]/eating.

    Side note: Here in the office, I have two desks. One is for Ranch business, the other is for my computer consulting business. The wife & dawgs know not to disturb me when I'm at the consulting desk, unless it's an emergency. Compartmentalization is key in any home office.

    [1] For values of "working with dawgs & horses" equaling "working" ;-)

    [2] Some would call my cooking for the staff "working", but I personally find it relaxing. As always, YMMV.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ... my hero ...

      I expect a lot of the other people here can differentiate between telecommuting for an employer and working for oneself (regardless of location). Clue: motivation may be a factor.

  28. Herby

    So while I'm reading ElReg...

    In between my watching of TV (it is right across the room) and browsing all over the web, and then I get delivered my lunch. Of course there IS the occasional interruption, when the wife walks in and suggests something that is NSFW (lucky for me!) and I get delayed an hour or two.

    The other problem is that I usually get started after the hours with single digits pass by, but that is another problem.

  29. Graham 25

    Its all down to the individual

    I have been working at home now for two years and find I am a lot more productive overall. Yes I have quiet days (like today, train in an hour so not much worth doing before then) whereas other days its 0800 to 2000 with stops for lunch and dinner with the better half acting as tea lady and cook.

    Saturday and Sunday have become like old style work days - we never shop on those days as the 9-5 bunch are clogging up the shops so we either do the accounts, garden or anything else that keeps us at home. No point going out when everyone else is blocking the roads.

    I am lucky to have a full office at home, so its easier to hide away and as I hate most crap on the TV, daytime TV is no attraction at all.

    There is no right and wrong, just people making choices.

  30. daveeff

    US survey, YOU ESS - the guys in the offices there work an hour a day if you're lucky. US culture is to spend 12 hours a day at the office to make it look like you're a hard worker, not actually do anything.

    The problem with home working is when you are not working you are obviously not working. Talking about the weather is work if with colleagues in the office, but not if with your wife in the kitchen. Not the dumb way "work" measured. The point is what gets done, not the hours "clocked on".

    As for working in PJ's - when did code quality rely on what you are wearing? Would Hamlet only be good if Shakespeare was dressed when he wrote it?

    Anyway, according to hollywwod t-shirts always out-hack suits ;-)


  31. blcollier

    Misleading interpretation of results

    Oh and by the way, I just took a look at the source for the story - it would have been nice if they'd presented a data set I could download instead of just an infographic, but I guess we can't have everything.

    The number of people working over 8 hours a day from home rose from 18% in 2007 to 35% in 2011 - an increase of 17%, which is nearly double the original figure. Whereas the number of people working an hour or less has risen from 15% in 2007 to 17% in 2011 - an increase of only 2%.

    If you look at the lower bracket of 4-7 hours work, that figure has gone down; but it also means that 75% of home workers are working at least 4 hours a day. I only officially work for 6.5 hours a day (1 hour unpaid lunch, 30mins worth of paid breaks); 6.5 isn't much more than 4, and you can be far more productive at home than you can at work. Plus there are almost as many people working more than 8 hours as there are working between 4 to 7 hours.

    The figures tell me that people working from home are generally doing far MORE work than they were 4 years ago. That's not the interpretation I read in the article. The article seems to gloss over the fact that the number of people working an hour or less has only risen by a measly 2%, whereas the number of people working their balls off has nearly doubled.

    It pays to check the data yourself.

  32. defiler

    Working from home right now

    Last week I put in a couple of 10pm finishes (at home) because of a job that needed done. This weekend I expect to be doing some VM overhauling (from home). Next week I expect to be working late to do some physical server moves (dammit - that'll be in the office then).

    Yep, I'll have a slack day sometimes at home, but generally I work hard when I'm here. I have an office where I can remain undisturbed, and I can still pop downstairs to see the kids at any time I have a spare 5 mins.

    In fact, I previously spent a couple of weeks working "at home", jumped on a train, and spent a week at a mate's house. Still had my laptop and my mobile, so what's the problem? Still got the work done.

  33. guitarman


    "Commuting at a distance" doesn't make much sense.

    Teleworking surely? Or teleskiving.

    1. Anonymous Coward 15


  34. Dave 15

    I wonder ...

    As I am sitting here waiting for my computer to do its number crunching and surfing this website... I wonder just what the stats would show of all the office drones. I bet there are a much larger number who actually are productive far less than 1 hour a day in the stiffling uniformity, stuffy atmosphere, artificially lit offices most of us survive in.

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