New Metro Atlanta Commuter Survey Shows Dramatic Jump in Teleworking

Teleworking increases by more than a third, frequent teleworkers increase by 75 percent

(ATLANTA, GA — 02.24.11)

A recent survey of metro Atlanta commuters shows that the fastest-growing means of getting to work is turning on a computer, not turning a key in the ignition.

  • Twenty-seven percent of commuters now telework at least occasionally, compared to 20 percent in 2007 – a 35 percent increase in just three years.
  • Moreover, the percentage of frequent teleworkers has increased by 75 percent, with seven percent of all commuters now teleworking at least three days a week.

This growth in teleworking is part of an overall increase in the number of employees choosing commute alternatives as their primary means of getting to work.  Since 2007, the percentage of commuters who carpool, vanpool, take transit, ride a bike, walk or telework three or more days per week to work has increased by more than 20 percent.  Eighteen percent of all commuters – or more than 400,000 people – now choose an option other than driving alone to work.

These data are taken from the 2010 Metro Atlanta Regional Commuter Survey, which asked more than 4,000 workers about their commuting patterns.  The survey was conducted by the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), an Atlanta based nonprofit, on behalf of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), and reveals at least two additional measures of the region’s growth in teleworking.

  • Teleworking has now overtaken carpooling as the most popular primary commute alternative in metro Atlanta (growing from 30 percent in 2007 to 40 percent in 2010).
  • More people are teleworking full-time.  Nearly one-fifth of teleworkers (17 percent) work remotely five or more days per week.  In 2007, only 10 percent of teleworkers did so. (Note: This figure does not include self-employed people who work at home.)

“We were really pleased to see teleworking make such significant gains in the region,” said Kevin Green, executive director of The Clean Air Campaign, “but we weren’t necessarily surprised.  Getting telework to be accepted by more employers as a workplace strategy has been a major emphasis for our organization and its partners.  It’s great to see that work paying off.  Telework is a ‘win-win’ strategy whose time has come.”

A number of factors can be credited with spurring telework growth.  The Clean Air Campaign and the region’s transportation management associations (TMAs) have provided free professional telework consulting services since 2004.  That program has helped more than 250 employers establish telework programs.  In 2008, the state of Georgia became the first in the country to offer a telework tax credit for employers.

Telework has also likely been growing due to the inherent benefits of telework programs.  Teleworking has been shown to increase productivity, reduce overhead and boost employee morale.  And as many employers discovered during the recent winter weather that crippled metro Atlanta, telework programs play a vital role in business continuity.

“Last month’s weather is a perfect example of how important it is to give employees the ability to work remotely,” added Green.  “With many workers house-bound for up to a week, employers with telework programs were better prepared to keep their organizations operating in spite of icy roads.”

In addition to telework gains, the survey revealed some notable shifts in metro Atlanta commute patterns.

  • Commute times and distances have decreased.  The average one-way commute is now 17.5 miles and 30 minutes long, compared to 19.7 miles and 35.9 minutes in 2007.
  • Sixty-nine percent of commuters reported their commute has been about the same compared to one year ago, 17 percent of respondents reported a more difficult commute and the remaining 14 percent said they have had an easier commute.  In 2007, 37 percent of respondents reported a more difficult commute.

“Over the past three years, we have seen some significant changes in the economy that have certainly had an impact on commuting,” said Lauren Justice, project manager for CTE.  “Whether some of these commute changes are the beginnings of long-term trends, or will start to slow down or reverse once employment levels pick up remains to be seen.”

2010 Metro Atlanta Regional Commuter Survey Highlights:

  • The average one-way commute in metro Atlanta is 17.5 miles and takes 30 minutes.
  • Over 600,000 commuters (27%) telework on at least an occasional basis.  More than half (56%) of that group teleworks at least one day per week. 
  • Approximately 400,000 people – or 18 % of all commuters – use commute alternatives three or more days per week.  Of those:
    • 40% telework
    • 30% carpool or vanpool
    • 28% take transit
    • 2% bike or walk

CTE conducted the 2010 Metro Atlanta Regional Commuter Survey in August and September 2010.  They surveyed more than 4,000 residents of the 20-county metro Atlanta region to assess general trends in awareness, attitudes and use of alternative forms of transportation for commuting.  The survey had a margin of error of +/- 1.5% at a confidence level of 95%.  All commute data are based on the information provided by respondents who were employed and travel to work (i.e., are not self-employed and do not operate a home-based business).

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About The Clean Air Campaign

The Clean Air Campaign is a not-for-profit organization that works with Georgia's employers, commuters and schools to encourage actions that result in less traffic congestion and better air quality. To accomplish this goal, The Clean Air Campaign, along with its associate organizations, partners with more than 1,600 employers to create custom commute options programs; and annually helps thousands of commuters find commute alternatives that work for them, providing financial incentives to get them started. The Clean Air Campaign also protects public health by issuing Smog Alerts and empowers students, parents and teachers to play a positive role in reducing traffic and cleaning the air through a multi-faceted education program reaching elementary, middle and high schools.

Each day, these programs reduce 1.6 million miles of vehicle travel and keep 800 tons of pollution out of the air we breathe. For more information, call 1-877-CLEANAIR (1-877-253-2624) or visit http://www.CleanAirCampaign.org.

Media Contact:

Mike Rieman
404-816-2037

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