IT workers would take a 10 percent pay cut to telecommute

IT workers would sacrifice a tenth of their salaries just to work at home, yet few IT job postings offer telecommuting as an option

Do you want spend less to hire top IT talent? Leave them at home. At least, that's the conclusion of a recently released poll, which asked technology professionals the question, "With gas prices soaring, would you accept slightly less pay to telecommute full time?" Thirty-five percent of 937 respondents answered, "Yes, I'd cut my salary by 10 percent or less." Another 9 percent said they were already telecommuting. The study also found that on average, technology professionals were willing to forgo $7,800 just for the privilege of working at home.

The results are remarkable, given that salaries for technology professionals have been relatively flat for the past two years, according to, and considering that many companies are scrambling to find the talent they need. Unemployment among IT professionals is only 4.5 percent compared to just under 9 percent in the rest of the economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment for computer network architects is just 2 percent, and for information security architects it's 1 percent.

Letting IT professionals work at home has the potential not only to save on salaries but office space as well; on average, one office seat is saved per three telecommuters. Several studies have found that telecommuters are more productive than their office-bound counterparts and are less likely to take time off or switch jobs. Companies offering the telecommuting option also have a larger talent pool to choose from, since they don't have to limit their search to the local geographic area.

According to the Telework Research Network, U.S. businesses could save a total of $200 billion in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and turnover if they simply let employees whose jobs are compatible with telecommuting work at home half the time. The country as a whole would benefit as well, consuming 280 million fewer barrels of oil annually, or 37percent of Persian Gulf oil imports.

Yet companies are still highly resistant to telecommuting as a hiring incentive. According to Dice, less than 1 percent or 500 of the total technology-related jobs posted on the Dice website mention telecommuting as an option. "Typical hesitations include fear that office teamwork will collapse and that less direct contact between supervisors and tech professionals will affect productivity," says managing director Alice Hill.

Despite the phrasing of the question, the answers had little to do with rising gas prices. A similar study taken in 2008 had results that were just about identical.

"Talent retention is the name of the game," says Hill. "Here's one of the easiest, least expensive solutions and it has yet to be fully exploited."

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.