Telecommuting numbers released by the Commuter Connections program of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) reveal that regional telecommuting numbers showed a steady increase from 2001 to 2004. In 2004, 12.8% of commuters in the region were telecommuting an average of 1.3 days a week, compared with 11.3% telecommuting an average of 1.1 days per week in 2001.The total number of commuters telecommuting was 318,000 in 2004 versus 290,000 in 2001.
Additionally, the percentage of Federal telecommuters increased significantly from 2001 to 2004, from 6.9% to 11.8%. These patterns track closely with recently released data from the Office of Personnel Management. Non-federal telecommuters accounted for 12.6% of telecommuting in 2001 and 13.4% in 2004.
In the Commuter Connections 2004 State of the Commute (SOC) survey, the definition of telecommuting was changed from the definition used in 2001 to reflect a more accurate representation of what Commuter Connections considers telecommuting. The 2004 definition is narrower in scope than the 2001 definition and excludes some commuters who likely would have been counted as telecommuters in 2001. The 2004 definition was changed to read "wage and salary employees who at least occasionally work at home or at a telework or satellite center during an entire work day, instead of traveling to their regular work place.” The 2001 definition read “wage and salary employees who at least occasionally work at home or at a location other than their central work place during their normal work hours.”
The 2001 definition included several groups of commuters who were not counted in 2004:
- Workers, such as sales or equipment repair staff, who travel to multiple customer locations during the course of the day.
- Workers who telecommute at client sites inside or outside of the Washington region.
- Workers who worked a portion of the normal workday at home or another location, but traveled to the regular workplace for another part of the day; for example, a respondent who worked at home in the morning while waiting for a delivery or worked at a job site for part of a day.
“Results for the 2001 SOC were adjusted based on the new definition and will be incorporated into the regional transportation emissions reduction measure analysis,” stated Nicholas Ramfos, Chief of Alternative Commute Programs with the TPB/Commuter Connections program at COG.