Cloudworker. Duh!

When Plantronics launched a survey to better understand remote and home office workers — and then held a competition to rename the poorly understood term “teleworker” — I considered what phrase I could coin that would stick.

Telecommuter and teleworker obviously had wallowed in oblivion since the 1970s and 1990s, respectively.

SOHO-dweller? Nope. Home Officer? Uh-uh. “That guy who works in his underwear instead of driving into the office.” That’s a bit cumbersome and conjures a rather bothersome visual.

Then some dude named Venkat Rao came up with “Cloudworker.” It defines “those of us who work from several locations in one day; communicate on multiple devices and with multiple applications; integrate work and personal lives; and provide 24×7, ‘always on’ service to customers.”

Eureka! Google “cloud computing” or search this site and see how often it comes up. Heck, I “cloudworked” from bed last night while watching Monday Night Football.

Name aside, the survey was pretty interesting. From Plantronics…

“It reported that just over half (52%) of all respondents work from home at least one day a week. In a related initiative, Plantronics solicited suggestions from people to rename the term “telecommuter.” The online contest, dubbed TeleWho? generated approximately 500 submissions from across the country. Independent judges helped select ten finalist terms based on their originality, relevance and lasting impact. Almost 2,200 votes were submitted over a two week period, resulting in the term “Cloudworker” as the new term for people who work from home.

“There is no question that the combination of high travel costs and the current economic crisis are transforming business as we know it. To this point, thought you might be interested in the results from a survey conducted by TNS and Plantronics. The study shows that many companies have significantly reduced business travel. As a result, people are spending more time in teleconferences, Web meetings and more people work from home at least once a week for an average of 1.4 days per week, up from 1 day a week a year ago.

“Further, over the past year, 42 percent of knowledge workers have seen declines in corporate travel, 40 percent of those surveyed spent more time in teleconferences, and 30 percent have increased the amount of time they telecommute, or “cloudwork.”

“According to Plantronics,  the high cost of travel is changing how businesses and their employees work, communicate and collaborate. The study revealed that many companies have significantly reduced business travel due to rising fuel costs over the past year, while more people work from home at least once a week. At the same time, many knowledge workers now spend more time on the phone to maintain effective communication.

“The study, conducted by research firm TNS, revealed that over the past year 42 percent of knowledge workers have seen declines in corporate travel, while 40 percent of those surveyed spent more time in teleconferences, and 30 percent have increased the amount of time they telecommute. When quizzed about ergonomic issues, more respondents (33 percent) complained about neck and shoulder pain than any other health related condition from using the phone, computer or other office equipment for extended periods of time.

“Among other findings:

* More than one-third of individual employees were traveling less on business over the past year, with 42 percent of that group reporting their corporate travel had been cut in half
* Executives (those with the title of vice president or higher) were much more likely to report a reduction in business travel than other professionals
* Four out of ten knowledge workers reported they spend more time in teleconferences over the past 12 months
* Knowledge workers participate in an average of four conference calls of 30 minutes or longer per week
* One fourth of respondents participate in more than five conference calls that last one-half hour or longer each week
* Nearly one-third of respondents, (32 percent) reported increased participation and use of Web-based meetings and Web conferences
* More than one out of five reported an increase in their use of Unified Communication tools

“Reflecting a increase in remote working, the study found:

* Knowledge workers work from home an average of 1.4 days a week, compared with one day per week one year ago
* Among the 40 percent of respondents reporting an increase in the time they spend working from home:
* Half of the respondents who work from home at least one day per week feel their productivity increases when telecommuting compared to working at the office
* Half telecommute to save money on transportation costs, primarily gas and fuel

“Among ergonomic implications:

* The top health condition resulting from extended use of the phone, computer and other office equipment was neck pain
* Respondents reporting neck pain were more likely to work in the IT/MIS/IS department (19 percent vs. 9 percent for non-IT positions)
* Nearly twice as many respondents complained about neck and shoulder pain compared with those who reported carpal tunnel syndrome (33 percent compared to 19 percent)

Now, at least we have a name to attach to the workstyle embraced by more than 30 million Americans. Will it finally stick? Who knows…

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