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Telecommuters are less likely to advance in their careers than workers who toil in traditional office settings, according to survey results released Jan. 16 by Korn/Ferry International, a Los Angeles-based recruitment firm.

More than half (61 percent) of the 1,320 global executives surveyed said they saw career stagnancy among telecommuting workers.

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“You can see these numbers as the glass half empty or half full, but I’d guess these numbers were much higher five years ago, with even 80 or 90 percent [viewing telecommuters as less ambitious]. I think that number will continue to come down as the technology improves our ability to work remotely,” Brian Gabrielson, vice president of staffing firm Robert Half Technology, based in Menlo Park, Calif., told eWEEK.

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The surveyed executives’ answers were not all negative about telecommuting. Forty-eight percent, nearly half, indicated that they would consider a job that involved telecommuting on a regular basis, while 78 percent stated that telecommuters were either equally as productive or more productive than in-house office workers. Forty-six percent of the respondents said they found the option of working flexible hours the most appealing part of flexible work.

This survey is not the first to question whether telecommuting can advance or detract from the progress of a career. A survey released in August 2006 by OfficeTeam, a division of Robert Half International, found that 43 percent of respondents said telecommuting is best-suited for staff-level employees, not executives (chosen by 14 percent) or managers (chosen by 18 percent). The majority of respondents in this survey also noted that senior executives at their firms rarely (55 percent) or never (12 percent) telecommuted.

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