The picture of the American work force is constantly evolving. The changing demographics (more households with two working parents, more single parent households, different expectations of millennials, etc...) is causing a huge shift when it comes to flexible work arrangements including a dramatic increase in the number of telecommuters and remote workers.
Flexjobs, one of the biggest promotors of flexible work schedules, completed a study in 2017 illustrating the rapid rate at which telecommuting is growing in the US. According to their 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report:
Regular telecommuting grew 115% in the past decade, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce.
The average annual income for most telecommuters is $4,000 higher than that of non-telecommuters.
The percent of women and men who telecommute is about equal.
Half of telecommuters are 45 years of age or older, compared to just 41% of the overall workforce. Telecommuters are, on average, more highly educated than other employees.
Approximately 53% have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 37% of non-telecommuters. Telecommuting is most common in Management occupations, but employees in Computer, Mathematical, and Military occupations work at home much more frequently than their peers.
While the Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services industry has the highest percentage of telecommuters relative to its share of the workforce, the Management of Companies and Agriculture industries top the list because of an administrative job component.
In more than half of the top U.S. metros, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode.
Forty percent more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options than they did in 2010. Still, only 7% make it available to most of their employees.
Larger companies are most likely to offer telecommuting options to most of their employees.
Full-time employees are four times more likely to have work-at-home options than part-time employees. Non-union employees are twice as likely to have access to telecommuting, but union employee access is growing rapidly.
Employers can save over $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. Across the existing work-at-home population, that potentially adds up to $44 billion in savings. If the telecommuting workforce expanded to include those who could and wanted to work from home, the potential employer savings could approach $690 million a year.
Existing telecommuters reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking over 600,000 cars off the road for a year. If the work-at-home workforce expanded to include those who could and wanted to telecommute half of the time, the GHG savings would equate to taking 10 million cars off the road.
Half-time telecommuters gain back 11 days a year—time they would have otherwise spent commuting.
Dynamics are changing and the work force is responding. Employees at all levels, even up to the CEOs of companies are developing awareness of some of the benefits telecommuting can impact the work environment. Now we're starting to understand the positive impacts to the bottom line. The benefits to the employee are more obvious. On top of the monetary benefits (less gasoline, car maintenance, work attire, lunches out, etc...) those 11 days per year saved on the road make a huge impact. Truth be told, most of the telecommuters I've spoken to use a big chunk of that time and give it right back to their employer in the form of more time spent on tasks. In most cases, when employees feel valued and trusted, they behave in ways that add value to the companies that employ them.
The impacts to the bottom line for companies, which are becoming more apparent as we have the data to crunch the numbers, are even more astonishing. While employees definitely get a break on costs, employers save even more money on remote employees. The $11,000 saved is no small change and that's just for a half-time commuter. Those savings don't even include all of the benefits to the employer that can't be quantified. Here are just a few of those:
Employers can hire talent from anywhere in the world making it easier to find the right fit
Home working leads on average to a 13% increase in productivity on average. Some companies have seen increases as high as 35%
Home workers report higher work satisfaction
Attrition among the home workers drops by 50% on average
Telecommuting workers typically continue working even when sick and resume working more quickly after surgery or other medical issues.
Gen Y’ers are more difficult to recruit (as reported by 56% of hiring managers) and to retain (as reported by 64% of hiring managers), but they are particularly attracted to flexible work arrangements (rating among benefits as an 8 on a 10 scale for impact on overall job satisfaction).
Hiring sight unseen, as some all-virtual employers do, greatly reduces the potential for discrimination.
Ensures continuity of operations in the event of a disaster
Three-quarters of teleworkers say they could continue to work in the event of a disaster compared with just 28% of non-teleworkers.
Creating the work arrangement that maximizes work life balance and productivity is becoming more of a win-win situation for employees and emplyers alike.
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