Win-win-win, right? That’s probably why the number of people telecommuting grew 115% from 2005 to 2015, according to a report on the latest data available from FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics. That’s 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce.
While that may not be too surprising, there are quite a few interesting nuggets that came out of the analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
For one, it’s not just moms who work from home — 48% of telecommuters were men. That’s nearly in line with the 51% women and 49% men breakdown of the entire U.S. population. And, according to the survey, it’s pretty much been this way since 2005.
And it’s not all $10-an-hour customer service jobs, given that telecommuters earn an average of $4,000 more than regular workers every year. Telecommuters earn $41,705 a year, partly because they’re also more educated than folks who don’t work from home — 53% have a bachelor’s degree, according to the analysis.
So Why Are More People Working From Home?
Employers are increasingly offering more flexible work accommodations — including the option to work from home. Compared to 2010, 40% more businesses offered flexible workplace options in 2015.
Why? According to the FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics study, it saved employers a combined $44 billion in 2015. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”
And, you can also thank technology.
“Obviously, technological advances played a big role in making it easy to work wherever and whenever,” the study states. “It’s hard to believe, but way back in 2005, LinkedIn was in its infancy, Facebook was still gestating, and the iPhone had not yet been conceived.”
Work-From-Home Options Should Be Encouraged, Study Says
This all sounds great, but as of 2015, when the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was collected, only 7% of workplaces offered telecommuting benefits. That’s despite the finding that if all employers started offering the 62 million potential telecommuters in the U.S. the option to work from home, they could realize a combined $689 billion savings a year — that’s $11,000 per half-time telecommuter a year.
It’s also swell for the environment. If these opportunities were expanded, it would mean 8 billion fewer vehicle trips, $16 billion in oil savings and 54 million fewer tons of greenhouse gases blasted into the atmosphere.
So what can we do to reach these goals? The study states that state and local governments should consider axing rules that punish telecommuters, such as rules that can lead to double taxation if you don’t live within the state in which you are telecommuting. But there are definitely tax deductions you can take advantage of.
Employers should start tracking telecommuting programs to analyze their outcomes so they become an effective part of U.S. business strategy. And employees should suggest work-from-home programs of their own to human resource departments.
“It is finally time to focus on the next level of telecommuting: supporting the adoption of laws that help, rather than burden, telecommuters; formalizing corporate telecommuting programs that tie the practice to business strategy and the bottom line; and tracking the effectiveness of telecommuting long-term,” the study concludes. “We’ve reached the point where the focus is no longer on whether telecommuting is just a momentary trend, but is instead on its widespread acceptance and long-term sustainability.”