Analysis Highlights Rapid Growth of Remote Work in US

Analysis Highlights Rapid Growth of Remote Work in US

Quartz’s data editor Christopher Groskopf analyzed data from the US census and the American Community Survey to find out how many Americans are doing their work entirely from home these days. Full-time home workers, the Quartz analysis found, now make up a record 2.6 percent of American employees, which Groskopf notes is more than the number who walk and bike to work combined:

The data show that telecommuting has grown faster than any other way of getting to work—up 159% since 2000. By comparison, the number of Americans who bike to work has grown by 86% over the same period, while the number who drive or carpool has grown by only 12%. We’ve excluded both part-time and self-employed workers from these and all results.

Intriguingly, with an average annual income of nearly $80,000, people who work from home earn the highest wages of any major category of commuters tracked by the US census. (Broken down further, remote workers are edged out by those who commute by non-subway trains, taxis, or ferryboats.) This is mostly due to the nearly 550,000 remote workers who are managers—the largest group of home workers in any single job category.

In no profession is work from home more popular, however, than computer programming. In fact, Groskopf adds, “among the most experienced, some are even beginning to demand it“:

In 2015, an estimated 300,000 full-time employees in computer science jobs worked from home in the US. (This figure also includes related professions such as actuaries and statisticians, but the vast majority are programmers.) Although not the largest group of remote employees in absolute numbers, that’s about 8% of all programmers, which is a significantly larger share than in any other job category, and well above the average for all jobs of just under 3%. …

Programmers not only work from home more often than other employees, when they do they are more likely to work all day at home. From 2012 to 2015, the average full-time programmer who worked from home said they spent an average of five and a half hours doing so. That’s an 92% increase in the average time spent at home from 2003 to 2005, and nearly double the average for all jobs.

Not only are full-time remote workers comprising a larger proportion of the US workforce, Americans who still work in offices are also spending less of their time there and more working remotely, a Technalysis Research survey found in December. A mix of in-office and remote work may in fact be the best option for maximizing employee engagement: Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report found that while always-remote workers were no more engaged than those who work exclusively in an office, the most engaged employees work remotely most, but not all, of the time. Yet another survey last year found that many US workers would take a pay cut for the chance to do some of their work from home.