Study: Telecommuting Growing Fast Among Americans, Especially Older Workers

Study: Telecommuting Growing Fast Among Americans, Especially Older Workers

FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics co-authored a study on the state of telecommuting in the US, with the following key findings:

  • 3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005 (a 115 percent increase since 2005).
  • The average telecommuter is 46 years of age or older, has at least a bachelor’s degree, and earns a higher median salary than an in-office worker.
  • Roughly the same population of women and men telecommute.
  • Telecommuting is more common among employees over 35 years of age and most common among Baby Boomers.
  • In more than half of the top U.S. metro areas telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode.

Kathryn Vasel of CNN digs deeper into the study, which also identifies the industries, professions, and geographic areas in which telecommuting is most popular:

Remote working has become more prevalent, specifically in the mortgage and real estate industry, human resources and recruiting, and accounting and finance. Each industry saw remote job listings grow more than 20% last year. Employers in the Northeast, particularly in New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, are the most likely to offer flexible workplace options, the report found. …

[Telecommuters are] more educated and earn more than non-telecommuters. The average yearly income for most telecommuters is $4,000 more than non-telecommuters, according to the report. … Telecommuting is most common among management positions. Professional, scientific and technical services industries have the highest percentage of telecommuters relative to their share of the workforce.

The study also found that employees save significant amounts of time and money from telecommuting, calculating that a full-time telecommuter saves more than $4,000 a year on average from reduced expenses like transportation and dry cleaning, while employers can also save more than $11,000 per employee per year by having them work remotely half the time (thanks to savings on things like office space and utilities). Meanwhile, a full-time remote worker gains back the equivalent of 11 days a year from not having to travel to an office every day.