New estimates from the US Census bureau, published last week, show that 8 million workers in the US are now primarily working from home, making telecommuting the country’s second most common way of getting to work after driving, displacing public transportation for the first time, Governing magazine reported on Friday:
Last year, an estimated 5.2 percent of workers in the American Community Survey reported that they usually telecommute, a figure that’s climbed in recent surveys. Meanwhile, the share of employees taking public transportation declined slightly to 5 percent and has remained mostly flat over the longer term.
The number of Americans telecommuting at least occasionally is much larger than what’s depicted in the federal data. That’s because the Census survey asks respondents to report how they “usually” go to work, meaning those working from home only a day or two each week aren’t counted. A 2016 Gallup survey found that 43 percent of employees spent at least some time working remotely. …
Those working from home at the highest rate — 11.7 percent — in the Census survey were classified as professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services workers. Other industries where telework is about as common include finance, insurance, real estate, agriculture and the information sector.
Last year’s American Community Survey data also showed that the number of US employees working remotely was on the rise: An analysis of that data found that 2.6 percent were working entirely from home—more than the number who walk and bike to work combined. Other surveys last year and this year have also found more Americans working from home, particularly workers over the age of 55. Employers see this trend continuing for the foreseeable future, and many are changing their policies around flexibility and remote work in response to greater demand for these options from employees in critical talent segments. Most US companies, however, don’t have explicit remote work policies, a survey earlier this year indicated.
Google has launched its built-in job search function to the UK, the company announced in a blog post on Monday:
In the U.K., we’re working with organizations from across the job-matching industry to bring you the most comprehensive listing of jobs, like The Guardian Jobs, Reed.co.uk, Haymarket, Gumtree, The Telegraph, Reach plc’s totallylegal, CV-Library and totaljobs.com. This means anyone searching for jobs on Google will see postings from these sites and many others from across the web as soon as they’re posted. To ensure even more jobs are listed over time, we’re publishing open documentation for all jobs providers detailing how to make their job openings discoverable in this new feature.
This launch also builds on the commitment we made last year to help 100,000 people in the U.K. find a job or grow in their career by 2020. We’re doing that through our Google Digital Garage program, which gives anyone free training in digital skills and products to help grow their career, business or confidence. So far we’ve helped tens of thousands of people find their next job through free training at four city-center hubs and with partners across the U.K.
The search giant launched the job search feature in the US a little over a year ago. Google does not host job listings itself, but rather partners with job listing sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Monster, as well as country-level partners like the organizations mentioned above (The leading job search site, Indeed, has declined to participate). The feature was introduced to India and Canada this May.
LinkedIn users browsing job listings can now get a sense of what their commute would be like if they took the job. The new feature, which senior product manager Dan Li announced in a blog post last week, adds to the growing pile of information LinkedIn helps job seekers find about the roles they are considering:
When you visit job listings on LinkedIn from your mobile phone, you’ll start to see a “See Your Commute” module. From here you can enter your address to calculate how long it would take you to get to your new office walking, driving or on public transportation. Soon, you’ll also have the option to save your location information locally on your phone so you don’t have to type it in every time you’re looking at a role.
You can also set your commute preferences within your Career Interests dashboard so we can provide you with more relevant job recommendations that fit your lifestyle.
The feature was introduced after LinkedIn surveyed 1,000 of its users last October and found that 85 percent of them would take a pay cut in exchange for a shorter commute, Fortune’s Rachel King added. Times and maps for the See Your Commute feature are processed by Bing, the search engine owned by LinkedIn’s parent company Microsoft; in that regard, it’s evidence that Microsoft is making good on its plan to augment LinkedIn, which it bought for over $26 billion in 2016, by integrating it with other elements of the tech giant’s vast suite of software products.
A new study from the University of the West of England examines the impact of commuting on employees’ wellbeing and job satisfaction. Based on an analysis of 26,000 workers in England, the study found that “every extra minute of commute time reduces job satisfaction, reduces leisure time satisfaction, increases strain and reduces mental health.” Commuters who travel by bus are particularly affected by the negative impacts of long commutes, but the effect is reversed among those who travel by train: Longer train commutes tend to be less stressful than short ones as commuters are “better able to use their journey time productively.” Those who commute on foot or by bicycle, in contrast, have higher levels of job satisfaction and perceptions of their own health.
The study also measured just how much long commutes hurt job satisfaction, Olivia Rudgard highlights at the Telegraph, finding that an extra 20 minutes of commute time is as bad as a 19 percent cut in pay for the average worker:
For someone earning the average pre-tax salary of £1,800 per month, equivalent to £21,600 a year, an extra 10 minutes spent travelling each way was equivalent to a £340 fall in monthly income, the study found.
At CEB, now Gartner, our recent research has also found that grueling commutes have a major negative impact on employees’ work.
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 recent years, several US cities, including New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, have introduced mandates requiring large employers to offer tax-free transit benefits to employees who commute to work. “However,” SHRM’s Joanne Sammer writes in a primer on the subject, “mandates and tax considerations should not be the only drivers of transit benefit design”:
Asking employees what they need to better manage their commutes to work could yield some important insight into how to expand these programs to meet the needs of a broader array of employees. In doing so, employers can build a program that can both reduce payroll taxes and help to attract and retain a talented workforce.
A 2016 survey of 76 Canadian and U.S. employers conducted by Best Workplaces for Commuters, a public-private partnership that promotes transit benefits, and the Association for Commuter Transportation found that:
- 69 percent of employers offering employee transit benefit programs reduced their need for parking spaces.
- 53 percent reduced local traffic congestion.
- 59 percent improved community relations.
Here at CEB, we’ve recently been hearing a lot of questions from our members about commuter benefits (how much is offered, what methods of commuting are covered, etc.), indicating that this is an area of increasing interest to employers.
The average employee spends about four hours a week getting back and forth from work. Survey data shows that for most employees, this is the most dreaded part of the work week. Cari Romm at Science of Us has a suggestion for how to make it a little more bearable: take a nap during your commute:
Step one, figure out how long your train ride takes from the moment you step on till the moment you exit. Step two, use that number to calculate what time you’ll be arriving, and set a phone alarm for a few minutes before then. Step three, stick some headphones in your ears and snooze away, unburdened by worry that you’ll miss your stop. (Note: Train riders only, for obvious reasons. Drivers, you’re still stuck with a fully conscious ride to work.)
The beauty of the commuting nap is that it takes one of the most hated ways to spend time (commuting) and replaces it with one of the most beloved (sleeping). It’s difficult to overstate just how much a long commute — especially one spent entirely awake — can negatively impact a person’s quality of life: People who suffer through it each day tend to have more stress, lower well-being, and even rockier marriages; commuting beat out house cleaning and even work itself in a survey of the most happiness-draining activities.
For those of us who commute by train or bus and can manage it, taking a nap does seem like a good idea. Estimates are that 50 to 75 million people in the US are sleep deprived, and this has real consequences: It hurts performance, lowers our emotional intelligence and makes us less effective leaders.
For the millions of us who drive to work, however, the chance to nap will continue to elude us until driverless cars come along to take us to work every day. In the meantime, as Romm also mentions, the Association for Psychological Science highlights a new study suggesting another way to get the most out of our commutes: