Around 3.9 million Americans are working from home — and many are getting paid more money for it than they would make in regular office jobs.
That’s according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting report from FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics released the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce Report today, showing that in 2015, around 4 million US workers did their jobs from home at least half of the time.
In other words, that’s around 3% of US employees, which translates to a 115% jump in telecommuting between 2005 and 2015.
At the same time, traditional all-day-in-the-office jobs increased only 12% during the same years.
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics said in a statement that “the trend is unmistakable. Leading employers are cashing in on the people, planet, and profit benefits of allowing their people to choose where they want to work.”
The data comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, but there are caveats: the real amount of people who work at home for any amount of time is probably between 10 and 15 times bigger than amount who do so at least half of the time or more. Unfortunately, because there’s no way to track individual work-from-home weeks or days for business and government employers, there’s no comprehensive information “on those less-frequent telecommuters” from the the government or private industries.
Highly paid to work from home
But the most surprising part of the data was just how much telecommuters earn. The research found that 79% of telecommuters and 67% of non-telecommuters take home $100,000 a year or less.
Within that income bracket, the average telecommuter is more likely to make more a year than those in the other category— about $4,000 more.
What makes telecommuters worth more? We can only speculate. It could simply be that most companies only trust relatively senior workers with flexible schedules — so if your boss trusts you to work from home, it means you’re senior enough to be making quite a bit of money.
Bolstering that theory: Half of telecommuters are at least age 45, versus 41% of all US workers. And people who work from home tend to be highly educated: about 53% of telecommuters have a bachelor’s degree or higher, versus 37% of those who don’t work from home.
As for industries, the report said that working from home “is most common in Management occupations, but employees in Computer, Mathematical, and Military occupations work at home much more frequently than their peers.”
The downside of all this?
It demonstrates that junior workers probably don’t get as many opportunities to work from home and take other flexible time that allows them to live their lives fully.
The cities where working from home is the rule
The fact that telecommuting favors age and seniority doesn’t mean no one else has a chance. You don’t necessarily have to have graduated from college to work from home, because 27% of telecommuters have earned their associate’s degree, and 20% have earned a high school diploma or less.
The top five telecommuting metro areas are: Boulder, CO (8.5% of all workers there do so from home), Corvallis, OR (6.9%), Raleigh, NC (6.2%), Charlottesville, VA (5.5%), and Austin-Round Rock, TX (5.4%).
Working from home helps workers and their companies save money
Using a tool called the Telework Savings Calculator, Global Workplace Analytics showed that working from home saves businesses money.
It predicted that the 3.9 million people working from home at least half-time back in 2015 saved their workplaces $44 billion yearly in total. That’s $11,000 per half-time telecommuter, on average.
The report adds that “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.”
The next frontier for telecommuting
The report recommended ways that companies and people can boost telecommuting.
Local, state and federal governments should get rid of policies making it more difficult to work from home, like the “telecommuting tax penalty.” Government bodies should fund initiatives raising awareness of working from home, “incentivize employer participation” and “explore telecommuting-friendly incentives” for a variety of reasons that could benefit the people they serve.
But the report also boiled it down to employers and people, including: that businesses should think about how working from home can expand the number of employees, support them and help their professional objectives.
Employees can “propose a telecommuting arrangement,” look for positions with this option, or talk to HR or management if they don’t already work from home.
Those that do can recommend making “an employee resource group” among telecommuters at their employer, among other options.