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Latest Telecommuting Statistics

Please cite GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com when you use this data

Reporters: We are constantly updating our database of over 4,000 documents on telework/telecommuting, alternative workplace strategies, workplace flexibility, and employee wellness/and wellbeing ROI. Please call or email kate[at]globalworkplaceanalytics.com, 760-703-0377 (Pacific Time) for the latest data or for additional information.

Updated September 29, 2015

Below are the latest statistics on the work-at-home/telework population in the U.S. based on an analysis of 2005-2014 American Community Survey (US Census Bureau) data conducted by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. Similar state and county data is available through 2013, but 2014 numbers for states and counties won’t be available until late in 2015.

The American Community Survey (ACS) derives its data on work-at-home from the question: What was you primary means of transportation to work during the survey week? “Worked at home” is one of the choices. Therefore, all we know about this population is that they worked primarily at home, which we assume means at least half-time.
Though often used interchangeably, ‘telework’ is defined as the substitution of technology for travel, while telecommuting is more narrowly defined as the substitution of technology for commuter travel. Thus if someone takes work home after being at the office it is considered telework but not telecommuting, and if someone works at home instead of driving to an office they are telecommuting. Both terms were coined by Jack Nilles in the 1970s. Note: many people and organizations are moving away from both terms in favor of distributed work, mobile work, remote work, smart working (UK), and workshifting (Canada).

Overview

While there is no Census Bureau or government produced data provides additional granularity on the frequency of telework, Global Workplace Analytics’ research finds that:
  • 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency
  • 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time. Two to three days a week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office).
  • Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile. Studies repeatedly show they are not at their desk 50-60% of the time.

Summary of trends:

  • Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 and 6.5% in 2014. This represents the largest year over year increase since before the recession. 
  • 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
  • The employee population as a whole grew by 1.8% from 2013 to 2014, while employees who telecommuter population grew 6.5%.
Note: It is critical to separate the self-employed from the employee telework and telecommuter population for the purpose of understanding trends as they are moving in opposite directions. About 22% of the self-employed population work primarily from home. That population (self-employed and home-based) declined by 2.6% since 2005. The loss was entirely attributable to non-incorporated home-based businesses (which declined by 9.8%). The self-employed incorporated home-based business population grew by 18.7%.
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Call or email Kate Lister for Additional Information About:

 
State and local telework numbers
Telework demographics (gender, age, education, private/public sector, industry, income, etc.)
Global and US drivers of telework
Obstacles to telework
Advantages and disadvantages for employers/employees
Industry contacts/potential interviewees
Global and regional trends
Workplace flexibility and it’s impact on employee well-being
Who wants to telework, who can, who offers it, where teleworkers work
Other agile and distributed workplace trends

About Global Workplace Analytics:

Kate Lister, president of San Diego-based Global Workplace Analytics is one of the foremost authorities on how, when, and where people are working. In addition to her work helping large employers deploy telework, activity-based work, hoteling, well-being and other agile workplace strategies, she has compiled a database of over 3,000 case studies, academic papers, and the documents on the topic. Global Workplace Analytics also offers free calculators  for estimating the employer, employee, and environmental impact of various workplace strategies including telework. They also make available free white papers on various topics related to agile work.
Kate is available for interviews and to help reporters identify additional resources. She can be reached at 760-703-0377 (Pacific Time) or Kate@GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com.
Additional (free) Resources That May be of Interest:
An answer to the question, “Why there are so many wide-ranging estimates of the size of the teleworker population?”
Our Workplace Savings Calculator™ that allows employers and others estimate the employer, employee, and environmental impact of various workplace strategies including telework

Additional Data: Our 27-page white paper, The State of Telework in the U.S. and other white papers offer in depth analyses of the data below and more. Note: some of our reports include data that is older than the data here; please refer to this page for the most recent information. News reporters may call or email for the very latest numbers.

Estimate your employee, employer and environmental mobile work savings potential: You can estimate your own potential savings from mobile work with our free Workplace Savings Calculator™.

 

Background (NOT CURRENT)

Who Telecommutes?  Telecommuter Demographics (updated June 2011; not including the self-employed; cite State of Telework in the US)

  • A typical telecommuter is 49 years old, college educated, a salaried non-union employee in a management or professional role, earns $58,000 a year, and works for a company with more than 100 employees.
  • Relative to the total population, a disproportionate share of management, professional, sales and office workers telecommute.
  • Using home as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ per the Americans with Disabilities Act, 316,000 disabled employees regularly work from home.
  • Non-exempt employees are far less likely to work at home on a regular or ad hoc basis than salaried employees.
  • Over 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year putting them in the upper 80 percentile of all employees.
  • Larger companies are more likely to allow telecommuting than smaller ones.
  • Non-union organizations are more likely to offer telecommuting those with unions.

What Is the Potential Bottom Line Impact or Return on Investment of the Widespread Adoption of Telework in the U.S.? (updated August 2012)

  • If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time (roughly the national average for those who do so regularly) the national savings would total over $700 Billion a year including:
    • A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year
    • The telecommuters would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year
    • The oil savings would equate to over 37% of our Persian Gulf imports
    • The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.
  • The Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the entire five-year cost of implementing telework throughout government ($30 million) is less than a third of the cost of lost productivity from a single day shut down of federal offices in Washington DC due to snow ($100 million).

The latest telework savings numbers are summarized here (these may not match those in the white papers as they have been updated with recent data).

For details about how these telework savings were calculated, and for similar information regarding telework in the U.K. and Canada, download our free white papers.

Additional Information on Telework / Telecommuting Trends / Statistics / Costs & Benefits

Reporters: We are constantly updating our database of over 4,000 documents on telework, office hoteling, activity-based work, co-working, work at home, and other emerging workplace strategies, and workplace flexibility. Please call or email for the latest data or for additional information (kate-at-globalworkplaceanalytics.com, 760-703-0377 Pacific Time).

About: Kate Lister is president of Global Workplace Analytics, a consulting and research firm that focuses on the business case for emerging workplace strategies. Global Workplace Analytics is based in San Diego, California.

Federal_Telework_ROI_pdf

Federal Telework – Return on Taxpayer Investment

The financial and non-financial impact of telework should and can be measured. One methodology, explained in this paper, estimates that federal telework, effectively implemented, could save taxpayers almost $14 billion a year. That figure was calculated based on a cautious set of assumptions about the impact of telework on real estate, absenteeism, turnover, productivity, transit subsidies, continuity of operations, and healthcare.

Federal_Telework_ROI_pdf

Federal Telework – Return on Taxpayer Investment (redacted)

No footnotes

federal-telework-obstacles-and-opportunities_pdf

Federal Telework: Obstacles and Opportunities

This report examines how  experts in government view the obstacles to telework. Based on their insights, those of industry experts, and our own observations, this paper suggests solutions for overcoming those obstacles.

federal-telework-obstacles-and-opportunities_pdf

Federal Telework: Obstacles and Opportunities (redacted)

No footnotes

Results_Based_Management_pdf

Results-Based Management-The Key to Unlocking Talent, Increasing Productivity

Recent research shows than 70% of the workforce is not engaged. They’re either wandering around in a fog, or actively undermining their co-workers’ success. They're burned out, disenfranchised, and over 80% are ready to jump ship. Eyeing the end of the recession, employees are no longer happy just to have a job. Boomers who haven’t already made their exit are anticipating it. Gen X-ers watched their workaholic parents, and aren't about to make the same mistakes. Gen…

Results_Based_Management_pdf

Results-Based Management-The Key to Unlocking Talent, Increasing Productivity (redacted)

No footnotes

Bottom-Line-on-Telework-in-the-US_pdf

Telecommuting Benefits: The Bottom Line

The purpose of this paper is to quantify the benefits of telecommuting for employers, employees, and the community. Three decades have passed since the concept of telecommuting— the substitution of technology for commuter travel—was conceived. A broad body of evidence now corroborates the many economic, environmental, and societal benefits that researchers predicted. Occasional telecommuting (one day a month) has grown significantly in recent years—increasing 74% from 2005 to 2008, though few companies…

Bottom-Line-on-Telework-in-the-US_pdf

Telecommuting Benefits: The Bottom Line (redacted)

No footnotes

FINAL_ThurstonTelework_formatted_pdf

The Bottom Line on Telework for the Thurston Region State and Local Governments

This report offers a data-driven analysis of the potential for telework to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of Thurston WA region state and local government. Based on a conservative set of assumptions drawn from a synthesis of over 4,000 data sources, we calculate that the impact of twice weekly telework by 30% of the region’s public sector workforce could: Save approximately $58 million per…

FINAL_ThurstonTelework_formatted_pdf

The Bottom Line on Telework for the Thurston Region State and Local Governments (redacted)

No footnotes

CA_State_of_Telework_9-18-11_pdf

The Bottom Line on Telework-California Government Workforce

State and local government employees are bummed out, burned out, and stressed out from the endless struggle of trying to do more with less. To make matters worse, more than half the state’s most experienced people are moving toward the door to retirement. If California expects to attract a new generation of talented government leaders and staff workers it needs to find a new way of working, both figuratively and literally. This report…

CA_State_of_Telework_9-18-11_pdf

The Bottom Line on Telework–California Government Workforce (redacted)

No footnotes

Telework-in-the-UK_4-3-11_1-Final-Rev_pdf

The Shifting nature of Work in the UK – Bottom Line Benefits of Telework

Thanks to advances in technology, work no longer needs to be tethered by time or place. Citrix calls this shift from work as a noun to work as a verb,  ‘work shifting’. The purpose of this paper is to quantify the financial and environmental benefits of the growing trend. It will show how twice weekly home working, by those with compatible jobs and a desire to do so, could save UK companies,…

Telework-in-the-UK_4-3-11_1-Final-Rev_pdf

The Shifting nature of Work in the UK – Bottom Line Benefits of Telework (redacted)

No footnotes

State-of-Telework-in-the-US_pdf

The State of Telework in the U.S. – How Individuals, Business, and Government Benefit

No one would disagree that the U.S. workforce is increasingly mobile. But, beyond that broad statement, we know little about the rate of increase in mobility—how often people are out of the office, where they are, and what they’re doing. For that matter, there’s no agreed-upon method of defining who they are. Using public and private sector sources, the purpose of this paper is to…

State-of-Telework-in-the-US_pdf

The State of Telework in the U.S. – How Individuals, Business, and Government Benefit (redacted)

No footnotes

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What’s Good For People

The bottom line impact of wellness is clear, it needs to be a strategic priority. Stockholders would demand it, if they understood that increases in productivity brought about by improved wellness outstrip even real estate costs. Most organizations invest in wellness, but few address the broader topic of well-being. The indirect costs of poor health and poor well-being trump direct costs by a wide margin. There is a direct relationship…

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What’s Good For People (redacted)

No footnotes

Telework-Canada-Final4_pdf

WORKshift Canada: The Bottom Line On Telework

This report shows how part-time telecommuting by the 4.3 million Canadians with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home could have a bottom line impact of over $53 billion per year. An employer with 250 telecommuters, for example, would save over $3 million per year

Telework-Canada-Final4_pdf

WORKshift Canada: The Bottom Line On Telework (redacted)

No footnotes