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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 well-being ROI. Please call or email kate-at-globalworkplaceanalytics.com, 760-703-0377 (Pacific Time) for the latest data or for additional information (such as regional data, demographic breakdowns, breakdowns by class of worker).

Updated June, 2017

Below are the latest statistics on the work-at-home/telework population in the U.S. based on an analysis of 2005-2015 American Community Survey (US Census Bureau) data conducted by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. Similar state and county data are available through 2015.

The American Community Survey (ACS) derives its data on work-at-home from the question: What was your 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.
  • A typical telecommuter is college-educated, 45 years old or older, and earns an annual salary of $58,000 while working for a company with more than 100 employees. 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year, putting them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees, home or office-based.

Summary of trends:

  • Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 115% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce.
  • 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
  • The employee population as a whole grew by 1.9% from 2013 to 2014, while employees who telecommuter population grew 5.6%.
  • Forty percent more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options than they did five years ago. Still, only 7% make it available to most of their employees.
  • Larger companies are most likely to offer telecommuting options to most of their employees.
  • New England and Mid-Atlantic region employers are the most likely to offer telecommuting options.
  • Full-time employees are four times more likely to have work-at-home options than part-time workers.
  • Non-union workers are twice as likely to have access to telecommuting, but union employee access is growing rapidly.

Click here our latest report for more details.

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 3.4% since between 2005 and 2014. 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%.
 
Reporters: call 760-703-0377 or email Kate@globalworkplaceanalytics.com for additional information about:
  • State and local telecommuting numbers
  • Telecommuter demographics (gender, age, education, private/public sector, industry, income, etc.)
  • Global and U.S. drivers of telework
  • Obstacles to telework
  • Advantages and disadvantages for employers/employees
  • Industry contacts/potential interviewees
  • Global and regional trends
  • Workplace flexibility and its 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. Thanks to their research sponsors, 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:
  1. An answer to the question, “Why there are so many wide-ranging estimates of the size of the teleworker population?”
  2. Our Workplace Savings Calculator™ that allows employers and others estimate the employer, employee, and environmental impact of various workplace strategies including telework
  3. Our sister site with resources for individual looking for home-based work
  4. 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.
  5. 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™.

Who Telecommutes?  Telecommuter Demographics (updated 3-15-2016):

  • A typical telecommuter is older (50+), college educated, salaried, non-union employee.
  • Relative to the total population, a disproportionate share of employees in the following occupations telecommute (in order of largest disproportion to smallest):
    • Military
    • Computer and Mathematical
    • Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations
    • Farming, Fishing, and Forestry
    • Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations
    • Legal Occupations
    • Community and Social Service Occupations
    • Architecture and Engineering Occupations
    • Business and Financial
  • Using home as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ per the Americans with Disabilities Act, 463,000 disabled employees regularly work from home (7.1% of the disabled).
  • Non-exempt employees are far less likely to work at home on a regular or ad hoc basis than salaried 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 March, 2016)

  • 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 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 Federal Government, 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.

The State of Telework in the U.S. 2011 – 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…

The State of Telework in the U.S. 2011 – How Individuals, Business, and Government Benefit (redacted)

No footnotes

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

WORKshift Canada: The Bottom Line On Telework (redacted)

No footnotes

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