Our current estimate is that 75 million U.S. employees (56% of the non-self-employed workforce) could work from home. In other words, that’s how many hold jobs that are compatible with remote work. We began providing an estimate for how many people could work from home in 2011 and have updated it annually since then. Here’s how we go about it.
Our process starts with a methodology described in peer-reviewed research that was conducted by researchers Matthews and Williams (M&W) In 2005. At the time they estimated about 40% of the workforce could work from home at least some of the time. Their estimate was based on 2002 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.
They defined a job as being work-from-home-compatible, as one that:
- Had an information component
- Included individual vs. group work
- Had clear parameters for evaluation
- Did not require personal contact with customers
- Did not require physical work that could only be done on-site
On this basis, they included the following Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categories:
- Professional specialty
- Technical support
- Administrative support
- Half of the sales jobs (assuming that half were non-retail)
The researchers at the time excluded management positions altogether, assuming (incorrectly) that “managers would not be teleworking in the near future.”
Global Workplace Analytics first repeated the Matthews and Williams approach to estimating how many people could work from home in 2011 (using 2010 BLS numbers) and has repeated the process every year since.
Global Workplace Analytics’ current estimate (in 2020) is about 75 million U.S. employees could work from home at least part of the time (56% of the workforce).
Additional information about the past, present, and future of work-from-home is available on the following pages: