Kate Lister is a recognized workplace thought leader and president of Global Workplace Analytics, a research-based consulting firm that has been helping employers optimize flexible and distributed workplace strategies for more than fifteen years. She has written or co-authored five business books including the U.S. chapter of “Telework in the 21st Century” (Edward Elgar, 2019), a multi-country peer-reviewed study on remote work. Her perspectives on how COVID-19 will change the way people work have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and dozens of other respected news outlets. In July of 2020, she was one of only three witnesses invited to testify before a U.S. Senate committee on the expansion of telework in government post-COVID-19.
Note to Reporters—June 2021:
Kate Lister is happy to share what she knows about:
• Best practices for return-to-the-office strategies
• Best practices for telecommuting, remote work, and hybrid-remote work
• Topics including employee surveillance/monitoring, tax and legal implications with an interstate or multi-country workforce, difficulties in working from home, managing work-life conflict, employee stress, and more
• The environmental impact of remote and hybrid-remote working.
• Details behind the estimate that employers can save an average of $11k/year for each halftime remote worker.
• What governments need to do to encourage more remote work and why they should do it
Click here for our latest press releases on COVID-19 and work-from-home.
If you are on deadline call 760-703-0377 (during a decent hour, Pacific Time), otherwise please email Kate@GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com).
Telecommuting Trend Data (updated June 22, 2021)
Note: You do not need permission to use this data provided you cite GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com as the source. A link would be appreciated and we do say thank you by making sure our social network sees your work.
Below are the latest available statistics on the work-at-home/telework population in the U.S. based on our analysis of the 2005-2019 American Community Survey (ACS, a U.S. Census Bureau product). New ACS numbers, for the prior year, are released each Fall.
The American Community Survey derives its data on the work-at-home population from the single 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 at home half-time or more during the previous week.
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’s considered telework but not telecommuting. If someone works at home instead of driving to an office they are telecommuting but not necessarily teleworking. Both terms were coined by Jack Nilles in the 1970s.
Important point: many people and organizations are moving away from both the term telework and telecommuting in favor of remote work, work-from-home, distributed work, mobile work, smart working (UK). The term “hybrid-remote”, meaning a mix of onsite and remote work, is gaining in popularity as is “work anywhere”, which means allowing employees to work wherever they want.
More important point: If you’re confused by all the conflicting numbers you read about telework, join the club. We explain the problem and try to offer a clearer view here.
Most important point: Unless noted, the numbers below do not include the self-employed.
Summary of Telecommuting Trends
How many employees worked from home before/during the Pandemic?
• 69% of U.S. employees worked from home at the peak of the pandemic [State of the Remote Workforce, Global Workplace Analytics and OwlLabs, 2020 – based on 2,500 survey responses from full-time workers]
• 5.7 million employees (4.1% of the U.S. employee workforce) currently work-at-home half-time or more [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2019 American Community Service (ACS) data]
• Regular work-at-home has grown 216% since 2005, more than 11 times faster than the rest of the workforce (which grew 20%) and 54 times faster than the self-employed population (which grew by 4%) [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2005 to 2019 ACS data]
How many people could work-from-home?
• 56% of employees have a job where at least some of what they do could be done remotely [Global Workplace Analytics]
• 62% of employees say they could work remotely [Citrix 2019 poll]
• Studies repeatedly show desks are vacant 50-60% of the time.
How many people want to work from home?
• 82% of U.S. employees want to work from home at least some of the time when the pandemic is over. On average, they would prefer to do so half of the time. Only 8% said they would not want to work from home at any frequency. 19% said they would want to work-from-home every day. The balance would prefer to work a hybrid-remote schedule. [Global Work From Home Experience Survey, Global Workplace Analytics & Iometrics, 2020 – based on 1,100 U.S. respondents]
• If they were not allowed to work from home: 54% of U.S. employees say they would stay with their employer but be less willing to go the extra mile and 46% would look for another job [State of Remote Work 2020, Owl Labs]
• Only 12% of federal employees say they would not want to work from home at least some of the time [Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey 2018]
• 35% of employees would change jobs for the opportunity to work remotely full time (47% of Millennials and 31% of boomers); 37% would do so to work remotely some of the time (50% of Millennials and 33% of Boomers) [State of the American Workforce, Gallup, 2016]
• Flexibility is one of the highest-ranked benefits by Millennials, even higher than student loans or tuition reimbursement. It ranked high for Boomers too although the percentages were 15-20 points lower. [State of the American Workforce, Gallup, 2017]
• More than a third of workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% in exchange for the option to work remotely at least some of the time; a quarter would take a 10% pay cut; 20% would take an even greater cut. [State of Remote Work 2019, Owl Labs]
What are the demographics of people who work-from-home?
• 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. [Global Workplace Analytics’ special analysis of 2016 ACS data]
• The chart below shows the percentage of people who work-at-home by industry. [Global Workplace Analytics’ special analysis of 2016 ACS data]
• 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).
Who offers remote work?
• Forty percent more U.S. employers offered flexible workplace options than did five years ago. But only 7% make it available to most or all of their employees. [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of BLS data]
• 69% of employers offer remote work on an ad hoc basis to at least some employees, 42% offer it part-time, 27% offer it full time [SHRM 2019 Employee Benefits Survey]
• Larger companies are most likely to offer telecommuting options to most of their employees. [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2017 ACS data]
• New England and Mid-Atlantic region employers are the most likely to offer telecommuting options. [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2017 ACS data]
• Full-time employees are four times more likely to have work-at-home options than part-time workers. [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2017 ACS data]
• Non-union workers are twice as likely to have access to telecommuting, but union access is growing rapidly. [Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of 2017 ACS data]
How do employers benefit from remote work?
Based on conservative assumptions, we estimate a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. The primary savings are the result of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness. Employers can calculate their own potential savings on our free Telework Savings Calculator™ which a report to Congress by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget referred to as “comprehensive and based on solid research.”
How do employees benefit from remote work?
We estimate that employees save between $600 and $6,000 per year by working at home half the time. Those savings are primarily due to reduced costs for travel, parking, and food. They are net of additional energy costs and home food costs.
In terms of time, a half-time telecommuter saves the equivalent of 11 workdays per year in time they would have otherwise spent commuting. Extreme commuters save more than three times that about. These estimates assume a 75% reduction in driving on telework days.
Click here for additional benefits for employees who work at home.
How does society and the environment benefit from remote work?
Eliminating or reducing commuter travel is the easiest and most effective way for a company or individual to reduce their carbon footprint. Based on our estimates, if those who have a work-from-home compatible job and a desire to work remotely did so just half the time, the greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent to taking the entire New York State workforce off the road.
Still hungry for the latest workplace trend data?
Additional Information for Reporters
We are constantly updating our database of over 5,000 documents on telework, activity-based work, co-working, remote work, work-from-home, and other emerging workplace strategies.
Reporters, feel free to call or email for the latest data or for additional information about:
• Work-from-home demographics (gender, age, education, private/public sector, industry, income, etc.)
• Global and U.S. drivers of telework
• Best practices for work-at-home strategies
• Advantages and disadvantages of telework for employers/employees
• Industry contacts/potential interviewees (employers/employees)
• Workplace flexibility and its impact on employee well-being
• Other future of work trends
Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, can be reached at kate-at-globalworkplaceanalytics.com or 760-703-0377 (Pacific Time).
A note to students:
TL;DR – We will not do your homework for you.
We do not take kindly to being interrupted with requests from students who have not bothered to do their own research or tried to find what they need by combing this site and downloading our free resources.
Telling us how urgently you need the information because your paper or thesis is due tomorrow will not help your cause, nor will incomplete or incoherent requests. You can assume we will not respond because, as the saying goes, a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part.
But, if you’ve tried your best and still can’t find what you need, you’re welcome to write to us, tell us who you are, what you’re working on, what you want (not, for example, “Can you send me citations for all the statistics on your website?”), and why you’re asking. When we can find time between client work (in other words people who pay us to help), we’ll get back to you. No really, we will.
“Please” and “thank you,” will go a long way toward helping your cause.
Sorry if we’re grouchy, but you ought to see some of the stuff we get from lazy students…
About Global Workplace Analytics and Kate Lister
Kate Lister, is a recognized thought leader on the future of work. She is president of Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) a 17-year-old research and consulting firm that helps employers understand and prepare for the future of work. Their expertise is focused on workplace, workforce, technology, and other trends that are changing the who, what, when, where, and how of work.
Working with some of the world’s most respected brands, GWA helps make the ‘people, planet, and profit’ business case for workplace change and collaborates to publish a wide range of original and secondary research. In the spirit of sharing, GWA’s many calculators and much of its research available for free on this website.
GWA’s proprietary tools include:
• An extensive digital library with over 6,000 research reports, case studies, and other content related to the technologies, trends, and scientific understandings that are transforming the way people work
• A variety of customizable web-based and mobile calculators that estimate the ROI of workplace change
• Model business cases for a wide range of workplace strategies and stakeholders
• Templates for collecting pre- and post-strategy measures of success
GWA’s research has been cited by hundreds of publications including the Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and many others.
She is a member of the strategic advisory board and leadership team of Workplace Evolutionaries (WE), a global group of leading workplace thinkers and doers who are dedicated to “changing the world one workplace at a time.”
Kate has written or co-authored six books and hundreds of articles for major media outlets. Her most recent book contribution was as the writer of the U.S. chapter of a peer-reviewed examination of global remote work trends called “Telework in the 21st Century” (Edward Elgar, 2019).
Kate is a sought-after speaker and an active member of IFMA’s Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) leadership and research teams. Kate lives in a San Diego CA suburb with her husband and three dogs. She teases that she charges clients extra if she has to travel anywhere that’s too cold, too hot, too humid, or too buggy. She offers a discount for fun companies and cool gigs. For more details, please visit the About and What We Do pages.
Kate is available for interviews and will happily help reporters identify additional resources. She can be reached at 760-703-0377 (Pacific Time) or Kate@GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com.
– Home Office Stipend Fact Sheet 2021
We get a lot of questions from clients about what others are doing in terms of cost-sharing and/or stipends for home office furniture and equipment. This two-page fact sheet is designed to help business leaders understand the pros and cons of various options.
– The Business Case for Remote Work — For Employers, Employees, the Environment, and Society (2021)
The purpose of this paper is to share research on the quantitative and qualitative benefits of remote work for employers, employees, and the environment. It is intended to provide hard numbers to inform the hard decisions organizations are making on how they will operate in the future. The paper was made possible with support from Design Public Group, the leader in home office furniture provisioning…
– Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey Report (2020)
Nearly 3,000 employees responded to the Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey between March 30th and April 24th, 2020 making it the largest global post-COVID employee survey to date. This 76-page report reveals: - Who was working from home before COVID, who's doing it now, who wants to in the future, and how often they want to do it - What's worked and what hasn't - Success…
– A Look at Future of Home Office Cost Sharing (Sept 2020)
Survey of executives responsible for providing work-from-home tools for employees and their view of the future. A profile of the future of home office provisioning, delivery and returns, and the surprising ROI. The September 2020 survey focused on who employers think should pay for home office technology, furniture, and other costs.
– Kate Lister’s U.S. Senate Testimony on Telework (July 29, 2020)
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics was one of three witnesses invited to testify at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works titled, "Lessons Learned from Remote Working during COVID-19: Can the Government Save Money Through Maximizing Efficient Use of Leased Space." This is her written testimony. A link to the video is included in the document.
– State of Remote Work 2020—Owl Labs & Global Workplace Analytics
For Owl Labs’ 4th annual State of Remote Work Report, we partnered with the leading remote analytics firm, Global Workplace Analytics, to learn more about the current state of remote work in 2020 and what lies ahead. We wanted to uncover remote work statistics and gather the current work from home trends to provide you with a comprehensive remote work benchmark report during COVID-19. In…
– Telework in the 21st Century – Perspective from Six Countries (U.S. Chapter)
This is the U.S. Chapter of Telework in the 21st Century (Edward Elgar, 2019). The chapter was written by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish and is part of a multi-country study of telework conducted by Jon Messenger. It is based on peer-reviewed research and is regularly available for purchase at over $100. The chapter has been made available for free during the COVID Pandemic, thanks…
– Will Offices Go the Way of the Dodo Post-COVID-19
Will offices go the way of the dodo bird in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis? That’s a question on the minds of workplace designers, CRE and FM executives, employers and employees everywhere. According to this FMJ article by Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics and Dr. Anita Kamouri, Co-Founder of Iometrics, Inc.: "In a word, “no.” Evolution in the workplace as in nature,…
-Alternative Workplace Strategies—Fifth Biennial Benchmarking Study
This report summarizes the findings of a survey fielded in 2017. It represents a continuation of a study initiated by an organization known as NewWOW (New Ways of Working) in 2008. With support from Haworth, Inc., similar surveys were fielded by NewWOW again in 2009, 2011, and 2013. The purpose of the survey, from the beginning, has been to benchmark workplace strategies and practices and…
-Coworking: A Corporate Real Estate Perspective
An unfamiliar concept 10 years ago and poorly understood even now, coworking is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the commercial real estate market. In the few years since the concept began to take hold, the industry has grown to include more than 11,000 shared workspaces around the globe. While major U.S. and U.K. coworking markets are beginning to show signs of maturity, the demand…
-Flexibility for Volatility: Building a High-Performance Defense Workplace
The defense industry must continuously adapt to new and unpredictable changes– from shifting government mandates to the priorities of new administrations, procurement delays, budget changes, technology advances and global tensions. To capture what is affecting defense contractors today, HOK and Knoll partnered to study the trends driving the modern-day defense workplace. Global Workplace Analytics was enlisted to help with the research and content development. The…
-In Search of Intelligent Space
Download directly from iOffice website. Copy/paste this URL https://www.iofficecorp.com/workplace-intelligence
-Purpose Begets Engagement
While you can't create engagement, you can create meaning for every single job. If you do, engagement will follow.
-The Dollars and Sense of Well-Being
An article written Kate Lister for Work Design Magazine on how to quantify the impact of workplace design and work practices on well-being with tips on how to create a culture of well-being.
-The Future of Workplace Experience-Tying it to Business Outcomes
Will changes we make to our workplaces and work practices help attract and retain talent, increase productivity, foster creativity and innovation, reduce costs, boost revenue, or help achieve other business goals? New approaches can answer the question.
-The New Financial Workplace
An HOK paper (with research and content contributions from Global Workplace Analytics) that investigates the forces reshaping the financial industry and how workplace design can position companies for success. As the nature of work continues to change in the financial industry, the workplace is adjusting with it. In the near future, the convergence of technology and financial services could result in financial services companies increasingly adopting…
Federal Telework – Return on Taxpayer Investment (redacted)
Federal Telework: Obstacles and Opportunities (redacted)
Results-Based Management-The Key to Unlocking Talent, Increasing Productivity (redacted)
State of Telecommuting in the U.S.
This report focuses solely on full-time employees and does not include data on the self-employed or those who work at home less than half the time. (The entire work-at-home employee population is 10 to 15 times larger than those who do so half-time or more.)