Note: As of the date of this posting, the number of telecommuters is increasing suddenly and dramatically due to efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s too soon to know whether these temporary measures will change the balance of onsite and remote workers on a permanent basis. It seems likely, however, that a successful remote working experience now will open the door to more demand for the ability to work from home after the health crisis is over.
With that in mind, we are presenting a series of 3 articles concerning telecommuting and the home office benefit. We hope the information and tips in this series will prove valuable to your company whether telecommuting is a short-term solution or part of your ongoing benefits package.
The years between 2009 and 2019 saw a 91% overall increase in telecommuting.1 And contrary to what some people believe, it isn’t just the youngest workers who are doing it. As of the beginning of 2020, the typical remote worker was 45 years old (or older).2
Two factors have contributed to the rapid growth of remote working arrangements. One is advancements in computer and internet technology that make it easier and more practical for people to do their jobs and collaborate while working offsite. (According to FlexJobs, 50% of the US workers now have jobs that can be done remotely at least part of the time.3) The other factor is the increased competition among businesses for the most highly qualified employees, many of whom either live too far away to commute on a daily basis or have personal or family needs that make telecommuting preferable.
It’s About Flexibility
Remote working arrangements are one way to give employees something research says they value highly: flexibility. Among surveyed workers, 76% said they would feel more loyal to an employer who gave them flexible work options.4 And 61% have either left a job or considered leaving it because their employers were inflexible.5 That number goes up to 70% for Millennials.6
It’s About Work-Life Balance
Closely tied to flexibility is another major concern of today’s workforce: work-life balance. Working from home at least part of the time helps employees manage family-related needs. Workers also say that it contributes to stress reduction and better health. Eighty-three percent of Millennials rank it as their number one consideration in considering a new job.7 It’s nearly as important to Baby Boomers, six in ten of whom also consider it the most important factor when considering a new position.8
It’s About the Costs of Commuting
The average work commute in the United States takes approximately half an hour.9 Many workers spend twice that time—or longer—getting to and from work. So, it’s not surprising that one in four persons have quit a job because they got frustrated with the commute.10 And then there’s the expense factor. It’s estimated that working remotely saved workers an average of $4,523 in fuel costs alone.11
It’s Also About Savings for Employers
There’s a flip side to the savings employees can realize by working remotely. More people working offsite can save money for your business by reducing needs for office space, furnishings, equipment, new-employee relocation, and other costs related to staffing and accommodating a large on-site workforce. Remote work can even save on payroll. Thirty-four percent of U.S. workers surveyed say they would accept a salary 5% lower than the one they have now in exchange for the opportunity to work from home.12 One study suggests that even employees who spend half their time telecommuting and the rest of the time in the office can save companies an average of $11,000 per employee, each year.13
It’s a Big Part of the Future of Work
As of the beginning of 2020, 69% of employers offered at least some work-from-home flexibility and 27% made it available full time.14 More recently, the need for social distancing caused by COVID-19 has swelled the ranks of remote workers dramatically. Although the sudden and unplanned transition from onsite to offsite work has brought challenges, it’s likely we’ll see a sharp spike in interest in work-from-home arrangements once things return to normal.
Editor’s Note: TASC is here to support our customers and provide benefits to assist those in need of creating and maintaining a home office/remote workplace. Our tax-advantaged Home Office Account provides a convenient way for employers to quickly reimburse employees for their eligible home office expenses and help ease their financial burden. We have other benefit account offerings tailored to help your employees with unexpected expenses that incur during times of need or in response to a changing workplace. View benefits here - https://tascresponds.com/employee-benefits/
1 “159% Increase in Remote Work Since 2005….,” Flexjobs, July 2019: https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-gwa-report-remote-growth/
2 “Telecommuting no Longer a ‘Perk’,” ProTech, March 2020:https://protechitjobs.com/telecommuting-no-longer-a-perk/
3 “FlexJobs 2019 Annual Survey: Flexible Work Plays Big Role in Job Choices,” FlexJobs, August 2019: https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/survey-flexible-work-job-choices/
4 “FlexJobs 2018 Annual Survey,” FlexJobs, September 2018: https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/flexjobs-2018-annual-survey-workers-believe-flexible-remote-job-can-help-save-money-reduce-stress-more/
6 “Millennials Want Jobs to Be Development Opportunities,” Gallup, 2016; http://tiny.cc/gallop
7 “Survey Explores Varying Attitudes of Millennials….,” Flexjobs, September2018: http:/tiny.cc/flexjobs18
9 “Stuck in Traffic? You’re Not Alone,” NPR, September 2018: https://www.npr.org/2018/09/20/650061560/stuck-in-traffic-youre-not-alone-new-data-show-american-commute-times-are-longer
10 “The Benefits of Working From Home,” Airtasker, March 2020: https://www.airtasker.com/blog/the-benefits-of-working-from-home/
12 “45 Key Remote Work & Telecommuting Statistics for 2020,” Owl Labs, December 2020: https://www.owllabs.com/blog/remote-work-statistics
13 “Latest Work-At-Home/Telecommuting/Mobile Work/Remote Work Statistics,” Global Workplace Analytics, March 2020: https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/telecommuting-statistics
14 “2019 Employee Benefits,” SHRM, 2019: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/benefits19.aspx