What is the outlook for the future of telecommuting? These stats will surprise you!

In a society where people are always on the go and grow seemingly impatient while being stuck in rush-hour traffic, the thought of working remotely can be quite appealing. The reasons why employees and employers push for telecommuting are aplenty. From an employee’s standpoint, virtual employment offers work flexibility, a reduction in commuting, and a less stressful environment. From an employer’s point of view, overhead costs can be reduced greatly, while being able to pitch the aspect of working from home as a ‘perk’ to the employees. The mutual beneficial aspect of telecommuting is why the workforce paradigm has shifted over the years, and will continue to increase in the foreseeable future.

Barriers to consider

According to a Regus poll conducted, the biggest barrier to telecommuting, by a wide margin, is management fear and mistrust. An overwhelming 89% of people said that their managers needed to accept flexible working arrangements more, while 85% stated that they wanted their bosses to show more trust in their current remote workers. Could this be mitigated with implementing employee monitoring software? Maybe, maybe not, as this suggestion may feel a bit uncomfortable to both parties involved. How then, can we instill the trust in our managers so that they would consider allowing employees to work from home?

Telecommuting over recent years

One might expect for telecommuting to have decreased during the recession, however, working remotely actually increased 16% between 2008 and 2012, and increased 79% between 2005 and 2012, compared to only a 1.8% decrease in the workforce. Interestingly, fifty million U.S. employees who want to work from home hold jobs that are compatible with telecommuting, though only 2.9 million consider home their primary place of work (2.3% of the workforce).

Projections for the near future

Where telecommuting was once only popular amongst the software and IT industries, it’s found its way into many other sectors (i.e. healthcare, banking, insurance, and more). Based on current trends, with no growth acceleration, regular telecommuters will total 4.9 million by 2016, a 69% increase from the current level. Let’s also keep in mind that the government is favoring flexible work, as is evident with the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. Some other factors indicating telecommuting will continue to grow include:

  • The needs and wants of an increasingly tech-savvy workforce
  • Ever improving communications and collaboration technologies
  • The desire for flexible work among retiring Baby Boomers
  • Continued pressures on companies for indirect costs of office space
  • Escalating fuel prices
  • Continued pressures on companies to reduce their carbon footprint

Thoughts? Have you noticed an increase over the years with the amount of remote telework jobs in your own company, or amongst your friends?

Update – Please check out the latest telecommuting statistics that were conducted in November 2014!