Are you reading this while “working” at home?
You’re not home alone.
New Gallup research finds significant increases in the number of Americans working outside the traditional office and substantial increases in the amount of time they are working there, usually at home.
Five years ago Gallup found 39% of the country’s workforce spent at least some time working away from the office. This year that number has inched closer to half, 43%, with no signs of slowing.
Five years ago less than a quarter of workers (24%) spent 80% of their workday away from an office. Today, nearly one-third do (31%). All part of an ongoing revolution in the American workplace thanks to electronic innovations and changing work habits and social roles.
Not every industry is suited for remote workers, of course. Automobile assembly lines, for instance, would be rather cumbersome if a chassis had to go to every worker’s house for each new part. But Gallup found remote working increasing in most industries, especially insurance, real estate and finance. Science, engineering and library workers not so much.
The appeal is obvious for workers. No expensive and annoying commutes in traffic or crowded public transportation. Casual Friday dress (or sleepwear) every week day. Flexible work hours to address family needs such as childcare and doctor appointments. Possible tax deductions.
Remote-working might cut down on work collegiality,. even with Skype or Go-to-Meeting, there being no communal water-coolers at home. Not every job position fits into remote work. And, to be honest, office romances could be handicapped. Which might be good too, come to think of it.
Some companies have cut back on permitting work-at-home, citing adverse impacts on teamwork and corporate performance, given feared distractions at home. Bank of America, Best Buy and Yahoo are among some companies that have eliminated or curtailed work-at-home opportunities.
IBM also eliminated work-from-home in certain fields such as marketing and engineering, seeking to enhance personal collaboration and communications.
As a veteran of a decade of remote working from home, I can report that work hours are actually longer given the out-of-office independence and the absence of a time clock and need to beat traffic or catch a train. And, to be honest, concerns over reduced work performance because of distractions are way overblown. In fact, ….oh, wait. Someone’s at the door.