Independent Thinking Blog

Is Telework a Trend in Waiting?

A new study of workshifting in the United States reveals big growth in the last couple of years–but the percentage of Americans who telework remains very small.

The State of Telework in the U.S. focuses specifically on people who work at home at least part time but are not self-employed. The numbers overall are very small: only 2.9 million people consider their home their primary place of work  (versus an estimated 50 million “who want to work from home [and] hold jobs that are telework compatible”).

“The typical telecommuter is a 49-year-old, college-educated, salaried, non-union employee in a management or professional role, earning $58,000 a year at a company with more than 100 employees.”


There’s some great data in here:

  • Government workers telework the most. Though the numbers remain tiny, the federal government is leading the way based on the percentage of its own workforce that teleworks.
  • Only 5 percent of private companies offer flexible workplace benefits. These are 2010 numbers, so you know workshifters are still at the  bleeding edge.
  • Baby Boomers are leading the way. As a percentage of their numbers in the workforce, Baby Boomers are far more likely to be teleworking. This doesn’t suggest that Millennials don’t want more flexibility–just that far fewer of them have it.
  • A college degree makes a difference. People with college and/or advanced degrees are far more likely to be teleworkers. This also correlates to income (higher-paid employees are more likely to have workshifting options) and to type of job (professional, managerial).

Forget what workers want; here’s the business case.

The State of Telework in the U.S. makes a compelling economic argument for flexible workplaces, from reduced office costs and employee productivity to energy savings to the impact on our carbon footprint.

People want more work flexibilty. The question is: will companies trust their employees enough to grant it?

Bonus Reading: Author Kate Lister has pulled out her own report highlights in The Who, What, Where, and Why Not of Telecommuting.

Photo by Pinoldy (Flickr).

You May Also Like