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Telecommuting is Not Just for Moms and Millennials

September 10, 2015

For many years, I have done my best to avoid working in the office. This isn’t because I play by my own rules or like to swill Margaritas while I work, it is because the office is just too distracting and I get more done when working from home.

I am not alone. Half of more than 2,600 people recently surveyed by FlexJobs reported that they were most productive when working from home. Only one in four respondents said they were most productive at the office during normal work hours.

The reasons that working from home beats the office are many, including fewer interruptions from colleagues, which 76 percent cited as their reason for choosing work from home over the office, fewer distractions (74 percent), minimal office politics (71 percent), reduced stress of commuting (68 percent), and more comfortable office environment (65 percent).

Businesses are finally waking up to the benefit of letting workers telecommute, too.  A recent study by Stanford economics professor, Nicholas Bloom, teamed up with China’s largest travel agency, Ctrip, to discover the effects of telecommuting. The study found that home-based employees worked 9.5 percent longer than their office counterparts, and were 13 percent more productive. These employees were also happier, and saved Ctrip an estimated $2,000 per employee.

via Shutterstock

Businesses are seeing the advantages, and increasingly letting workers stray from the office cubicle. By some estimates, telecommuting has increased 79 percent between 2005 and 2012 and now makes up 2.6 percent of the American work force, or 3.2 million workers, according to the American Community Survey. If self-employed workers are included in the totals, it is now estimated that roughly 30 percent of the entire workforce telecommutes at least part of the time.

While the stereotype of the typical telecommuter is mothers and footloose twenty-somethings, in fact the typical telecommuting worker now is a 49-year-old college graduate who earns roughly $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey.

We’re not just talking about people on their smartphones, either; a recent study by Sprint found that more than 80 percent of telecommuters continue to use laptops and desktops as their primary work device.

Telecommuting has finally gone mainstream, and the office will never be the same.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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