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The Way We Were vs. The Way We Are: A Look at the Work-From-Home Trend

The number of people who work from home, whether full-time or part-time, continues to increase. Just take a look at these statistics.
March 04, 2016 3 minute read


There’s a reason why legit work from home jobs are increasingly in demand. Working from home isn’t new, but the number of people choosing this path as opposed to commuting to their jobs every day has risen dramatically.

Take a look at how work-from-home patterns have changed over the years in the United States.

The Way We Were

According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau statistics provided by the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)—each conducted its own study—there was a significant increase from 1997 to 2010 in how many people worked from home. The bureau reported, “The percentage of all workers who worked at least 1 day at home increased from 7.0 percent in 1997 to 9.5 percent in 2010, according to SIPP.”

It’s important to note that during this 13-year period, technology made major advancements, no doubt facilitating a change in work habits. It’s safe to say that no one in 1997 was sending or receiving emails from their cell phones, texting, or face-timing. The Internet was still fairly new. If you had conducted a search for the latest iPhone model, you wouldn’t have had much luck.

Though telecommuting grew from the late 20th century through the first decade of the 21st century, the report found that the biggest increase, particularly for “home-based workers”—people who only work remotely rather than switching between telecommuting and physically going to work— took place from 2005 to 2010. Interestingly, this upswing occurred “when the overall number of employed people declined. During this time, the number of home-based workers went from 7.8 per­cent of all workers to 9.5 percent, an increase of about 2 million.”

MPX-Blog-WorkingFromHomeTelecommuting2As a result of the flexibility that working from home allows, people who telecommuted both all of the time or some of the time worked more untraditional hours in 2010 than in years past. “Both mixed (25.3 percent) and home workers (30.5 percent) were more likely to report working irregular schedules compared with onsite workers (12.1 percent),” the report said. This finding included working people who were 15 years of age and older.

Other U.S. Census Bureau statistics concerning work-from-home patterns during this time period can be found on their website.

The Way We Are

Gallup is an internationally recognized organization that conducts global research about trends and behaviors in consumers, workers and businesses, particularly employee-engagement, and provides professional advice based on its findings. In its survey from August 5-9, 2015, which explored the habits of people who telecommute from home even just some of the time, there were 1,011 participants, 18 years of age and older, all living in the United States.

According to Gallup, working from home is still not how the majority of Americans work but it has become an increasingly popular practice. “U.S. workers say they telecommute from home rather than go into the office about two days per month, on average,” Gallup said. Although many people are not necessarily working from home full-time, they are willing to use this option once in a while if their employer lets them.

Another factor behind the rise in telecommuting may be the changing attitude about working from home in relation to productivity. “The majority of Americans, including both those employed and not employed, believe workers who work remotely are just as productive as those who work in a business office,” said Gallup. This shift is significant because 47 percent had this opinion when Gallup inquired about it in 1995, and now 58 percent feel this way.

Furthermore, Gallup found a change in the way people work from home as well.

“In the past,” Gallup explained, “more telecommuters said they most often telecommuted outside of working hours in addition to going into the office during the day. But now they are as likely to say they telecommute during the workday instead of going to the office.”

Why Working From Home Is So Appealing

FlexJobs, a website that shares work-from-home job listings, conducted a survey in 2014 of 1,500 participants, and found that 79 percent of them were between the ages of 30 and 59 years old, 10 percent were in their 60s, and 9 percent were in their 20s.

According to FlexJobs, the main reason people look for a telecommunicating job is to have a healthier “work-life balance,” a sentiment shared by a whopping 74 percent of those surveyed. Other reasons they cited are their desire to improve their health and do more exercise, save time, reduce commuting stress, and cut travel costs.

The majority of survey participants said they had to endure more than an hour of commuting each day, so it’s easy to see why they’d like to create some type of work-life balance. It can be difficult to find that equilibrium if you’re spending much of your free time in traffic trying to get to and from your job. According to the survey, “88 percent said they thought telecommuting (instead of working in an office) would reduce their overall stress.”

Besides eliminating the stress of commuting, having the ability to decide when you start to work is another major motivator to telecommute. The survey found that 73 percent of the participants with “school-age children at home want job flexibility.” 

Though people work from home for many reasons, as these reports have shown, it’s definitely a growing trend. In fact, if things continue as they are, telecommuting could eventually become the norm.

Topics: Merchant Processing Sales

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