The number of people who work from home has grown substantially over the past decade. Nearly 50 percent of Americans say they work from home at least a little, and that proportion continues to grow.
Several studies have shown that even partial remote work lowers employee stress, reduces turnover, increases workers’ productivity, and helps companies reduce their bottom line. However, remote work is no longer limited to a portion of one’s load.
Now millions of Americans have the option to work full time from almost anywhere with technological assistance.
Full Time Remote Work is Possible Anywhere
Advances in technology and tools take much of the credit for the growth of the at-home worker. Reliable Internet connections and widespread data availability make it possible for most workers to be in constant touch with the office, even from a car.
Airplanes can now allow an Internet connection, which makes 24/7 connection with the office possible. Given a reliable mobile hotspot, workers may no longer have an excuse to say their Internet went out. With residential wireless, tasks can be completed no matter what the other impediments might be.
Companies may also invest in unlimited software to keep their employees on the same page. Conference calling software, project management apparatuses, screen sharing, video calling, cloud storage, cloud offices, and so much more are available. Firms can keep track of their employees’ work schedules and their workload with nothing but more than a device and an Internet connection.
As a result, the telecommuting workforce is growing rapidly. According to a Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs report, the number of telecommuters has increased 115 percent in the last decade. About 3.9 million workers, or 3 percent of the total U.S. workforce, work almost exclusively from home.
Study authors have offered theories about why staffers prefer to work more from home. One is increased flexibility for homes where two parents are working. There’s no need to pay for childcare when at least one parent works from home. Families can draw two incomes without the emotional and financial strain of childcare.
People who work from home also tend to report a higher wage than those in offices in a similar field. The study found that the average telecommuter made $4,000 more than a non-telecommuter.
Another major factor that encourages telecommuting is the simple ability to do so. Why spend time and money on daily travel when you can save that time and accomplish the same, if not more, at your home?
Some businesses can reduce their overhead by employing remote workers and freelancers, which encourages them to do it more often. This is another huge incentive for millions to work remotely.
Obstacles to Remote Work
If technology can make working outside the office possible, why don’t more people do it? Some obstacles stand in the way of remote work for particular industries.
Some jobs cannot be performed remotely, especially in the blue-collar realm. Construction workers can hardly build a 10-story building from their living room and our produce won’t pick and transport itself.
Certain white-collar work also requires hands-on attention, face-to-face meetings, and an office environment to get the job done properly. To do otherwise would be inefficient.
Millions of jobs still have the potential to be performed remotely, but they haven’t because a lot of people aren’t cut out for remote work. They don’t have the motivation or interest to work in isolation at home. They crave the presence of other people to motivate them.
Full-time remote work is a potential option for millions of people around the globe with the help of technology, but not everyone will take advantage of it. Some of the obstacles cannot be removed.
But we’re likely to see greater numbers of remote workers as it becomes a more accepted practice and further gadgets emerge that support remote work.