I spent a number of years in traditional corporate communications roles, including four years working remotely from my home office. While I travelled to the headquarters office at least a few days every month, I spent the rest of my time working at home.
I got used to both the challenges and the flexibility of my situation. So, when I came across an in-depth article in the Journal News with a headline about IBM and other tech companies bringing some of their remote workers back into the offices, I was intrigued.
The article provides a great perspective not only on telecommuting, but on the nature of today’s work environment. However, one of the more interesting facets of the article was the inclusion of supporting data on the number of people telecommuting.
For instance, based on the report, the total number of people spending half (or more) of their time working from home is roughly equal to 4 million people. For reference, that’s almost the population of the city Los Angeles. And while it only accounts for 3 percent of the workforce, that’s nonetheless a lot of people across the country working from home on any given day.
The article also gives a fairly detailed profile of the average telecommuter: 46 years or older, possessing at least a bachelor’s degree. I was surprised at the age group, which I expected to be younger. Much younger. Like, a decade younger. Turns out, it’s not just the younger generation doing all of the working from home or from the coffee shop. Gen X and some Baby Boomers are also taking advantage of the new flexibility that companies are offering.
Today, I work in an office with five colleagues. I rarely spend a full day out of the office, but there are occasions when I work remotely – which can mean either working from a coffee shop in between meetings (or, having a meeting at a coffee shop), or working from home. For communications professionals like myself, and for the 4 million people across the U.S. spending time working from home, technology helps keep us connected. However, as the article points out, there are other factors that come into play when working remote that companies need to be aware of, such as the toll it can take on employee engagement, which can in turn impact productivity and profitability. As the needs of businesses change, the nature of how and where we work is likely to evolve again, too.
By Will Memmott