74% say flex work is the new normal

A new study indicates the upward trend and far-reaching benefits of remote work for both employee and employer in a wide-range of industries.

Managers have to rely on trust without transparency with remote workers

Businesses and their employees benefit greatly from the increasingly popular choice of remote or flexible work, a new study from FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics revealed. 

"Most of the discussions about remote work centers around the positive impact that workers and companies experience, but there are also a number of compelling broader economic, societal, and environmental benefits to this future of workplace trend," said Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, in a release. "In fact, remote work helps support eight of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. As more and more people join the remote workforce, its impact on people, communities, and the environment will only continue to increase."

The study chronicled the accelerated growth of remote work, which grew 7.9% in the span of a single year, from 2016 to 2017. For the last five years, remote work grew 44%, and over the previous decade, it grew by 91%.

And the increase in preference for remote or flexible work has continued. 

  • Between 2005 and 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work.

  • In 2015, 3.9 million US workers were remote workers.

  • Today, 3.4% of the population (or 4.7 million) are remote workers.

SEE: Telecommuting policy (TechRepublic Premium)

House buying is affected by remote work

The report examined the importance of the research to the everyday lives of the employees. More than 50% who work remotely claim remote work influenced a major home change, whether the 28% to move to a new household or the 24% to an entirely new location. 
 
"Morning drive-time" and its compelling radio holds little interest to commuters. In fact, commuting in general is unpopular: 30% of homebuyers cite their max commute at between 15 and 29 minutes. Only 12% of homebuyers are willing to commute an hour or more. 

A generational difference in remote work

Additionally, 62% of Gen Z and millennial homebuyers work remotely at least one day a week. 

Remote work is certainly the youngest two generations' "normal," especially when considering the increase (91%) in remote work in the last decade, before Gen Z was even of working age. Remote work allows Gen Z and millennials more flexibility in where they want to work, as it's no longer necessary for them to live near metropolitan cities to jump start their careers; they simply have more options with where they live.

SEE: The Internet of Wild Things: Technology and the battle against biodiversity loss and climate change (free PDF)  (TechRepublic)

Remote work is green work

Given the recent hits environmental protection has taken, many consider flexible work, notably from home, more environmentally friendly, as it reduces traffic congestion, air pollution, and road--and their personal cars'--wear and tear.

A previous FlexJobs report said: "Existing telecommuters reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking over 600,000 cars off the road for a year. If the work-at-home workforce expanded to include those who could and wanted to telecommute half of the time, the GHG savings would equate to taking 10 million cars off the road."

White-collar workers more likely to telecommute

Since most blue-collar jobs entail physical constraints (like agriculture and manufacturing), those jobs are the least likely to offer the possibility of remote or flexible work. However, the highest percentage of remote work is in high-salaried positions (white collar) such as software engineering and accounting, so in cities with a greater amount of high incomes, there's more opportunities for remote work. 

Remote workers have higher salaries

In the same previous FlexJobs report quoted above, the average annual income for telecommuters is $4,000 higher than those who work exclusively in the office. FlexJobs estimates that remote workers are able to save an estimated $4,000 annually more than the non-telecommuter population.

Last year's State of Remote Work survey noted, "The salary breakdown of remote workers surveyed was 74% earning less than $100K per year and 26% earning more than $100K per year. In comparison, the on-site worker's salary breakdown was 92% earning less than $100K per year and 8% earn over $100K per year."

Remote work is attractive to top talent

A study of 1,001 remote workers found they are 57% more likely than the average American to be satisfied with their job

There's also the reduction of typical stress levels, which 80% of respondents describe their state during the work week as "not stressed" or only "moderately stressed."

Remote work is attractive to employers

Productivity has increased with the adoption of a remote workforce, confirms 85% of businesses, and the reason cited is "greater flexibility."

Employee morale would get a big boost, said 90% of employees, who credited flexible work arrangements and schedules. 

Additionally, 77% of businesses said they predict lower operating costs by letting employees work remotely. 

FlexJobs' study found 65% of respondents more productive in their home office, rather than in a traditional workspace. They cite the reasons for their productivity as:

  • Fewer distractions 

  • Fewer interruptions

  • Less stress from no commute

  • Minimal office politics

  • A personalized, quiet environment

Remote work prevents the spread of germs

Whether it's due to less exposure to germs than in a traditional office setting or that working from home allows them more time to take care of themselves, 50% of remote employees said working from home reduced sick days, and 56% said it reduced their absences from work. 

Workers with a flexible schedule can manage mental health issues better and keep them working during difficult life events. 

Telecommuting improves employee loyalty

Remote workers have stamina--considering the heavy turnaround many tech jobs have, this too, is a good thing for both employee and employer, with 42% of people who work remotely full-time have done so for more than five years; 28% have been working remotely three to five years; 19% have been working remotely one to two years, and 11% for less than a year.

Remote work will continue to grow

Remote work is a world-wide phenomenon, with 41% of global businesses surveyed said they offered some degree of remote work to their staff, while 60% provide flextime opportunities, which allow employees to choose their workday start and end time. 

It's predicted that 73% of all work teams will have remote workers by 2028, and 75% of current telecommuters plan to continue remote work for the entirety of their careers.

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