Why Remote Work Is On The Rise In America

U.S. employees clearly want the option to work outside the office.

Despite big companies like Yahoo, IBM and Bank of America calling remote employees back to the office, the number of Americans working remotely continues to grow, as this Wall Street Journal article explains.

Writer Christopher Mims cites a recent survey from Dell showing that 58 percent of their 110,000 employees reported working remotely at least once a week, despite only 17 percent being “formally authorized to work wherever they prefer.” That’s a nationwide trend: Mims points to Gallup surveys that found 43 percent of Americans did some or all of their work from home in 2016 compared to 39 percent in 2012. In the same time period, the amount of people who only worked remotely jumped from 15 percent to 20 percent.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

There are a few reasons why working remotely is becoming more common, including tools that help streamline team communication, like Slack and video conferencing. However, as Dell’s chief human resources officer Steve Price told Mims, not all jobs are equally suited for it: “Engineering, leadership R&D, sales and customer support — those are roles that don’t lend themselves very well to remote work,” Price said, adding that HR, data science and “other support functions” are better fits.

Technology certainly makes working remotely more feasible and less disruptive for companies, but Price told Mims “you have to be committed to this digital transformation, and be ready to invest to do this well…otherwise you have a lot of morale issues, engagement issues and a bad cultural response.”

In industries where remote work is a possibility, employees may be more productive and engaged, as this New York Times article reported in February. Plus, the flexibility to make your own schedule is something Americans rank almost as high as health insurance in terms of in-demand job perks, according to a recent Harvard Business Review piece. Companies, take note.

Read more on WSJ.