When most of us think of working a nine-to-five job we picture an employee who is working those hours in the office. However, a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that more employees are getting the job done at home. This study measures the amount of time employees spend doing activities that are both work and non-work related.  

  • While most employees still spend most of their hours at work in the office, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis showed that more workers in management, professional and related (MPR) occupations, especially, are working at home all or part of the time; they are three times more likely to work at home compared to people in other occupations. The analysis comes from the American Time Use Survey, which measures the time people spend doing a range of activities, both work- and nonwork-related.
  • Not only are MPR workers more likely than other employees to work at home, but they also worked on average fewer hours in the office and more hours at home on weekdays between 2013 and 2017 than they did between 2003 and 2007. The average worktime for MPR workers between 2013 and 2017 also varied by location — those who worked only at home worked the shortest length of time. BLS noted that people worked in different locations for various reasons, such as to fit in appointments, work around commitments or catch up on their work.
  • MPR workers in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, media, education, training and library occupations were found to be the least likely to work only at their worksite, while healthcare practitioners and technical workers were most likely to work only onsite.

The BLS analysis supports what other studies have also noted: employees are increasingly taking advantage of remote work options, and in some job positions — such as tech developers — remote working is considered the norm. Flexible work options, generally, have captured public opinion and factor into job seekers’ decisions over whether to accept a job offer, a previous IWG study showed; for that reason, 83% of employers have adopted a flexible workspace policy in the past decade.

A significant number of workers say they’d be more productive at home thanks to fewer distractions and interruptions and less stress from commuting, a 2018 FlexJob survey noted. But many employees particularly enjoy having the option to choose where to work, even if that option tends toward the office for some demographic groups. Despite the growing popularity of such arrangements, however, many still do not have a flexible work policy in place; only 36% of respondents to a Randstad Workmonitor study said their employers support flexible work options.

Improved technology has enabled MPR workers to work from home or other remote locations. For jobs that don’t allow remote or flexible work options due to the nature of the work, such as in healthcare or retail customer service jobs, some employers have instead opted for flexible or predictive scheduling programs to give workers more control over their work hours.

SOURCE: Bolden-Barrett, Valerie. (24 July 2019). “BLS: More employees are working from home regularly” (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/bls-more-employees-are-working-from-home-regularly/559305/