re/code for Kato

October 16, 2014

I’m writing this from my house on a workday. I didn’t get stuck in traffic. I didn’t have to eat a soggy peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for lunch. And I was able to throw in a load of laundry during a team conference call. It was glorious.

The stats about telecommuting are frequently quoted — more than 13 million U.S. workers (9.4 percent) worked at least one day at home per week in 2010, compared with 9.2 million, or seven percent of U.S. workers in 1997. And since 2012, there has been a 20 percent increase in telecommuting in the U.S. Why the demand? Why do 79 percent of employees want to work from home at least part-time?

It certainly makes sense for employers. Studies show that remote offices save companies $11,000 in overhead costs per employee per year. The productivity argument holds water, with 53 percent of telecommuters putting in more than 40 hours per week. And it’s certainly better for the environment, as a lack of commuters reduces the carbon footprint. But are these the real reasons that telecommuting continues to grow and shape the way the traditional American office operates? I think not.

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