Tired of fielding staff requests to work from home? Get ready to field even more.
New figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show large and growing numbers of American workers doing at least some work from home.
On average, the share of employed workers doing either some or all of their work at home has grown from 19% in 2003 to 24% last year, the BLS reports. During that same period, the average number of hours worked at home also increased, adding 40 minutes to expand from 2.6 hours in 2003 to 3.2 hours last year.
The findings come from the BLS’s American Time Use Survey, which the bureau has been conducting annually since 2003. For its latest report, the BLS conducted in-depth telephone interviews with some 10,900 individuals, asking them for detailed hour-by-hour (or even minute-by-minute) descriptions of what they did in the previous 24 hours.
The BLS surveys cover all seven days of the week, meaning some of the data covers weekends or other days when employed people are not officially working. “We also ask them where they were, and who was with them,” says BLS program manager Rachel Krantz-Kent.
Managers at home
A person’s occupation has a big impact on whether they work at home, the BLS found. Nearly 40% of workers in management, business and financial operations — the biggest percentage — did some or all of their work from home on the days they worked, according to the BLS. So did 35% of those in professional and related occupations; 22% of those holding sales and related jobs; 16% of those working in construction; 11% of workers in service jobs; and 10% of those in installation, maintenance and repair occupations.
“A lot of those occupations tend to be computer-based and service-based,” says Krantz-Kent. “So it makes sense that they can work at home.”
The self-employed, not surprisingly, are much more likely to work from home. The BLS found that in 2015, more than half (51.3%) of these workers did at least some of their daily work from home.
Among all those who worked at home in 2015, the number of hours worked varied by occupation, as well, the BLS found. Self-employed workers clocked the highest number of hours worked at home, an average of 4.23 hours a day. Among those with wage and salary jobs, the average amount of work done at home each day was a much lower 3.08 hours, the BLS says.
Education levels have a bearing on who works at home, too. In general, the BLS found that workers with more education are more likely to do at least some from home. Nearly 40% of employed workers over age 25 with at least a bachelor’s degree worked from home, making them the most likely to do so. By contrast, among those lacking a high-school diploma, only 7% did any work from home.
Income levels are another correlating factor. The BLS figures show that the higher a person’s salary, the more likely they are to work at home. Among full-time workers with a single job, more than 35% of those earning $1,381 a week did some work at home. By contrast, among those earning a much lower $560 or less a week, only 8% did any work from home last year.
Also, people holding multiple jobs are more likely to work at home than those with just one. More than 35% of multiple jobholders did some work at home, BLS found, compared with just 23% of those with a single job.
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