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Smarter telecommuting, part I

A majority of white collar workers telecommute at least some of the time

How common is telecommuting?

According to a recent survey, the average worker telecommutes at least two days per month. Almost 40% of respondents said they have or are currently telecommuting, up from a baseline of 10% twenty years ago.

These results are exclusively for workers who telecommute during normal weekday work hours, not those who occasionally work from home at night or on weekends to complete an urgent assignment.

Researchers have concluded that people working from home are as productive as those who commute to their workplace. In addition, setting up the required proprietary computer connectivity and security is now relatively easy.

The rise of the Gig/Portfolio economy

Though the numbers of workers doing telecommuting leveled off in recent years, an increasing percentage of workers are self-employed, working from home–or at least manage an independent, contract-based enterprise from home.

The old employment model of working for a company from youth until retirement began collapsing over a generation ago. A significant portion of millennials and those of lower income now work multiple “gig economy” jobs, many on a project-by-project basis (e.g., people you can hire on TaskRabbit to help on tasks ranging from household chores and higher skills-based hands-on labor).

In addition, there is a parallel group of highly educated, well-paid professionals who currently work multiple jobs in what they call “portfolio careers.” Interestingly, many ‘talking head’ subject matter experts on TV have this kind of work life. They have busy, demanding work schedules, but earn good money. Unfortunately, by contrast, the majority of university/college instructors barely earn a living wage despite their graduate degrees.

Many employment forecasters predict that the gig/portfolio economy is the wave of the future, with a majority of us moving from one paid project to another, much the way actors move from one theater/movie production to another.

laptop remotely

Who telecommutes?

Telecommuting is very common among the college degreed, upper income, mostly white-collar top quintile (10%) of workers. Their jobs require a high level of computer literacy, so they can more easily transfer job tasks to a home office, whenever necessary.

In my next installment, I’ll describe common problems folks encounter when working from home and the best strategies for overcoming them.

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