Web Work Continues Explosive Growth


WorldatWork (an international non-profit association of HR professionals) is out with their annual report on Telework Trendlines, based on phone surveys done last fall by The Dieringer Research Group of 1,001 adults 19 years and older in the United States. That’s enough to give their conclusions plus-or-minus 3% accuracy, and they’ve been doing these surveys for five years, so there’s valuable history here. Among their findings:

  • The number of employees who are allowed to work from home at least one day a month stands at 12.4 million, up 63% in two years.
  • Nearly 30 million people do all or part of their work remotely at least one day a month.
  • 14.7 million people engage in teleworking full time (hey, that’s us!)
  • Broadband and wireless use is growing faster in teleworkers than in the general population.
  • 40% of teleworkers have a household income over $75,000.

The number of full-time teleworkers is up 20% in one year. That’s a simply phenomenal number. The report’s authors suggest that this increase (and the general rise in the prevalence of teleworking) is due to a combination of increased availability of broadband and wireless, as well as “the trend by more employers to embrace work-life balance and flex-scheduling concepts.” Of course, those of us out here on the front lines know there’s another reason, too: once you escape the corporate embrace, it’s darned hard to go back. While it’s not for everyone, for those of us who thrive on it, web working is fun.

You can see the footprints of that in the survey where they asked people where they did their work. For those who telework, here’s the numbers (of course, many of us work in more than one of these places):

  • Customer or client’s place of business – 24.6 million
  • In the car – 24.0 million
  • Café or restaurant – 20.2 million
  • Hotel or motel – 17.8 million
  • Park or other outdoor location – 11.5 million
  • On airplane, train or subway – 10.6 million
  • Airport, train depot or subway platform – 9.1 million

Of course, not every bit of news here is necessarily rosy. You have to ask whether you really want to be so busy that you have to be working while you’re waiting for trains and planes? And for every two of those over-$75,000 workers, there’s an under-$40,000 one in the survey. But on the whole, the numbers here are encouraging if you’re a Web Worker. As I’ve said before, we’re the ones out ahead of the trends towards a new world of flexible, distributed, independent work. But the trend is definitely growing quickly behind us.



I think it’s pretty exciting. I was just working full time for a company working remotely making California money. For awhile I lived in Colorado and then Oregon and then eventually back to California….CA money was nice while living in the other states. I was making so much in proportion with the cost of living I could afford to fly myself out to CA once a week for team meetings.

I think that because business worldwide will be forced to embrace technology, companies will realize that as long as the work is getting done, why pay to lease and office building and all the costs incurred from that? I’m part owner of my own company and we only have a warehouse for shipping/receiving and all of us executives just work from our home offices or coffee shops with wi-fi. I’m saving a few grand a month on that alone and am spending that money on growing my business instead. Makes much more sense.

Some old school managers and executives that I know have a ‘thing’ about people telecommuting because they don’t feel like they can control what their employees are doing all day. LAME. I try to encourage them to let go so we all can get more done. If I don’t have to drive to work, I can start working a lot earlier and am more apt to work til later because I don’t have to accomodate commute time. I one of my employees is slacking while working at home, they get a couple warnings and if they don’t deliver still then SEE YA. That simple.



Even though I’ve always held a full-time graphic design job, a few years back I tried full-time freelancing and immediately discovered that it’s a very mobile line of work. And so I’ve experienced firsthand that laptops, smartphones, WIFI cards, Bluetooth devices, etc. aren’t just fancy toys—they’re enablers of a new kind of work that’s taking foot, freeing people from the traditional workplace.

I still do occasional side work. So it makes me both excited and proud to witness–and be part of, even in a limited way–this ongoing work revolution. Thanks for posting these encouraging stats…


My findings, to date, reveal a trend in that level of education seems to be at least under graduate level with only 1 out of the 43 employed teleworkers not being educated to this level.

I am reading an MSc in Facilities and Asset Management at Heriot Watt University. My related dissertation centres on establishing if home working is a viable alternative to the modern office environment. I have developed a questionnaire to gather information from people who have experienced working from home.

I would be very grateful if you could take 15 minutes to complete my questionnaire. If you think you may have the time to complete one then please drop me a note at andrew@ascb.eclipse.co.uk.

Mike Gunderloy

Good point, Steve. Even in the broad strokes painted by the report’s summary, it’s clear that web workers (or teleworkers, take your pick) are a diverse population, and that there are a lot of different reasons and ways that people are tackling this shift in the working world.

Steve Evans

I think you’ll find that a good chunk of the under $40k crowd is working part time. Especially full time parents that telecommute part time to keep financially afloat (and sane). So that’s not really a negative, but a huge positive for those that would normally be shut out of the work force but thanks to telecommuting are able to work part time.

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