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.


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