If it seems like more and more people you know are working from home lately, you’re not imagining things. The U.S. Census Bureau released a report in September that shows over the last decade, the number of people working from home has risen 41 percent. Back in 2000, just about 7.4 million Americans reported working from home, and that number has increased to 13.4 million in just ten years.
And while working from home is becoming more mainstream, there still exists a certain mystique about this coveted work arrangement. After all, don’t people who work from home spend an inordinate amount of time in their pajamas? And aren’t they really just sitting around all day watching television while pretending to work? The simple answer is no on both counts — telecommuters are a serious group of professionals on the whole, and they take their work arrangements seriously too.
To bring everyone up to speed on home-based jobs, here are five things you probably didn’t know about working from home.
1) People work from home to avoid distracting colleagues. 82 percent of job seekers looking for telecommuting jobs reported wanting to work from home to get away from distracting colleagues in the office in order to be more productive. The survey of over 800 people interested in telecommuting found that professionals also want to work from home to reduce their commutes, stay out of office politics, be more comfortable, and have fewer overall distractions. No survey takers indicated they were hoping to watch movies and eat bon-bons all day.
2) Telecommuters are MORE productive and work longer hours than office workers. Last year, Stanford University tracked the work ethic and production of 250 employees who worked from home for nine months, as compared to their office-bound counterparts, and the results were well in the telecommuters’ favor. The employees who worked from home took 15 percent more calls and worked 11 percent more hours than their office-bound coworkers. And overall productivity for the telecommuters was 4 percent higher than for office-bound workers.
3) Companies save money when employees work from home. Alright, so this might be one of those facts that anyone could guess, but there’s now hard evidence to back it up. According to the Telework Research Network, large companies like IBM and Sun Microsystems are saving huge amounts by allowing employees to work from home. Says the Network, “IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million. Sun Microsystems saves $68 million a year in real estate costs. And Nortel estimates that they save $100,000 per employee they don’t have to relocate.”
4) Work from home jobs exist in almost every industry. The stereotypical work from home jobs like customer service, blogging, and direct sales are still very much a part of the mix, but most people don’t realize what a huge range of jobs there are, in almost every career and for every level of education. According to the Flexible Jobs Index, which tracks thousands of open telecommute jobs every month, the top five industries for telecommuting and other flexible jobs are medical, education, computer, administrative, and sales. Rounding out the top ten are web/software development, accounting/finance, nonprofit, project management, and research.
5) Work from home job scams are still a big problem. For all the legitimate work from home jobs on the market today, there are many more scam jobs and they get more sophisticated with time, just like a bottle of fine (scammy) wine. Some of the latest include: scammers using fake URLs pretending to be large, well-known companies like G.E. Healthcare and CNBC; scammers prowling LinkedIn offering too-good-to-be-true jobs to unsuspecting professionals out of the blue; and scammers hiring “mystery shoppers” to commit wire fraud through Western Union. If you’re looking for a work from home job, be on alert, be skeptical, and do your homework before accepting anything.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Content and Social Media Manager at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings, and a former career advisor. At FlexJobs, Brie offers job seekers career and work-life balance advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media.