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The Future of Work

More People Work From Home Now Than Ever Before

Our workweek is getting longer, and it's likely because we are doing more from home.

More People Work From Home Now Than Ever Before
[Photo: Annie Marie Musselman/Getty Images]

The traditional workweek is becoming obsolete.

Thanks to 24/7 connectivity, the boundaries between work and life are eroding, several studies have found. A survey from EY, a global assurance, tax, and advisory services organization, found that 64% of U.S. workers report they’re working two to four hours more a week, and one-third (36%) are on the job an extra five hours or more. No wonder satisfaction with work-life balance is sliding downward as well. Glassdoor’s most recent survey of employee feedback from about 60,000 company reviews revealed a drop in ratings from 3.5 (out of a possible 5) in 2009 to 3.2 this year.

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that part of the issue is that more people are working from home than ever before.

The BLS’s annual American Time Use Survey (ATUS) polled thousands of Americans on how they spend their days over the course of an entire year. BLS researchers quiz participants by asking what they did each hour on the previous day, as opposed to slicing up a day by activity categories and asking questions like "How many hours do you spend working?" They then average the responses to get the overall results, as well as breakdowns by age, gender, part time, full time, education, single job holders, and multiple job holders.

In 2015, the ATUS found that overall, employed persons worked an average of 7.6 hours on the days they worked. They put in more hours on weekdays (8 hours) as compared to 5.6 hours on weekends.

Here’s where it gets interesting: On the days they worked, 82% did some or all of their work at their workplace while 24% did some or all of their work at home. Thirty-eight percent of workers in management, business, and financial operations occupations, and 35% of those employed in professional and related occupations, did some or all of their work from home.

The number of people working from home increased from 19% in 2003 (the first year the ATUS was conducted) to 24% in 2015. Concurrent with the findings of the previous surveys on longer hours, the ATUS reveals that the average time employed persons spent working at home on days they worked increased by 40 minutes from 2.6 hours to 3.2 hours.

Breaking this down by gender, men who were employed full time reported working from home 3.24 hours on an average day while women working full time said they clocked in 3.44 hours on the average day.

Those who earned a bachelor’s degree are more likely to work from home. The ATUS found that compared to less educated workers, full time workers who are college graduates were the least likely to work at their workplace on days they worked (74%), and they were the most likely to do some or all of their work from home (39%).

Ninety-four percent of those with a high school diploma said they did their work at their employer’s facility, but the 7% who reported working from home logged nearly four hours at their residence. Those with an associates degree or some college reported working from home 3.58 hours on an average day. This is likely due to the types of jobs available for people without a degree are mostly service jobs that can't be done from home.

This may be because HR managers are offering more flex time. A 2015 Workplace Trends study found that nearly a third (29%) spent over $40,000 implementing a flex-time program last year, and more than half say they’ll invest more in those initiatives this year.

One of the more counterintuitive findings was the amount of hours logged by those with one job as compared to those who held down several jobs. Single job holders reported spending 3.28 hours working from home on their average day while multiple job holders spent 2.88 hours.

We tend to think of moonlighting as time spent in the wee hours working on a passion project. But most side hustles require workers to be in specific places. Freelancing gigs such as driving an Uber or being a Task Rabbit, for example, would prohibit work from home. And such contingent, temporary, or diversified employees have been on the rise in recent years.

The 2015 report by the Freelancers Union and online freelancing platform Upwork (FU/U) found that over a third of U.S. workers (nearly 54 million) did some freelance work in the past year. That represents a growth of 700,000 more freelancers than the previous year.

But according to FlexJobs, there are more opportunities opening for full-time remote work, even for those at the executive level. Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs says, "Professionals who’ve spent years honing their skills and experience don’t need to sacrifice their hard work in order to find better work-life balance."

Analyzing listings from more than 40,000 companies in the FlexJobs database indicates that companies ranging from Dell and UnitedHealth Group to Xerox, SAP, and Salesforce were among the top 25 employers with the most available remote jobs.

Although health care, technology, and education are the most well-represented industries, there are also openings in finance, hospitality, and research. Among them, Reynolds notes are more senior-level positions such as project management director, chief procurement and property officer, chief digital officer, chief product officer, and senior VP of employer operations.

Related: These Are The Top 25 Jobs With The Best Work Life Balance

Related Video: Eight Ways To Make Working From Home More Efficient

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