5 Reasons Remote IT Jobs Are Great
McKinsey Global published a report in late 2016 that examined the state of independent work in the Western world. It looked exclusively at the role of independent contractors and didn't delve into "normal" employees that simply worked remotely. But the numbers were still impressive.
Between 20 and 30 percent of the working-age population in the US and Western Europe, for a total of ~162 million individuals, engaged in some level of interaction with the "gig economy" (i.e., individuals providing products or services outside of a typical employer relationship). Approximately half of these freelancers do so full-time.
This isn't a static or temporary trend, either. The number of non-self-employed individuals working remotely has skyrocketed, rising by 173 percent since 2005, which is 11 percent faster than the remaining workforce. We often have a tendency to limit "remote work" in our minds to freelancers, but that is rapidly changing: the number of traditional employees now working from home has risen at almost 47 times the rate of self-employed professionals.
Sixteen percent of global companies are fully remote, with an additional 40 percent of companies worldwide operating in a hybrid state, with some work being accomplished at a corporate location and the rest being done remotely. That trend is even more pronounced in the United States, where remote workers in the U.S. put in hours outside of a corporate office 66 percent more frequently than the global average.
Understanding the Benefits to Employees
Working remotely doesn't have to fit into a box. When asked how their telecommuting is structured, respondents listed a half-dozen different types of schedules, from full-time remote work to various hybrid arrangements that allowed for a mix of remote and on-site labor. This potential to customize your calendar is just the first of many advantages; let's take a brief look at a few more that working remotely offers.
1. Remote Work Fosters a Better Quality of Life
The top four reasons people telecommute are to develop a better work-life balance (91 percent), have increased productivity and better focus (79 percent), experience less stress overall (78 percent), and avoid commuting (78 percent). This directly translates into more satisfied individuals, with those who work remotely saying they're happy in their jobs 29 percent more often than employees limited to on-site work. The most common New Year's Resolutions center around healthier lifestyles; 77 percent of people said that having a flexible job would allow them to eat better and exercise more.
The appeal is tremendous and well-deserved: 34 percent of US workers would opt to take a pay cut of up to 5 percent to work remotely. One detail that seems minor but can have a substantial positive impact is the ability to control your working hours. Night owls routinely struggle with showing up at a job at 8 a.m. and note that their most productive hours occur late in the day, while much of the earlier portions of their shift often feel wasted. Morning people can feel the same in reverse, wondering why they can't begin as early as they'd like and cut out by the early afternoon.
Being able to optimize your work schedule around your body clock can make a substantial cumulative difference in health, stress, and job satisfaction.
2. Remote Workers are Often (and Functionally) Paid More
Although people are willing to take a pay cut to work from home, it often translates to higher financial results. Remote workers earn annual salaries higher than $100,000 more than twice as frequently as on-site employees. Part of this is actually due to working more, but with a critical distinction. Remote employees indicate that they work more than 40 hours per week 43 percent more frequently than on-site workers do. However, while on-site employees work more when they feel they must, remote workers indicate that they work more because they enjoy what they do.
The flip side of earning more is that you spend less when working from home. Studies indicate that the average worker could save between $2,000 and $7,000 per year by telecommuting, primarily stemming from decreased transportation expenses (e.g., gas, car maintenance, tolls, and insurance). The average commute in the United States is 26.4 minutes each way, requiring nearly five hours of additional time per week—the equivalent of six workweeks per year.
Other significant savings areas include clothing and accessories expenses (e.g., dry cleaning and more frequent wardrobe replacement) and lower food costs. The typical employee spends $1,000 a year on coffee and $2,000 annually on eating out during work hours.
One of the most frequently cited motivations for staying home involves taking care of children and other dependents, which can increase potential savings exponentially as you have to pay less for caregivers.
3. Remote Work Results in Great Career Progression
A stereotypical concern is that being outside of an office environment and away from day-to-day networking opportunities will negatively impact someone's career prospects. However, the facts don't bear that out: 68 percent of remote workers say that they aren't concerned that working remotely will negatively impact their progression. In fact, the opposite is true: more than one in three respondents indicated that remote work provides more opportunities for quality employment.
Telecommuting also puts you in the position to advance your career by designing it around your schedule. Pursuing additional training, certificates, degrees, conferences, and boot camps is much easier when you're responsible for the results of your assigned work, but have more control regarding how and when it's accomplished.
4. Remote Employees Aren't Bothered as Much
Two of the top three time wasters in the corporate world are pointless meetings and constant interruptions. The typical employee attends 62 meetings per month, with half of that time considered wasted. That time accumulates quickly and ends up wasting 31 paid hours per employee every four weeks.
Employees frequently indicate that they daydream during meetings (91 percent) and miss meetings when they can (96 percent). Arguably the most enlightening statistic is that 39 percent indicate they've slept during meetings. The total cost of unnecessary meetings to the U.S. economy is $37 billion annually.
5. Remote Work is Productive
The typical employee experiences 56 interruptions a day, resulting in two hours just regaining focus after being distracted. Four out of five of these disruptions are considered trivial or unnecessary. Studies have repeatedly shown that desks are vacant more than half the time, a statistic that changes substantially when someone is working remotely.
Increased productivity directly translates into bottom-line profits. Businesses would save an average of $11,000 per year for every position they allowed to commute half-time. There are two primary reasons for this financial boon: while advantage No. 4 above indicated that remote work is more efficient, it's equally important to consider how making work more consistent also benefits companies.
For example, The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the loss of productivity from a single-day shutdown of federal offices in Washington D.C. due to snow is $100 million, while the five-year cost of implementing telework throughout the government would only be $30 million.
Remote Work is Changing the U.S. & Global Economies
Working remotely is a significant step in the evolution of our economy. If workers who had a compatible job and desire to work from home did so on a half-time basis, the national savings would be more than $700 billion per year. In addition to the numerous benefits to individuals and corporations, the advantages accumulate to broader realities, such as our environment. Making the aforementioned change would reduce greenhouse gases so significantly it would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce off the road — permanently.
If you're considering making the switch to working remotely, keep in mind that you don't have to do it all at once. The majority of people in this position do it on less than a full-time basis, allowing them to maintain a presence in the office while still capitalizing on the numerous advantages telecommuting creates.
Don't be afraid to ask for a more flexible work arrangement; remember that your employer can benefit just as much as you will. Remote work creates a win/win situation for you, your boss, and the economy at large.