Anyone unconvinced that the future is flexible needs only look at the recent research showing that location variety—including location independence—increased 159 percent in the United States between 2005 and 2017.
The statistic comes from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs' joint analysis of the American Community Study, the most current remote work data from the U.S. government, collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and released in 2018. The researchers tallied the number of telecommuters, counting only the "non-self-employed people who principally work from home at least half-time." And their analysis also revealed that the ranks of telecommuters in the United States, 3.9 million in 2015, currently stands at 4.7 million.
This revelation dovetails with the results of the 2019 IWG Global Workspace Survey, which found that more than half of businesspeople around the world are already working outside of the office for at least 2.5 days a week.
Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, distilled the argument for location variety in a statement about the new research, saying, "Talent shortages are fueling the growth of workplace flexibility right now because not only is it one of the most sought-after benefits among job seekers today, it also expands the talent pool by allowing employers to hire the best and the brightest from around the world."
Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, added: "Remote work has grown steadily since 2005, as companies of all types—private, public, nonprofit, or startup—continue to recognize the bottom-line benefits of integrating remote work into their business strategies."
In Werk's flexibility framework, we call the ability to work remotely part of the time DeskPlus, which is different from Remote, a.k.a. location independence. In our own research, we found that DeskPlus is the most sought-after of the six flexibility types, demanded by 84 percent of the workforce. And it's no secret why: DeskPlus helps employees find focus away from the distractions of a shared workplace, it drastically reduces weekly commute time, it makes life and work more compatible for employees who have caregiving responsibilities or mobility challenges, and it even keeps the workforce healthy and away from contagions.
Plus, research has shown that Remote and DeskPlus employees are nearly twice as engaged as their peers and that workers who spend 60–80 percent of their workweeks outside of the office enjoy the "optimal engagement boost."
These benefits show that everyone wins with flexibility—employee and employer. And the new research shows that companies around the U.S. are freeing their employees from the cubicles and reaping these benefits for themselves.