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THE BEST COMMUTE

Slowly but surely, working at home is becoming more common

A woman working on a computer at home.
Reuters/Marco Bello
A nice place to work.
By Dan Kopf
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The steady rise of Americans working from home continues. According to recently released data from the US Census, 5.2% of workers in the US worked at home in 2017—or 8 million people. That share is up from 5% in 2016, and 3.3% in 2000.

The rise has been aided by improved internet connectivity and the demand for more flexible work environments. A 2017 report by polling company Gallup found that work-from-home options helps companies retain their employees (paywall). Given that the evidence suggests working from home may also improve employee productivity, it’s a perk with few drawbacks.

Yet not all Americans are participating in the work-from-home wave. Like many other perks, it’s a trend more prevalent for the well-educated. A 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that college-educated workers are far more likely to do some work at home than those without college degrees.

As this suggests, the trend towards home work been particularly pronounced among certain types of workers. Managers, finance professionals, designers, and, above all, computer scientists have seen large increases. These high-skill professionals are in a position to negotiate to work wherever they want, and they use this leverage to their advantage. They may be leading the way to an office-less world.

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