Do you dread going to work? The long commute. Fluorescent lighting. Endless meetings. Lame office humor. And the cubicle that would feel like a prison cell if only it were larger. It’s not hard to understand why millions of Americans are unsatisfied with their work environments. Technology has allowed some employees to escape by working from home, but lies and myths may be keeping others trapped.
The Internet paved the way for telecommuters over the past decade. Including self-employed and non-self employed, the work-at-home population grew 29.4% from 2005 to 2012. Not including the self-employed, telecommuting increased nearly 80%. In fact, more than 3 million people now consider home their primary place of work. Despite these impressive figures and other research that shows telecommuting benefits, misconceptions continue to surround what working from home truly entails.
Both employers and job seekers can better understand the truth about telecommuting. Let’s take a look at five common lies people told you about about working from home.
1. All lower-level professions
The biggest lie about telecommuting jobs is that they’re all lower-level professions. In reality, the most legitimate telecommuting jobs are closer to managerial and even executive-level positions. FlexJobs, an award-winning job site, recently identified 15 executive-level telecommuting jobs currently posted in its database, ranging from director to vice president positions, to help illustrate this point.
2. Only a couple of industries offer telecommuting jobs
Truth be told, telecommuting jobs are available across a variety of industries and career fields. You don’t necessarily have to work in data entry or administrative fields. FlexJobs’ database has professional job leads in over 150 different job categories, from entry-level to executive positions, and ranging from freelance to employee jobs. The 15 executive-level telecommuting jobs previously mentioned range from financial and market research to education and healthcare industries. Some veterinary hospitals even offer work-from-home opportunities to upper management.
3. Telecommuting jobs don’t pay well
You may be surprised to learn the average telecommuter is a 49-year-old person with a college degree working at a company with over 100 employees. This average telecommuter is also probably compensated better than you think. Over 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year, placing in the upper 80 percentile of all employees. Overall, telecommuting jobs typically pay in the same ballpark (5-20% range) as compared to a similar job in a traditional office environment. Furthermore, you have savings from not commuting to work everyday, eating out for lunch breaks, or buying and cleaning professional work attire.
4. Telecommuting is just an employee perk
Spending time working at home instead of the typical office benefits employees and companies. FlexJobs notes companies that allow employees to work from home at least three times per month are more likely to report growth than companies that have more restrictive policies. Meanwhile, Intuit finds 38% of Americans are willing to take a lower salary in return for flexible working privileges.
Telecommuting may also benefit one’s state of mind. A recent report from the University of Montreal’s School of Industrial Relations finds commuting length, distance, and means are stress factors that can lead to job burnout. The risk of burnout increases significantly when a commute lasts more than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the average commute time in the United States is about 25 minutes. If telecommuting lowers burnout rates, that is a real benefit to the employer as well since high turnover is costly.
5. Telecommuters are slackers
Although some people may believe telecommuters are at home watching television all day instead of working, research finds working from home increases productivity and performance. An experiment by scholars at Stanford University shows people working full time from home are 13% more efficient. However, they are promoted less, and telecommuting isn’t for the easily distracted. When the experiment ended, half of the test subjects returned to the office despite having the opportunity to stay at home.
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