Quick survey: how many people reading this are working from home? 

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By: Allison Clark, Leasing Broker, JLL

Telecommuting, a.k.a. work from home or WFH, is catching on – in a big way. According to the Society of Human Resource Management’s 2016 benefits survey, 60 percent of companies offer telecommuting. In the 1990s, only 20 percent offered work from home options. In 1995, Gallup found that nine percent of workers worked from home. By 2015, work from home numbers reached 37 percent.

Photo credit: JLL

Of course, this doesn’t mean that more than a third of workers are just lounging around in pajamas and fluffy slippers all day long. Although, regardless of what you wear, telecommuting can be quite productive and is often used as an alternative to going into the office.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, almost a quarter of all employed people did some or all of their work at home in 2015 – that’s 1 out of 4. Also, a recent JLL article states that a balance of working at the office and working remotely is best.

Mobility

Technology is a big reason for telecommuting’s spread. The Bay Area alone has seen an increase of widespread access to broadband and wi-fi hotspots, the emergence of cloud computing, the mobility of hardware and development of business-based software solutions have all contributed to an interconnectedness in the world of commerce that has spurred a ‘work from anywhere’ culture. Well, that and traffic.

About 44 percent of the Bay Area’s labor force live in the East Bay, accounting for 60 percent of the region’s congestion. Bay Area commuters spend on average up to two hours per day in traffic driving from the East Bay to San Francisco. It’s not hard to figure out that working from home would alleviate some of the cars on the road.

Productivity

Telecommuting also has support among some notable captains of industry. Virgin founder and CEO, Richard Branson once blogged: “Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” Anyone thinking that productivity can only be achieved in an office environment might look to him.  He’s had a pretty productive career.

Working from home has clear benefits for the employee – and not just because you have time to feed your cat, or throw in a load of laundry. Telecommuting cuts down commuting time, and costs. Employees in areas underserved by transit or prone to traffic congestion are big beneficiaries of this. Many employees who work from home also report they are more productive, less stressed, and have better morale.

Second thoughts: those last two benefits could also be due to the opportunity to binge watch ‘Stranger Things’. (Seriously, it’s well worth it.)

Corporate benefits

As Branson and other business leaders undoubtedly know, there are benefits for the organization too.  Among them:  employee retention; enhanced productivity; recruitment appeal, especially in the all-important millennial demographic; and, of course, the opportunity to engage in a more efficient use of real estate.

Working from home has become so entrenched within our society that even residential developers are starting to respond. High tech, communal workspaces are popping up in apartments and condos in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. These spaces offer meeting and conference rooms, sometimes with videoconferencing facilities. One building in Chicago even has a ‘maker space.’

About me:

I partner with high growth companies to find creative, flexible and efficient office space so they can focus on building their business and recruiting top talent. I’m also passionate about strengthening the San Francisco women’s business community, serving as a co-founder of the JLL Women’s Executive group and chair of the JLL Women’s Business Network events committee. I am an avid hiker and enjoy spending weekends in Yosemite or wandering the California coast.

You can call me directly by phone at (415) 395-4943 or via email at allison.clark@am.jll.com.

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