How Many People Really Use Virtual Offices, Anyway?

TORONTO--Wondering how many people really telecommute from a virtual office? Global Workplace Analytics promises to keep the latest data on how many people telecommute and how often they do it.

“The Census Bureau collects data on how people travel to work, with one option being not traveling at all. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) captures information on where and when they work,” Global Workplace Analytics reports.

“BLS also polls companies about whether they offer flexible workplace options. The IRS and the SBA gather information about home-based businesses. And the Office of Personnel Management(OPM) tracks telework practices in the federal workforce.”

Global Workplace Analytics has a 27-page whitepaper called The State of Telework in the U.S. that offers in-depth analysis of telecommuting data. Its charts were last updated Oct. 2012, which is just about as good as it gets for virtual office data. And so … drum roll, please … the number total number of employee teleworkers in 2011 was 3.148 million.

There’s lots of talk about virtual office use in the public sector, but virtual office use is also growing in the private sector and among non-profits. Both for-profit and non-profit companies posted 4.5 percent year-over-year teleworking growth.

Who uses virtual offices? Global Workplace Analytics reports:

A typical telecommuter is 49 years old, college educated, a salaried non-union employee in a management or professional role, earns $58,000 a year, and works for a company with more than 100 employees.

Relative to the total population, a disproportionate share of management, professional, sales and office workers telecommute.

Using home as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ per the Americans with Disabilities Act, 316,000 disabled employees regularly work from home.

Non-exempt employees are far less likely to work at home on a regular or ad hoc basis than salaried employees.

Over 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year putting them in the upper 80 percentile relative to all employees.

Larger companies are more likely to allow telecommuting than smaller ones.

Non-union organizations are more likely to offer telecommuting those with unions.


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