Out of the Office: More People Are Working Remotely, Survey Finds

More American employees are working remotely, and they are doing so for longer periods, according to a Gallup survey released on Wednesday.

Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.

That represents a four percentage point increase since 2012, a shift that meets the demands of many job seekers.

“Gallup consistently has found that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job,” the polling agency wrote in a report on those and other workplace findings.

“Employees are pushing companies to break down the long-established structures and policies that traditionally have influenced their workdays.”

Employees and some employers view the practice as broadly beneficial, saying that remote workers are more productive and that the additional flexibility can help to close the gender gap.

Here is a look at some of the report’s findings.

It is not just that more working Americans are working off-site; they’re doing so more often, too.

The share who said they spent a day or less a week working remotely shrank substantially from 2012 to 2016, falling to 25 percent from 34 percent.

At the same time, the share that reported working remotely four to five days a week grew by nearly the same amount, rising to 31 percent from 24 percent.

Although widespread, the shift toward remote work is not universal.

Remote work was less common last year than in 2012 for Americans employed in the fields of community and social services; science, engineering and architecture; and education, training and library.

Most industries, however, have embraced the idea — none more rapidly than the finance, insurance and real estate industries. The share of workers in those fields who report working remotely at least sometimes rose eight percentage points, to 47 percent, from 2012 to 2016.

In the transportation, computer, information systems and mathematics industries, well over half of employees work remotely some of the time.

But even in industries where the practice is popular, companies have struggled with how much to embrace remote work. In 2013, Yahoo received a lot of attention when it sought to bring workers back to the office. Last October, Aetna, the insurance giant known for its embrace of remote work, did the same.

In 2012, the workers who said they felt most engaged while working remotely were those who spent the least amount of time off-site. By 2016, that was no longer true.

Workers who spend none or all of their time out of the office reported feeling equally engaged last year. Those who spent 60 percent to 80 percent of their time away from the office had the highest rates of engagement.

“In spite of the additional time away from managers and co-workers, they are the most likely of all employees to strongly agree that someone at work cares about them as a person, encourages their development and has talked to them about their progress,” Gallup reported.

Those who spend three or four days a week working remotely were also the most likely to report thinking that they had a best friend at work and had opportunities for professional growth.