More companies are embracing remote work and flex scheduling.
By: Karsten Strauss
An annual public survey of more than 5,500 people sheds light on why many prefer to work outside the office. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
It seems obvious that many would like to do their jobs from the comfort of their own homes – or anywhere they choose – but those who want to work remotely have specific reasons they prefer not being in the office.
According to an annual public survey of more than 5,500 people who work remotely or are interested in doing so – compiled by a flexible job search and info platform called FlexJobs – the top factor many professionals use to determine which job to choose is whether the prospective employer can help them achieve the ever-desirable work/life balance. Of those who responded to FlexJobs’ survey, which was conducted in August, 72% said as much.
Other important factors included the money and the power to control a flexible schedule, said 69% of respondents. The ability to telecommute was also important, said 60% of those who answered the survey. Work-life balance has been the number-one choice listed in the survey since 2013, says FlexJobs Senior Career Specialist Brie Weiler Reynolds, and the other factors are also fairly constant.
But the search for jobs that allow remote work is not all about the creature comforts of home; many feel they simply do a better job when they can choose where they work. About 66% of the respondents to FlexJobs’ survey said they are more productive when not in the office. Why is that? Well, 76% said there are fewer distractions overall. Avoiding the stresses of commuting was a factor for 70%.
Other reasons for toiling off-site, said survey respondents, were to avoid office politics (69%); be in a quieter environment (62%); wear more comfortable clothes (54%); and to personalize their office environments (51%). Less-frequent meetings was a factor for 46%.
There is a perception, says Reynolds, that remote work is mainly sought by caregivers, students looking for a paycheck, or working parents—those who feel the constant pull of other aspects of life and want to eschew the time-suck of a daily commute or the rigid requirements of an office presence. Yet FlexJobs discovered that only 35% of survey respondents identified as working parents, and only 9% were caregivers or students.
Other categories respondents identified with included freelancers (26%), introverts (23%), and entrepreneurs (21%).
When it comes to what type of flexible work is most appealing, the vast majority of respondents said they would like to work remotely all the time (81%). Additionally, 70% said they would be interested in simply working on a flexible schedule and 46% would be okay with working remotely only some of the time.
Employers, says Reynolds, are further embracing the remote work and flexible schedule dynamic as well, despite some publicity to the contrary: IBM reigning in remote workers, AETNA reducing home workers, Honeywell cutting the remote option or Bank of America calling workers back to the office.
“There have actually been many more companies advertising for more telecommuting jobs, adding on telecommuters, deciding to close their offices and go more completely to telecommuting instead of having the hybrid in-office work model,” says Reynolds.
Companies that have been following that growth trend include Amazon, Salesforce, Philips, Nielson, Dell, and Sigma. “When you hear of those companies that are closing their remote work programs it might seem like, ‘oh, this is it — the end of the trend,’ but it seems like more companies are taking it on. It just doesn’t get quite as big headlines as when a big company like IBM decides to end it.”