For a nearly two years I worked from home in Chicago while everyone else in an office in Dallas. Before that I held jobs where employees could work from home if they needed to. Inevitably the questions I received from friends and family fell into two categories:
1. “How lucky! It must be nice to work in your pajamas and not have to get up extra early.”
2. “Do you actually get any work done or do you just watch TV all day?”
How I responded changed over time. At first it was easy to get distracted, but soon enough I found myself logging on to work as soon as I woke up, eating lunch at my kitchen able while I worked, and not realizing that I was working at 6 p.m. when everybody back in Dallas probably left the office at 5. I originally viewed working from home as a novel way to avoid a commute to a dangerous trap that often resulted in me working much longer than my boss expected of me. A new CareerBuilder survey suggests the workforce is experiencing a similar shift.
When CareerBuilder surveyed workers in 2007, 18 percent of telecommuters said they spent eight hours or more working on the average day. In the 2011 survey, nearly twice as many telecommuters (35 percent) say they work eight hours or more each day.
Meanwhile, 17 percent of telecommuters spend one hour or less per day on work. Perhaps they’re part-time or contract workers who don’t necessarily need to put in an eight-hour workday, or maybe they’re a little distracted, like so many work-at-home employees are.
A day in the life of a telecommuter
Yet, while the number of daily telecommuting hours has increased over time, workers don’t necessarily consider their home office to be the most productive work environment.
When asked where they feel most productive:
-37 percent of workers feel most productive at the office
-29 percent of workers feel most productive at home
-34 percent find productivity the same at the office and at home
When asked to list the biggest distractions of working from home:
-31 percent say household chores
-26 percent say TV
-23 percent say pets
-19 percent say errands
-18 percent say the Internet
-15 percent say children
Who’s actually wearing their pajamas to work?
-41 percent of females wear pajamas when telecommuting
-22 percent of males wear pajamas when telecommuting
Decades ago, working from home wasn’t really a possibility unless you were a telemarketer or caretaker. Thanks to the Internet – oh, how we love you, Internet – more jobs than ever can be done from home, a café, an airport or anywhere that has wifi. Of course not all jobs have this flexibility. If you’re a surgeon, a construction worker or police officer, chances are you need to be on site. (Though, if there are exceptions to this rule, do share.) Expect the amount of telecommuters and their behavior to continue to evolve in the coming years.
If you’ve worked from home, were you more or less productive at home? Did you miss the camaraderie of a workplace or did you like working alone? Let us know.
Check out the infographic here for more survey results.