While much of the news in 2014 was centered around big name companies like Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard ending their telecommuting programs, a huge number of companies were actually adding telecommuting options for their employees and hiring for new positions that allow professionals to work from home. That's part of the reason that I'm excited to see what the year brings for the remote (or whatever you want to call it -- work from home, telecommuting, virtual, dispersed, cloud, geographically neutral, etc.) workforce!
In 2013, companies large and small were quietly adding to their ranks a variety of work from home positions. In fields like healthcare, computer and IT, nonprofit and education, government and politics, accounting and finance, the arts, and many others, work from home opportunities were offered on a regular basis. My team queried our database of over 25,000 companies to determine which posted the most telecommuting and work from home jobs in 2013. And the results demonstrate the huge variety in terms of size and industry of companies who support telecommuting and higher remote workers. From the 100 top companies offering remote jobs in 2013, here are the top ten:
- UnitedHealth Group
- American Express
- First Fata
The 100 companies on our list are the more enlightened ones. And already early in 2014, there's active banter as more companies turn to telecommuting as a way to keep their employees productive when cold temperatures and major weather events keep them from getting into the office. And as the year continues, the reasons why companies should embrace remote work policies will keep coming every time there is an emergency situation that effects people's commutes, from ice storms to hurricanes, BART strikes to MetroNorth breakdowns. All of these help make it more obvious how remote workforce technology can benefit companies when they would otherwise have to close or lose productivity.
But the companies who are offering telecommuting jobs are only half the story. In 2013, we also saw hundreds of thousands of professionals actively seeking telecommuting jobs and flexible work options. Just like the companies who offer them, job seekers who want remote jobs are a wide and varied group.
Military spouses need telecommuting jobs to take with them when their enlisted husbands and wives are deployed. Working moms and dads need telecommuting jobs that help them balance the demands of parenthood while remaining active participants in the workforce. Boomers need telecommuting jobs to supplement their retirement income as they transition to a new stage in their lives. People with disabilities need telecommuting jobs so that they can continue to contribute to their professions. Caregivers need telecommuting jobs so that they can support elderly parents, or children with special needs, while bringing in income. Stay-at-home moms need telecommuting jobs so that they can reconnect with the workforce if and when they're ready. Graduate students and young college grads need telecommuting jobs so that they can expand their options as they start their careers.
Everyone can benefit from telecommuting jobs. Studies from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, have shown that telecommuters are 13 percent more productive than office-bound workers. And companies who actively hire engage and retain remote workers have lower operating costs, increased productivity, and better employee retention. In the Stanford study, the company that implemented telecommuting saved $1,900 per telecommuting employee, and reduced their turnover by a full 50 percent.
Finally, as our economy continues to slowly recover, telecommuting jobs can help bring work to economically depressed areas where jobs are most needed. They can help small businesses and startups grow their staff without requiring costly office space. Telecommuting jobs can reduce congestion on clogged highways across the country. As companies like those in this list and in the top 100 companies who offered remote jobs in 2013 demonstrate, the benefits of remote jobs far outweigh the negatives, and 2014 looks to be the year of the telecommuter.