US Census data show that remote work has grown in the past decade

The Wall Street Journal crunched some census data, and learned that remote work has grown a bit over the past ten years, but in a non-uniform fashion.

Neil Shah, More Americans Working Remotely

More American employees are working from home at least one day a week—a trend that could lower companies’ costs and boost productivity.

Some 13.4 million people, or 9.4% of U.S. workers, labored at least one day at home per week in 2010, compared with 9.2 million people, or 7% of U.S. workers in 1997, according to one Census Bureau report released Tuesday.

wsj amercians working remotely


At the same time, Best Buy announced Monday that it was dropping its results-only work environment (ROWE) policies and making workers come to the office regularly, as reported by the StarTribune, and Tony Hsieh of Zappo’s was interviewed by CNBC about the firing of GroupOn’s CEO, Andrew Mason,  and they added a question about Marissa Mayer’s ‘no remote work’ policy. His reply?

Research has shown that companies with strong cultures outperform those without in the long-term financially. So we’re big, big believers in building strong company cultures. And I think that’s hard to do remotely.

We don’t really telecommute at Zappos. We want employees to be interacting with each other, building those personal relationships and relationships outside of work as well.

What we found is when they have those personal connections that productivity increases because there’s higher levels of trust.

This is a controversy that is still boiling, and I bet we will be arguing for years about the pros and cons of distributed work, because it is one of the most polarizing issues in American business today.