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The Big Answer

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The Work-at-Home Trend

The trend towards more and more Americans working at home fits right into MC-enhanced lifestyles. MC cottage industries will provide flexible work hours so that child-care schedules and work schedules can be coordinated for the benefit of everyone. MC cottage industries can create jobs for those in the MC, and in the process will provide opportunities for the kind of creativity the world so desperately needs to solve its problems. But even for those that work outside the home, the MC scheduler will be a great help for caregivers so that kids and elders needing care get only the best care as well as caregiver choices.

More and more Americans are working at home. The exact figures vary according to what surveys you read, and home workers are often defined differently. Those who work at home may work at home exclusively for their own home businesses, they may work solely for another business and do some or all of that work at home, or they may work outside the home for someone else's business and also have their own business at home.

As of 2010, roughly 2.8 million employees telecommuted a majority of the time (self-employed not counted)
As of 2010, roughly 2.8 million employees telecommuted a majority of the time (self-employed not counted)

Work-at-Home Statistics

In 1988, Fuji Photo Film did a home-office survey and found that 34 million people did at least some of their work at home. (That was approximately one third of the total labor force at that time.) The number working exclusively at home was 13 million in 1988, twice as many as 1978.

According to Telework Research Network, as of 2010, roughly 2.8 million employees (or just over 2% of the U.S. workforce) telecommute a majority of the time. This figure does not include self-employed workers or unpaid volunteers.

Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools
Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools

As of 2011, about 34 million people work from their residence occasionally, reports Forrester Research, a technology and market research company.

Forrester Research also predicts that the number of people who work remotely will nearly double -- to approximately 63 million people -- by the year 2016.

An estimated three million American professionals never step a foot in an office outside of their own home and another 54% say they are happier that way. New technologies like telepresence are making telecommuting more feasible, let alone allowing for expanding offices around the world.

An estimated three million American professionals never step a foot in an office outside of their own home
An estimated three million American professionals never step a foot in an office outside of their own home

Half-time home-based work accounts for savings of more than $10,000 per employee per year, according to Telework—the result of increased productivity, reduced facility costs, lowered absenteeism, and reduced turnover. Employees save somewhere between $1,600 to $6,800 and 15 days of time once used driving to work or taking public transportation.

A total of 47% of people who have the option to telework are “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared to 27% of those who are office-bound, according to Telework. Over two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their teleworkers. Contributing factors include fewer interruptions from colleagues, more effective time management, feelings of empowerment, flexible hours and, of course, even longer hours. The home office never closes. (Source: Telework Research Network)

Six Types of Home Offices

BIS Strategic Decisions, a market research and consulting firm, identifies six types of home offices:
  1. new entrepreneur—sole proprietor of a business; usually the only worker; accounts for the majority of the household's income
  2. contributor—runs business from home—it's less critical source of household income than entrepreneur's; earlier stage of development than entrepreneur
  3. dilettante—usually less interested in financial gain than artistic or other fulfillment; contributes less than 25 percent of total household income
  4. corporate beaver—has regular job outside home; brings work home evenings or weekends to catch up or get ahead in corporate world; may be looking to leave corporate world and become entrepreneur
  5. telecommuter—traditional employee who works at home at least three days each month. (Currently telecommuters spend more time in the office than at home, but this will be changing as more employees become telecommuters in the future.)
  6. chairman—principal or senior executive with more than 20 employees who occasionally works at home
    (Source: "Six Diverse Types of Home Offices," The Futurist, November-December 1991, p. 44)

Home Office Equipment and Predictions

Affordability of personal computers, printer/copiers, ipads, modems, fax machines, blackberries, cell phones, and other hi-tech home office supplies, plus the ease of use of software has made the home office a viable option for most people. (Source: Cutler, Blayne, "Getting Ahead in Slippers, American Demographics, February 1990, p. 11) Some had predicted a couple of decades ago that the machines could one day replace the U.S. Postal Service for personal mail. But then along came email, texting, chatting, smart phones, instant messaging—etc. Okay, bad prediction! Technology Futures predicted in 1991 that 60 million households would have a fax machine by 2000, with the heart of this market being people who work at home. It was also stated in June 1991 that about five percent of people who work at home have fax machines with that share increasing to 50 percent by 1995 and 95 percent by 2000. Okay, another bad prediction! People in 2013 can easily send and receive faxes by email without the hassle of a fax machine—and receive them as email attachments. No one saw that coming. Most office workers surveyed say they still use faxes, but only about 4% of homes do.

In the U.S., 55.28 per 1,000 people have faxes. (SOURCE: The Information for Development Program .) And it is estimated that there are 131 million fax machines still in operation around the world. A 1924 fax machine sent a page in 6 minutes, while in 2010 it takes 1.7 seconds. There were only about 30,000 fax machines in the United States in l970. Today there are over 18 million. Only Japan has more per person. Only about 3 to 5 percent of U.S. homes have faxes, but many fax makers offer fax-centered multifunction printers.

Home Offices, Parenting, and More Statistics

So how many home offices are there in our country? It depends on how you define them. If you call a room with a computer an office, then nearly everyone has an office—after all, eventually we all have to do work-related tasks on our computers, such as scheduling, taxes, mileage calculations, or communications to work via email.

California state employees who work from home have been rated by their supervisors as three to five percent more effective than they would have been if they had worked at the office. A study of California's two-year Pilot Telecommuting Project followed about 150 state employees who worked from their homes an average of 1.6 days a week. Child-care arrangements for young children were a prerequisite for participation. Parents found that having flexible work schedules solved their "latchkey" problem of after-school care for older children. Other benefits included a 37 percent reduction in peak-hour commute trips and a decreased need for office space, adding up to $7 in benefits for each dollar spent on the pilot project. (Source: "Report Finds Telecommuting Boosts Workers' Productivity," National Report on Work and Family, August 18, 1989, p. 3.)

In 2010, 9,374,000 people work only at home; another 4,028,000 work at home sometimes
In 2010, 9,374,000 people work only at home; another 4,028,000 work at home sometimes

About 75% of workers in the U.S. work 35 hours or more per week in 2012. Somewhere between 6 and 13 million people work at home in the U.S., depending on which study you consult. Total workers in the U.S. in 2010: 141,646,000. Onsite workers: 128,244,000. Mixed workers: 4,028,000. Home workers: 9,374,000. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

The entrepreneurial spirit that began in the 70s is still alive but has been thwarted by worries about the economy, slowing venture capital investment. In 1986 there were a record 700,000 new businesses started in the U.S. (In 1950 there were less than 100,000 new business incorporations.) However, only about 394,000 new businesses were formed in 2010, creating only 2.3 million jobs, due to the economy's sluggish recovery from the 2007-09 recession.

What is significant, besides the spirit of innovation and enterprise that entrepreneurs represent, is that small businesses begun by entrepreneurs account for most of the 20 million new jobs created in the U.S. in the 80s, although only 12% in 2010. (Source: U.S. business startups rate at record low, Reuters, 2012 and The Futurist, September-October 1991, p. 17.)

For more on telecommuting or just working from home, see the Jobs section of relocation.php.

Organization is essential to avoid chaos
Organization is essential to avoid chaos