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Here's How Much Remote Work Has Increased Since 2005

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

It's no secret that a growing number of workers are doing their jobs remotely. In fact, the number of people telecommuting in the U.S. increased 159% between 2005 and 2017, according to data compiled by the American Community Survey by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs.

It's estimated that 3.4% of the total U.S. workforce now consists of remote employees and that 4.7 million American workers telecommute for their jobs. If your company has yet to adopt a remote-work policy, it pays to acknowledge this trend and take steps to be a part of it -- before your business loses out on talent that could otherwise help fuel its growth.

Smiling woman talking on phone while sitting at laptop.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Employees want flexibility

The option to work remotely ties into flexibility, and that's a big driver of worker satisfaction these days. With so many employees struggling to achieve a solid work-life balance, the option to telecommute frees up valuable time for workers who might otherwise struggle to manage all of their job-related and personal obligations.

In fact, the more flexible you are with your employees, the more likely they are to stay on board. And in today's competitive job market, that's a good thing for your business. Furthermore, employees tend to show their appreciation for said flexibility by working harder when they are on the clock.

Being open to telecommuting can also help you attract talent. If you make it clear to prospective hires that you're willing to allow them to work remotely, they could be more inclined to say yes to an offer you make them.

Remote work can benefit employers, too

It's easy to think of remote work as something that's good for employees, but actually, remote-work arrangements are often just as good for the companies that support them. The reason? They often allow employees to be more available.

Take someone who normally commutes to the office by car for 45 minutes each way. That's 90 minutes a day during which that person isn't available to answer emails or log on and troubleshoot problems. But if that same person is given the option to work from home, he or she won't automatically be forced offline during those periods.

Furthermore, being open to remote-work arrangements opens up a larger talent pool when you're looking to fill highly specialized roles. Imagine your ideal hire for an existing position lives 200 miles away from your company's headquarters and isn't interested in relocating. Why should you pass over that candidate because of distance alone when he or she is otherwise your most qualified applicant?

Of course, not all jobs can easily be done remotely, and there is something to be said about bringing colleagues into the office for face-to-face interactions and collaboration. At the same time, it pays to at least consider the idea of hiring workers to telecommute or letting some of your existing staff do the same. Given the ease with which employees can jump ship in today's job market, you can't afford to give them a reason to do so. If you don't embrace the remote-work movement, you risk getting left out in the cold.

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This article was originally published on Fool.com