U.S. Markets closed

Why Americans are working from home more than ever before

Forget the uncomfortable work clothes, forget annoying coworkers, forget lengthy in-person meetings. As the lines between work life and personal life get more blurred, workers are staying at home.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of full-time or part-time workers who do some or all of their work from home grew from 19% in 2003 to 24% in 2015.

Dan Schawbel, founder of the web site WorkplaceTrends, has been working from his home in New York for five years. A self-proclaimed introvert, he says he works best alone, away from frequent interruptions and distractions at an open office. “I feel like I have more control over my day when I work from home,” says Schawbel.

That preference is one that is shared by many. In fact, Schawbel says that flexibility at work is one of the top three benefits employees now demand. A WorkplaceTrends report finds that last year, 75% of employees ranked workplace flexibility as their top benefit, while 45% of employees felt they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities.

This gripe may be a response to increasingly demanding workplaces, where managers expect employees to be reachable by email or phone outside of office hours. The same WorkplaceTrends report finds that 65% of employees say their manager expects them to be available outside of the office. Schawbel finds that the average work week is now 47 hours for full-time permanent employees, and 43 hours even for part-timers.

In other words: There is no 9-to-5 anymore.

Another influence behind this new trend is cultural. Experts say millennials, who recently surpassed Baby Boomers to become the largest group in the U.S. workforce, expect working conditions to be catered to individual preference.

“This trend is likely to continue to accelerate as Baby Boomers transition towards retirement but don’t fully retire, and millennials move up in the workforce and bring their work style preferences with them,” says Jason Dorsey, co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics.

Big companies like Aetna, Dell and Wells Fargo are among a ranking of the top 100 employers that offer the most work-from-home flexibility.

“Hiring people who work from home can extend your talent pool to help the best candidates, regardless of geography,” says Brian Reynolds, Director of Online Content at FlexJob, an online job service. “Also, if the business relies heavily on customer service and sales, being able to hire people in different time zones helps you to provide more customer service coverage, or extend your sales territory without having to rent or build office space.”

As the trend continues, expect more companies to hop on board and offer more make work-from-home flexibility, not less.

Minyoung Park is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.

Read more:

America’s brick-and-mortar banks are vanishing

The No. 1 hiring challenge cited by US small business owners

The profound business implications of that viral Chewbacca mask video