Over 6 million Americans work from home, saving $15 billion every year in gasoline and train fare alone. Not only can telecommuting workers expect to save about $2,500 every year in gas and transportation costs, they can also save time. On average, people spend 90 minutes a day commuting to and from their jobs; home-based workers can realistically expect that they will have 7.5 hours of extra time to spend every week, or 375 hours every year.
Two-thirds of skilled workers report that they are productive at home, and their companies have largely drawn the same conclusion. A majority of companies allow “telework,” and the percentage of Americans who work from home has grown from roughly 3% to more than 4.5%. Recent studies also indicate that legal and medical sectors are increasingly allowing their employees and contractors to work from home, citing a decline in absenteeism and a rise in employee retention.
Commensurate with the rise of a home-based, often highly-skilled labor pool is the rise of the virtual office. Although some telecommuters prefer to work in public places, libraries and cafes tend to lack the professional polish required for an in-person client meeting. Virtual office packages offer entrepreneurs and telecommuters scheduled access to office space — and often to administrative and mail services — for an agreed-upon fee.
Another draw for home-based creative professionals and entrepreneurs is the fact that virtual office providers typically allow and encourage the use of their building’s address for advertising purposes. There an understandable reluctance on the part of many home-based workers to publish their home addresses, and new businesses may benefit financially from the prestige bestowed by a long-established business address.
Virtual office providers realize that different office solutions may be required for the legal profession than the health care field, but flexible packages may help fledgling business thrive. With commercial vacancy rates at their lowest in several years, finding alternatives to traditional office rental models may be both practical and necessary for skilled professionals who work from home.