Not Everyone Has Equal Opportunity to Work From Home

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL ( – With the Coronavirus presenting new logistical hurdles to keep employees and businesses earning an income, the ability to work from home is more important than it ever has been. However, not everyone has the same opportunities according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that was gleaned from 2017-2018 worker data.

While the ability to telecommute from home is currently critical, less than 30 percent of workers actually do work from home. Additionally, the ability to work from home varies greatly by ethnicity, age, and income.

Only 17 percent of African American workers and 13 percent of Hispanic workers indicated they could work from home. In comparison, 25 percent of Caucasian workers and 31 percent of Asian workers indicated they were able to telecommute.

Education is a key indicator of telecommuting opportunities. Those workers without a high school diploma accounted for only 3 percent of telecommuting workers, while high school graduates totaled 9 percent. Telecommuting workers with at least some college education totaled 19.5 percent. For those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 46.5 percent could work from home.

Parents were more likely than workers without children to work from home. Only 20 percent of single workers worked from home, while 30 percent of parents were able to telecommute.

Those workers who were managers, or in business and financial operations were the most likely to work from home at 51 percent, followed by those in professional careers at 38 percent. Only 2.6 percent of transportation workers, and 3.7 percent of production workers had the ability to telecommute. Predictably, nearly half — 45 percent — of IT workers were able to work from home. Workers in the financial industry accounted for 46 percent of telecommuting workers, and professionals accounted for 47 percent.

Those workers that earned less were also less likely to be able to work from home. Only 6 percent of workers that earned less than the 25th percentile telecommuted for their jobs. Earnings greater than the 75th percentile had a 55 percent telecommute rate.

According to a recent study by AvidXchange, one barrier for businesses to allow their employees to work from home is the ability to process payments. According to the AvidXchange report, only 54 percent of businesses would be able to make payments if employees worked from home. Considering the current reduction in business for most industries, the ability to take and process payments is critical to staying in business.

Cost is another barrier in transitioning to a telecommuting workforce. While most workers may have a computer that they could work on remotely, special security and software is needed for those jobs that involve protected information such as personal health information. This would require purchasing laptops for those employees that usually work at a desk station in the office, as well as purchasing additional programming and systems.

Reliable internet service is another hurdle for those workers who reside in rural areas where cell and satellite coverage is already intermittent, and cable internet is unavailable. While coverage has improved in recent years, there are still many areas where much improvement is needed.

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