by John Egan
When it comes to where its employees work, Raleigh, NC-based software company Red Hat is almost as flexible as a Cirque du Soleil performer.
Red Hat says about one-fourth of its nearly 10,000 employees work from home at least part of the time, including some of its 1,400-member workforce in the Raleigh area. The company doesn’t have a formal work-from-home policy. Rather, each employee -- or “associate,” in Red Hat terminology -- works out work arrangements with his or her manager.
Thanks to its relaxed attitude toward working from home, Red Hat ranks 41st on FlexJobs’ list of the Top 100 Companies for Remote Jobs.
“We’re all about providing the best environment for our associates to do their best work,” a Red Hat spokeswoman says.
Software company Red Hat employs about 1,400 people in the Raleigh, NC, area.
Photo: Precision Walls
For instance, working from home -- either some of the time or all of the time -- lets employees make calls or participate in virtual meetings outside traditional hours, the spokeswoman says. That meshes well with the fact that Red Hat has offices in more than 35 countries.
“For some of our developers and engineers, working from home affords more control over their environment, whether it be turning down the lights or working in a quiet space,” the spokeswoman says. “This type of freedom allows them to get more done in a space that works for them.”
That kind of freedom actually is enjoyed by thousands of workers throughout the Raleigh area. The area ranks No. 1 on LawnStarter’s list of the top metro areas for at-home workers. The ranking is based on U.S. Census Bureau data showing the percentage of workers in a given metro area who work at home. As defined by the Census Bureau, “work at home” refers to a worker who doesn’t make a traditional commute to an office, “meaning their place of work is their home.”
In the Raleigh area, almost 8.6 percent of workers 16 and older were classified as at-home workers in 2015, according to our analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
For this ranking, we looked at the 100 most populous metro areas in the U.S.
Nearly 8.6 percent of workers in the Raleigh, NC, area work at home.
Photo: Flickr/James Willamor
Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs, cites three reasons for the popularity of working from home in the Raleigh area.
The Raleigh area “has a fairly large and growing population, which always seems to lead to traffic congestion and commuting problems. Working from home is a great way for companies to help employees alleviate that stress and lost time.”
Access to high-speed internet service at home is plentiful in the Raleigh area. Last year, 86 percent of households with computers had broadband internet service, the Census Bureau says. That compares with 80.8 percent of all U.S. households.
Top employers in the Raleigh area are in sectors that consistently offer flexibility when it comes to working at home. Those sectors include healthcare, education, banking and government.
Advancements in technology have helped spur telecommuting.
While it’s not as popular on a nationwide basis as it is in Raleigh, telecommuting is on the rise in the U.S.
FlexJobs says the number of telecommuting jobs posted on its website jumped 36 percent from 2014 to 2015, compared with 26 percent in the 2013-14 period. Along those lines, a Gallup poll taken in 2015 found that 33 percent of U.S. workers had telecommuted, up from 30 percent in 2006. And the number of U.S. employers providing the option of telecommuting has grown from 20 percent in 1996 to 60 percent in 2016, according to a report from the Society of Human Resource Management.
At-home workers are able to avoid rush-hour traffic.
Photo: Flickr/Alexandr Trubetskoy
Reynolds says that from the employee’s standpoint, the benefits of working from home are many.
“When they’re able to work from home, people spend less time sitting in traffic and less money on gas, they have more time with their families, they’re less stressed, they avoid office politics, and in many cases they’re actually more productive than when they were in the office,” she says. “For some employees, having a job they can do from home means the difference between working or not working -- including people with disabilities, military spouses, stay-at-home moms and others.”
Employers also reap rewards from work-from-home policies, Reynolds says. They include reduced turnover, better productivity, lower costs for real estate and operations, and higher workforce satisfaction. Furthermore, hiring at-home workers enables businesses to expand into new territories without opening offices there.
The ability to work at home contributes to higher satisfaction among employees.
Photo: Flickr/Jens Bergander
Global Workplace Analytics estimates half of all the jobs in the U.S. can be done remotely at least some of the time. Yet, Reynolds notes, only a little over two-thirds of U.S. workers are punching the clock from home, whether it’s for a few hours a week or the entire workweek.
“So that means there’s still some room for growth,” she says, “and we do expect to see more and more people working from home in the coming years.”
Here’s our ranking of the 16 metro areas where that growth is being witnessed the most, based on the number of workers whose homes double as their full-time offices.
Photo: Flickr/Citrix Systems
Number of workers 16 and over: 633,165
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 54,306
Percentage of at-home workers: 8.577%
Photo: Flickr/Katie Haugland
Number of workers 16 and over: 1,034,605
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 79,566
Percentage of at-home workers: 7.690%
Number of workers 16 and over: 301,655
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 22,384
Percentage of at-home workers: 7.420%
Photo: Flickr/Heath Alseike
Number of workers 16 and over: 1,473,307
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 107,735
Percentage of at-home workers: 7.312%
Number of workers 16 and over: 307,495
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 21,774
Percentage of at-home workers: 7.081%
Photo: Flickr/Joe Wolf
Number of workers 16 and over: 1,585,547
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 109,255
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.891%
Photo: Flickr/John T. Howard
Number of workers 16 and over: 1,336,080
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 89,883
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.727%
Photo: Flickr/Michael Jolley
Number of workers 16 and over: 258,816
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 16,976
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.559%
Photo: Flickr/Lee Cannon
Number of workers 16 and over: 238,952
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 15,319
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.411%
Number of workers 16 and over: 2,707,331
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 173,431
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.406%
Photo: Flickr/Jeff Hintzman
Number of workers 16 and over: 1,170,839
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 74,961
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.402%
Photo: Flickr/Akuppa John Wigham
Number of workers 16 and over: 275,484
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 17,542
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.368%
Photo: Flickr/Andrew Moore
Number of workers 16 and over: 2,300,566
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 139,311
Percentage of at-home workers: 6.056%
Photo: Flickr/Paul Sableman
Number of workers 16 and over: 990,547
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 59,281
Percentage of at-home workers: 5.985%
Photo: Flickr/Jerry Ferguson
Number of workers 16 and over: 2,041,785
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 121,312
Percentage of at-home workers: 5.941%
Photo: Flickr/Jerry Meaden
Number of workers 16 and over: 1,883,130
Number of at-home workers 16 and over: 109,132
Percentage of at-home workers: 5.795%