Imagine rolling out of bed in the morning and, rather than racing to get out the door and into morning traffic, you could go for a run or make yourself breakfast. It’s the kind of daydream every chained-to-his-desk office worker has now and then. And for many, that daydream has become a reality.
Following the Great Recession and the rise of the app-driven gig economy, more and more American workers have found themselves jettisoned from traditional office spaces and thrust into jobs that require them to work remotely, at least some of the time.
A 2016 study from Harvard and Princeton found that the percentage of the U.S. workforce employed in freelance or other “alternative” work arrangements climbed from 10.1% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2015. And a recent Gallup poll found that 43% of employed Americans now work remotely at least some of the time—with nearly one-third of them working remotely four days a week or more.
These momentous shifts in the way Americans work have generated a lot of new research on the health effects of remote jobs and self-employment. The latest evidence shows that so-called “alternative” work arrangements come with both benefits and risks.