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A decade ago, my workday usually started like this:

  • 6 am: Wake up, throw on my shoes, and sprint out the door for a quick run
  • 6:30 am: Shower and breakfast
  • 7:15 am: Climb into the car to begin a 90-minute soul-sucking commute

Most days, I left home energized and excited to get to work. An hour later, I felt like that dude in the opening scene of Office Space — and not the one rapping Coolio. And by the time I got to the office, I’d boiled over to something closer to this:

Office Space scene disgruntled worker

Hello, Work From Home. Goodbye, Hellish Commute.

Then, in November 2009, my wife and I found out she was pregnant with twin girls. We quit our jobs, sold our house in the Boston suburbs, and moved to — of all places — Detroit… smack dab in the middle of the Great Recession. Yep. Couple of real geniuses over here.

In the 10 years since, I’ve never returned to an actual commute. I’ve either worked for myself or sought out roles that allowed me to work from home (also known as “remote” or “telecommuting” — but more on that later).

My motivation might seem obvious, but I’ll lay it out anyway:

  1. I hate traffic — and horrendous traffic isn’t unique to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, or New York anymore. Every major city seems to have serious congestion problems.  
  2. I’m easily distracted — and office environments are often full of distractions. In fact, a Stanford study found that remote employees often deliver productivity gains equivalent to a full day’s work each week.
  3. I’m a married father of two — and flexibility is a required perk for maintaining our family’s sanity and balance. It’s probably why that same Stanford study found employee attrition to be 50% less among remote employees.

And I’m definitely not alone.

In 2017, Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report found that at least 43% of employed Americans spend at least some time working from home. And another survey of global workers found that at least 70% work from home at least one day a week.

And once workers get a taste of remote life, the vast majority don’t want to surrender it. Consider this stat from Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report:

99% of remote workers want to work from home for the rest of their careers

The Problem with Remote Work? It’s Not As Easy to Find Remote Jobs as It Should Be

OK, so let’s recap:

  1. More people are working remote
  2. More companies are empowering their people to work remote
  3. There are a ton of quantifiable benefits for both parties

Now, for the bad news: Finding remote jobs isn’t all that easy — unless you know exactly how each company codifies “remote.”

Some call it “telecommuting.” Some call it “work from home.” Some simply throw in the acronym “WFH” in the job description. And some use the word “remote” — or Anywhere, USA — in the city/state field of the job description.

Why is that an issue? If a job seeker uses the word “telecommute” on a career site or job board that defaults to “remote” or “work from home” nomenclature instead, then that candidate won’t find jobs — even if some version of telecommute jobs do exist.

To prove this out, I recently searched the terms telecommute, remote, work from home, and WFH in Detroit, MI, on a major global job board. Here’s what I found:

  • Remote: 561 jobs
  • Work from home: 143 jobs
  • WFH: 193 jobs
  • Telecommute: 29 jobs

When I dug in a little deeper, I found that many of these jobs offered varying degrees of flexibility — some were completely based out of a home office (Copywriter, Customer Service Rep, etc.) and some simply offered the option to work remote occasionally (Marketing Manager, HR Business Partner, etc.). But for a job seeker simply looking for options, all of them were likely relevant.

Google Cloud Talent Solution Steps in to Bring Intelligent Search to Remote Work

Thankfully, that’s where our friends at Google Cloud Talent Solution come in.

Today, that team announced an improved job search experience that allows employers and job boards to make remote work opportunities in the U.S. more discoverable on their career sites. This functionality supports users who search for jobs with terms like “work from home” or “WFH” and returns the relevant jobs that may be labeled differently as “remote” or “telecommute.” (See above.)

As Talent Solution partners, SmashFly’s thrilled to offer this functionality to our customers — and it’s already available to test on Cox Enterprises’ career site. Now, whether a candidate types in WFH jobs, remote jobs, telecommute sales, or work-from-home marketing, they’ll see all of the different jobs that align with the intent of their search.

That’s not just great news for candidates like me, my wife, and so many of my SmashFly colleagues. It’s also a potential differentiator for employers like Cox, who truly care about offering tangible benefits that improve the lives of the people who make the company tick.

As Google Product Manager Jennifer Su wrote in Google’s announcement: “Working from home can enable parents and caregivers to be more available to their families. It can help retain a high performing employee who regularly relocates as a military spouse. And it can help increase the loyalty of millennial and Generation Z employees who are much likelier to stay in a role for 5+ years if their company is flexible about where and when they work.”

As a husband, dad, little league coach, and recovering sufferer of a 90-minute commute, I couldn’t agree more.

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