A growing number of millennials want to work remotely and, fortunately for them, 170 companies in the U.S. operate 100 percent virtually these days. That number is up from 26 in 2014, according to FlexJobs, an online platform specializing in remote and flexible employment.
FlexJobs reports that the ability to work remotely, even part time, helps employees achieve a better work-life balance, and it therefore improves their overall health and wellness. It can also help workers save up to $4,000 a year with reduced spending on gas, parking, public transportation and dry-cleaning. Perhaps that's why, according to Gallup's "State of the American Workplace" survey, more than one-third of the respondents said they would change jobs in order to be able to work remotelysome of the time.
And telelcommuting doesn't only benefit the workers; companies can reap rewards from it, too. Offering remote opportunities allows companies to work with top talent, regardless of location. And because those employees are likely to be happier in their jobs, it also leads to greater productivity, better performance and higher employee retention rates. Likewise, it of course saves companies money in office expenses like equipment, amenities and more — plus rent and utilities if they choose to forgo an office altogether.
Technology is fueling the growth of fully virtual companies — tools such as Slack, Zoom, Dropbox and Quip, a document-sharing and editing platform, make it easier than ever to communicate with employees based anywhere and track their performance and workflow more accurately. Plus, according to Forbes, millennials, who are already very used to being connected online, are projected to be the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2020.
Trina Hoefling, author of Working Virtually: Transforming the Mobile Workplace, told CNBC: "Technology is the enabler, so people starting businesses are realizing that they can launch a company without a physical location quite easily."
So what are some of these companies that are already fully remote?
Toptal scouts the best freelance engineers and designers from anywhere in the world and vets their qualifications using a mix of proprietary software and online interviews. The company has grown to more than 400 core employees working in 60 different countries.
Automattic is the team behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, Simplenote, Longreads, VaultPress, Akismet, Gravatar, Polldaddy, Cloudup and more. It's a totally distributed company with 704 automatticians in 62 countries speaking 80 different languages. It makes sense that they're so expansive, given how necessary these sites are globally.
AnswerConnect is a live call answering service. Whether companies need call handling services after hours or all the time, AnswerConnect has a plan to fit any situation because it doesn't have a call center; rather, its employees all do their work from the comfort of their own homes.
InVision is a digital product design platform powering the world’s best user experiences. The company works with everything from Twitter to Vice to Netflix, so its success from work-from-home employees is obvious.
This web design and development consulting service describes its 120+ person team as "one big happy family" that just so happens to be distributed worldwide and stays connected with Slack, Google Hangout, and text.
Buffer is a fully distributed team of more than 80 employees working in several different countries (see this employee timezones map!). The company's social media management tools are used by over 60,000 paying customers around the world.
Ghost is a blogging platform behind the publishing efforts of organizations like NASA, Square and Graze. It's open source, free and customizable — and created almost entirely by volunteers from the non-profit Ghost Foundation, which runs and organizes Ghost. The team of developers and other staff work online from all corners of the internet.
This time-tracking tool is used by over 8,000 remote teams to track time and help with automatic payroll processing and attendance scheduling. The company was founded in 2012 by two entrepreneurs who wanted a better way to manage remote freelancers, so it makes sense that it's built by a totally remote team, too.
Doist is the team behind Todoist, a popular productivity app that helps millions of people manage their tasks and projects. The company has been around since 2007, and its team members are spread across 20 different countries.
Knack is a cloud-based database tool with over 3,000 customers (like Harvard University and Tesla) that makes it easy for anyone to manage, share and utilize their data. Most use Knack for creating things like inventory managers and customer portals. The team behind is calls the internet its headquarters, but they still get together twice a year at retreats.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.