There’s no place like home for telecommuters
Austin and Jaci Larrowe sit on their living room couch, each with a laptop, their two miniature golden doodles nestled between them. A candle burns and HGTV is on, muted, in the background.
The environment inside their Old Southwest home is relaxed, cozy. But this isn’t a lazy weekend morning — it’s a work day.
Last year the young couple traded commutes of 45 minutes or more to their jobs in Northern Virginia for the flexibility and comfort of working from home. And since it was no longer important that they be physically present in their offices, they moved to Roanoke.
The Larrowes are among the growing number of Virginians who telecommute, a trend recently analyzed by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
“If Virginians who primarily worked at home were grouped together as an industry, it would easily be Virginia’s fastest growing industry, increasing by 43% since 2010,” according to the analysis.
As of 2018, more than 10,500 people in the Roanoke metro area primarily worked from home, said Hamilton Lombard, a demographer with Weldon Cooper. That number is conservative, as it may not capture telecommuters who use co-working spaces or coffee shops.
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