Because of the current pandemic, companies of all sizes have made a rather quick transition to remote working. But there are still many unanswered questions. Will this be a passing trend? Or will we continue to depend on home offices in the future? Is the traditional office really going to become obsolete? Is minimalism within home offices the way to go?
If you told me at the beginning of 2021 that we’d have to make this shift toward working remotely so suddenly, I would’ve found it hard to believe. But remote work is happening, and it’s happening sooner than we thought.
Luckily, due to the advancement in technology, remote working has become seamless for many workers across various industries. Working remotely gives people the chance to get work done when they are most productive.
But a lot of companies still feel that remote working isn’t for them. This could be because we spent the past century learning how to work out of an office, or because the nature of their work doesn’t allow them to work from remote locations.
When transitioning to working remotely, working style, communication, and management will be affected. We’ll have to adapt our working style to match our remote needs.
And there’s so much that we still need to learn about remote working. Understanding our challenges can help us make the best out of this situation by knowing what we’re in for.
To understand the situation better, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 remote working statistics that will help to shed some light on the past, present, and future of working remotely.
- 1. How Many People Work Remotely?
- 2. Employees Like Working From Home
- 3. Trends in Remote Work Growth
- 4. Biggest Benefit of Working Remotely
- 5. Remote Workers Are Happier
- 6. Remote Workers Feel More Productive
- 7. What Is the Biggest Challenge When Working Remotely?
- 8. State of Remote Work in the U.S.
- 9. Why Do Organizations Offer Remote Work?
- 10. Future of Remote Work
- Conclusion: Remote Work Statistics
- Summary: Top 10 Remote Work Statistics in 2021
- Want to Learn More?
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1. How Many People Work Remotely?
Even before the pandemic struck, remote working was seeing an increase in popularity. Currently, 4.7 million people in the U.S. work remotely, up from 3.9 million in 2015 (Flexjobs, 2019).
Remote work has been growing steadily across different industries over the years. Companies in different sectors, such as private, public, non-profit, and startups have all been easing into the idea of remote working. And for others, remote working isn’t a new concept.
If you feel like you know more and more people who work remotely, you’re probably right. With the growing trend of remote working, companies increasingly continue to offer possibilities to their employees for flexibility. And with rising concerns over COVID-19, many companies have had no choice but to address the matter at hand, and opt for remote working. Either way, working remotely seems like it’s here to stay.
2. What Percentage of Teams Are Currently Working From Home?
And stay it certainly has.
One year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that forced offices to close and employees to work remotely, the majority of US workers continue to do so at least part of the time.
Remote work statistics from a recent survey showed that more than half of the US workforce, or 56.8 percent to be exact, are working remotely at least part of the time (Upwork, 2020).
Of them, 41.8 percent are fully remote, which marks a 5.9 percent fall from a similar survey conducted at the height of the outbreak in April 2020. Meanwhile, just 15.8 percent of the group continue to work remotely just partially, balancing both working from home and on-site.
In general, it appears many teams have gotten accustomed to remote working and are starting to see and enjoy its benefits. As many as 68 percent of hiring managers report having much smoother workflow, communication, and over remote working experience now than when the pandemic started.
3. Trends in Remote Work Growth
The amount of people working remotely in the U.S. has seen a major upward trend. Over the last five years, remote work has grown by 44 percent (Flexjobs, 2019). From 2016 to 2017, remote work grew by 7.9 percent. And over the last 10 years remote work has seen a 91 percent increase.
With the global work-from-home movement due to the COVID-19 crisis, the question remains whether working remotely will continue to surge after the pandemic is over. There are varying opinions over this matter: some people think that the global pandemic could cause a permanent shift towards home working, whereas others think that people might want to fulfill their need for human contact in the office.
It could also be the case that the longer people are required to work from home, the more likely they are to become accustomed to it. Based on historical data and these statistics, we are leaning towards believing that remote working will continue to grow in the coming years.
The current situation will also be an eye-opener for many in managerial or executive roles, with reduced fear and an increase in trust for remote working.
4. Biggest Benefit of Working Remotely
We’ve covered that remote working seems to be here to stay. But what is it about remote working that people seem to like so much?
Remote working may have a list of benefits, but one that people seemed to agree most commonly on was the flexibility that it allows. Research shows that 40 percent of respondents said the biggest benefit of working remotely is a flexible schedule (Buffer, 2019). This was followed by 30 percent of respondents listing flexible location as the next biggest benefit of remote working. Other important factors included more time to spend with family, and the benefit of working from home.
Remote working is becoming one of the most sought-after benefits an employer can offer. The flexibility to work from wherever you want offers employees the freedom to pick and choose their work environment. On top of that, they can also choose how they want to work, their atmosphere, music, and so much more.
Having a flexible schedule allows people to have better control over their work-life balance. It allows them the freedom to schedule their work, hobbies, and spare time that they want to spend with their family or friends. The option to work remotely gives people more time to do things that they would want to include into their daily lives. This could be activities like going for an early morning jog, taking their dog for a stroll, going to the gym, or simply going to get groceries in the middle of the day.
Employees may also feel less pressure to wake up at a certain time to commute to work, in order to avoid traffic hours. For a lot of people, spending time daily on the road, stuck in traffic, is a huge matter of concern. Giving employees the freedom to work from home can empower them to improve their lifestyle and reduce stress. But more on that later.
5. The Future of Remote Work
With more and more businesses adapting to remote working and reaping its benefits, numbers suggest a surge in this arrangement even in the post-coronavirus era.
As it stands, managers believe that 26.7 percent of the workforce will continue to remain fully remote in 2021 (Upwork, 2020). That means that even as offices begin to open up again and employees are allowed to return to their workplaces, a significant proportion of them will continue to work from home.
In fact, the sentiment for remote working remains high even in the years to come. Managers expect up to 22.9 percent of the workforce to be fully remote in 2025. That’s nearly two times the 12.3 percent that was doing so even before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Here’s a breakdown of those numbers. As of February 2020, 19.5 million people were estimated to be working remotely 100 percent of the time. By 2025, this number is expected to grow to 36.2 million—16.7 million more in just five years.
If such growth continues, it would only be a matter of time before remote working becomes the default working arrangement for the American workforce.
6. Remote Workers Feel More Productive
There’s more good news for companies. Remote workers don’t just feel happier—they also feel more productive. Research conducted shows that 65 percent of respondents are more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace (Flexjobs, 2019). Additionally, 85 percent of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their company because of greater flexibility.
In the past, remote workers have not always been accepted. Employers tend to believe that their teams would be easily distracted at home, and won’t manage to get work done. Feelings of mistrust might also discourage companies from allowing remote working. Managers feel like they need to keep an eye on their workforce to ensure that work is getting done. But people aren’t always the most productive when they are at the office.
There are many reasons that come to mind when thinking about why employees feel more productive at home. To start with, there is a better control over the work environment for employees. This means that they can set their work up according to their own needs and comfort. This can include where they work from, lighting, music, and even home-prepared meals. For some employees, a quiet environment with fewer distractions can help them concentrate and be more productive. For others, less stress attached to daily commute and fewer office politics can improve their focus and productivity.
At the end of the day, more control over how employees work has been seen to benefit both employees and organizations.
7. How Many People Want To Continue To Remote Work?
Given the convenience and increase in productivity (among other benefits), it’s no wonder that the majority of remote workers would like this arrangement to be permanent.
According to a poll by Gallup, more than half of US employees (53 percent) who are working remotely would like to continue doing so even in a post-COVID-19 world (Gallup, 2020).
As companies settle in and get comfy with this new norm, some are starting to see the benefits it offers. Companies like Twitter, Square, Microsoft, and Shopify have even announced that their staff can continue to remote work indefinitely.
It is worthy to note, however, that this statistic marks a fall from the 62 percent of remote workers who said they wanted to continue working from home just three weeks prior.
The poll also shows that preference to continue working from home varies greatly from industry to industry. Workers who enjoy this arrangement tend to be in sectors like technology, finance, insurance, and arts. Those in education, retail, and construction, however, aren’t quite as happy with it.
8. State of Remote Work in the U.S.
Last year’s report found that only 18 percent of workers around the world worked remotely full-time. In comparison, in the US, remote workers work remotely full-time 66 percent more often than the global average (Owllabs, 2019).
From what it seems, remote working in the U.S. is gaining popularity faster than in other parts of the world. In some places, remote working is still a new concept, and they are yet to become familiar with the ins and outs of working remotely. Many companies still prefer the traditional methods of working from an office, and holding meetings in person.
If you divide it by region, South America has more companies that allow a fully remote experience in comparison to other parts of the world. For freelancers, the highest opportunities seem to be available in Australia and Africa. In comparison, if you take a look at Europe, there are less people who want to switch to remote work.
It’s also important to note that remote working would be easier for some industries in comparison to others. For tech companies, it might be easier to jump on a call and assist teams remotely, but maybe for some startups it’s not that simple. With larger organizations that have teams split across different countries or even continents, it might make no difference as to whether they decide to go to a physical office or stay at home. On the other hand, companies that offer in-person assistance to their employees or prospects might find the change to remote working close to impossible to achieve.
9. US Employers’ Savings During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Aside from the increased productivity from employees, there’s also a financial incentive for employers to allow remote working.
US employers are expected to save at least $30 billion a day for permitting their employees to work from home—quite a substantial amount of savings (Legal Job Site, 2020).
With no need for a larger office space, companies can downsize for the time being (or permanently, if remote working is being offered indefinitely). This can help to lower costs such as rent, utility bills, and even cleaning services.
This will total quite a large sum, especially for larger companies. In fact, Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems, which has been allowing its workers to work from home for over a decade, says they save up to $68 million a year in its real estate costs.
Companies providing commuting allowances to their employees can also save on these costs, as well as any cost of running a cafeteria or offering office drinks and snacks.
10. Future of Remote Work
Remote work seems to be a win-win option for employees and companies alike, but what does the future hold for remote workers? Research shows that two-thirds of knowledge workers think that offices will disappear by 2030 (Zapier, 2019).
With the current pandemic, companies of all sizes have made a rather quick transition to home offices. But the question still stands—are companies and people prepared to work remotely? Will this be a passing trend, or will we continue to depend on offices and workplaces in the future?
Keeping the current COVID-19 crisis in mind, it’s understandable why a lot of companies are asking their employees to work from home. But the question is whether this will last: Exactly how prepared are employers and employees to work from home? And more importantly, will it be possible for most companies to carry out everyday tasks in a remote manner?
Industries such as media and tech are more flexible when it comes to remote working. The real challenge is faced by traditional industries, or those companies that require high levels of coordination within the team, as it will be hard for them to become completely remote.
With companies increasingly offering their employees the possibility for flexibility in their work location and remote work, it’s easy to see how physical offices might become obsolete in the near future. Whatever the reason may be, it seems like remote working is here to stay. And it seems like that’s a good thing for everyone.
Conclusion: Remote Work Statistics
As the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, millions of employees have turned to working from home. One thing is clear—remote working is becoming more common everywhere. Companies of all sizes are experiencing implementing remote working for their employees.
With the sudden and unexpected transition to remote working, we still ask ourselves the same questions. Are companies prepared for remote working? Are they offering their employees the right tools to set up their remote workplace? Are employees comfortable working from home?
Remote working is an untapped opportunity for organizations. In these testing times, companies and employees should try their best to figure out what works best for them together. Companies need to take the first step forward and offer their employees the right tools, establish the right process, and provide the necessary support that can elevate the corporate culture. The COVID-19 outbreak is a great chance for companies to re-evaluate their working style and how they could optimize the remote working experience for times to come.
Summary: Top 10 Remote Work Statistics
- Remote working has seen an increase in popularity over the last decade. Around 4.7 million people in the U.S. currently work remotely, up from 3.9 million in 2015.
- 56.8 percent of the American workforce is working remotely at least part of the time. (Upwork, 2020)
- The amount of people working remotely in the U.S. has seen a major upward trend. Over the last five years, remote work has grown by 44 percent.
- The biggest benefit of working remotely for people is a flexible schedule.
- Managers expect 26.7 percent of US employees to be fully remote in 2021. (Upwork, 2020)
- Remote workers are more productive, with 65 percent of respondents saying they are more productive in their home office than at a traditional workplace.
- 53% of US employees currently working remotely would like to continue doing so even after COVID-19.
- Remote working is more popular in the U.S. Only 18 percent of workers around the world work remotely full-time. In comparison, in the U.S., remote workers work remotely full-time 66 percent more often than the global average.
- US companies can save $30 billion a day by allowing their employees to remote work.
- Research shows that two-thirds of knowledge workers think that offices will disappear by 2030.
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