Remote Work Statistics: 9 Stats That Show Telecommuting is the Future
Over the past decade, new collaborative tools and technologies have changed the way we think about remote work. The world was already embracing this change going into 2020, with companies offering "work from home" days, co-working spaces are popping up everywhere, workers are fleeing tech hubs like SF and fueling a job renaissance in other U.S. cities, “digital nomads” travelling the world and working from wherever there's an internet connection.
But, the trend towards remote work was turbocharged overnight in March 2020 with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, remote work wasn’t just a nice option for some workers, but a necessity for all. Big tech companies in the United States like Facebook, Apple, and Twitter have indicated that work-from-home is here to stay, and that much of their workforce won’t be returning to the office anytime soon.
So, now that remote work is all the rage, we thought it’d be a great time to take a deep dive into the statistics on remote working. How many people are working remotely? How does remote work affect their productivity? Or their earnings? And do people actually like remote working anyway?
We answer all these questions and more.
3 statistics on the remote work job market
Sure, it’s easy to think of reasons why professionals would dream about working from home. The schedule flexibility, the ability to live in a low-cost city, the fact that they could spend more time with their family. But what do the actual numbers say about what remote work means for employees? Here are three important statistics.
1. Remote work positions are on the rise
While demand for remote jobs is certainly growing, so is the supply. The Remote Work Statistics for 2019 report by FlexJobs showed that from 2016 to 2017 remote work grew a whopping 7.9%. Over the last five years, the remote workforce has grown 44% and over the previous 10 years, 91%. That’s a pretty big growth trend. Not all of these jobs are fully remote, but 69% of companies surveyed by Miro have at least one team member working remotely full-time (and most have many more working remotely part-time).
Remote work is clearly growing
2. Remote workers feel better
In 2016, Phyllis Moen and Erin L. Kelly (from the University of Minnesota and MIT, respectively) studied Fortune 500 companies’ employees who tested letting employees have a flexible schedule and work remotely. The remote group reported “higher levels of job satisfaction and reduced levels of burnout and psychological stress” than non-remote employees.
Remote workers in the study were also offered the opportunity to reduce the number of daily meetings and communicate more via chat, which resulted in their ability to better anticipate periods of high demand, and feel more in control of their lives and in tune with their families.
“Today’s workers are bombarded by advice on how to juggle their work and family lives. Our study makes clear that organizational initiatives, including programs that promote greater flexibility and control for workers as well as greater supervisor support, are needed.”
—Phyllis Moen, the McKnight Endowed Presidential Chair in Sociology at the University of Minnesota
3. Remote workers make more money
A report by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics shows that most remote workers have a higher salary than those who work from office; the average annual income for most remote workers is $4,000 higher than that of non-remote workers, the study says. FlexJobs also estimates that remote workers save more—around $4,000 a year. Other reports suggest that the annual savings average is closer to $7,000.
3 statistics on what remote work means for employers
We’ve established that both remote work demand and supply is growing rapidly, and that there are clear benefits for remote employees. But what does all of this mean for employers? Here are three remote work stats you should know about from a company standpoint.
1. Remote workers are more engaged
According to the latest Gallup State of the American Workplace report, engagement levels increase for remote workers, so remote team management is less of a challenge. Gallup’s study shows that remote workers are slightly more engaged (32%) than office workers (28%).
An additional insight: despite all the obstacles, most remote workers have a stronger sense of belonging than their colleagues who work on-site. The study says that regardless of the fact that remote workers often communicate with their teams only over the internet, they feel like their “opinions seem to count.”
2. Remote work increases job satisfaction & retention
According to data from Owl Labs’ 2019 State of Remote Work report, ”remote workers say they are likely to stay in their current job for the next five years 13% more than onsite workers.” This may seem like a small difference but at scale, eliminating churn by transitioning to remote work can help a company save a lot of money and resources.
It’s also telling that once employees have the remote work option, they see that as an important perk. Owl Labs stats show that 55% of remote workers would likely look for another job if they were no longer allowed to work remotely, and 61% of them would expect a pay raise if this kind of change happens.
3. Most remote workers take 2-3 weeks of vacation per year
According to the 2019 State of Remote Work survey by Buffer, 32% of remote workers get an unlimited vacation. However, the majority of them only take two or three weeks off each year. Most likely, this has to do with the flexibility of remote works. When people have more control over their schedules, they feel less stressed and don’t need as much time off as if they worked at the office.
Nearly one-third of remote workers get unlimited vacation, Buffer found.
Remote workers also get a chance to combine traveling and work. According to Buffer, “44% of remote workers travel while working between one week and one month per year, and 25% of respondents do this work/travel combination more than one month of the year.”
3 stats on remote work productivity
Increased productivity is a win for everyone involved, from the employee themselves to the company they work for. There are multiple studies that have now disproved any myths that remote workers are less productive than their in-office counterparts. Here are three important stats to consider.
1. Remote work may be the key to increased productivity
A 2012 Stanford study showed that flexibility of remote work may be the key to increased productivity. Stanford economics professor Nick Bloom analyzed the performance of people working for CTrip.com, a billion-dollar NASDAQ-listed company based in Shanghai.
He and his colleagues compared the efficiency of those who worked remotely for four days a week and those who worked from the office. The study showed that transitioning to remote work increased performance by 13%: the researchers attributed 9% of this increase to remote workers taking shorter breaks, and 4% of the increase to a less distracting work environment for remote workers. They also stayed with the company longer and reported a higher level of happiness than their non-remote counterparts.
2. Remote workers have better focus
In the recent two decades after the era of cubicles ended, thousands of organizations from all over the world embraced an open office space layout. Especially in Silicon Valley, most of the tech companies’ HQs have this layout, as their senior management stresses the importance of collaboration and a free flow of ideas.
A team of researchers found that, in fact, this work environment affects employees’ concentration. From 2008 to 2014, the number of employees who say they can’t concentrate at their desk has increased by 16%, and the number of employees who can’t access quiet places to do focused work is up by 13%. Also, the number of people who are worried about their privacy in the workplace increased by 74% over a ten-year period.
3. Remote workers work longer hours but feel better
According to data from Owl Labs’ 2019 State of Remote Work report, remote workers say they work more than 40 hours per week, 43% more than on-site workers do. However, the two groups overwork for different reasons. People who work from office stay longer because it’s their management’s requirement, while remote workers often choose longer hours because they like what they do.
What these statistics say about the future of remote work
If remote work had a customer satisfaction score, it would be sky-high. As the remote work trend has grown, people generally report the benefits of flexible schedules, work/life balance, and productivity improvements. Remote work is also poised to become the norm for millennials and Gen Z: someday soon, the office may be the strange, foreign mode of work, and the young professionals may all be telecommuters. Finally, results from various surveys confirm: those who’ve gone remote aren’t looking back, and remote work is here to stay.
Remote work statistics FAQ
What percentage of employees work remotely?
A Gallup poll conducted from March-April found that 57% of workers have been offered remote work options by their employers, and that 62% of employed Americans have worked from home during the crisis.
Is working from home good?
Studies like the Owl Labs’ 2019 State of Remote Work report have found that most remote workers are more satisfied and more likely to stay with their company than non-remote workers.
What are the disadvantages of working from home?
Remote work brings its own challenges: collaboration and communication can be more difficult, team members can feel isolated or forgotten, and many people face more distractions at home than they would at the workplace (especially workers with families and kids).
Are people more productive working from home?
According to a 2012 Stanford study, yes! The study found that remote workers logged more hours of work than their non-remote counterparts.