Going to the office is fast becoming a thing of the past for a large percentage of the world’s population. Interestingly, the available data indicates working remotely, or outside the office, is becoming the norm in many professions.
A combination of new technology; changing attitudes about work, and labor shortages in some fields is making remote work easier than ever before. Both employers and employees are embracing remote work because of its benefits.
Lower costs, increased efficiency, higher productivity, greater employee satisfaction, higher morale, and reduced stress are just a few of the benefits from remote work. Given those benefits, employers of all shapes and sizes are embracing remote work.
85 Surprising Trends & Statistics in Remote Work
Here are 85 statistics and commentaries that show the popularity of remote work and offer a glimpse of the growing popularity of remote work.
- Working remotely is the new normal for many professionals. For instance, 70% of professionals surveyed by office-service provider IWG in 2018 say they work remotely, CNBC reports. Moreover, 53% of the professionals IWG surveyed claim they work remotely at least once a week.
- The number of people working remotely is rising. Four out of 10 American employees were working remotely in 2016. A Gallup poll found 43% of American employees said they worked remotely, CNBC reports. Additionally, the number of Americans working remotely rose from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016.
- Remote work is one of the fastest-growing areas of the workforce. The number of remote workers in America grew by 140% between 2005 and July 2018, Global Workforce Analytics estimates. Moreover, the number of remote workers grew 10 times faster than traditional employees and the self-employed.
- Employers are more receptive to work from home and telecommuting than ever before. Global Workforce Analytics estimates 40% of American employers offered some remote work opportunities in 2018.
- Finding remote work is still a challenge for many employees. Global Workforce Analytics estimates remote work is not an option for 93% of American employees. Only 7% of the employees it surveyed were offered remote work opportunities.
- Many more people could work remotely if employers gave them the chance. Global Workforce Analytics estimates 50% of American employees hold jobs that they could perform remotely.
- One in four Americans occasionally works remotely. Global Workforce Analytics estimates 20% to 25% of the US workforce telecommutes on a regular basis.
- Most Americans will do remote work if offered the chance. Global Workforce Analytics found 80% to 90% of Americans say they would like to telecommute. Specifically, the average American wants to spend two to three days a week working from home.
- Many more people could be working remotely than the data indicates. Global Workforce Analytics estimates that most Fortune 1000 company employees are only at their desks 40% to 50% of their time. In fact, most employees are gone from their desks at least half the time.
- Remote workers earn quite a bit more than average Americans. Global Workforce Analytics estimates 75% of American remote workers earn over $65,000 a year. In contrast, the median yearly salary for the average American was $47,060 a year in the 1st Quarter of 2019, The Balance estimates.
- However, remote-working professionals could earn slightly less than those who stay in the office. The Balance calculates the average American professional earns $66,820 a year. On the other hand, most remote working professionals earn just $1,820 less than the average American professionals.
- Significantly, most remote workers want to increase the amount of remote work they do. Buffer’s The State of Remote Work 2018 study found 60% of remote workers want to increase the amount of remote work they perform. Moreover, only 34% of remote workers were satisfied with the amount of work they perform.
- Most remote workers are satisfied with their jobs and situations. The State of Remote Work 2018 found 90% of remote workers want to keep working remotely for the rest of their careers. Additionally, 94% of remote workers surveyed said they recommend remote work for others.
- Nearly two-thirds of remote workers work remotely full time. 70% of those surveyed for The State of Remote Work 2018 Report were full-time remote workers. Interestingly, only 30% of remote workers, less than one-third, spent some time in the office.
- A flexible schedule is the most valued benefit of remote work. 43% of remote workers told Buffer they consider flexible schedule the biggest benefit. Also were popular were spending time with the family (15%), the opportunity to travel (12%), and the work environment (11%).
- Remote workers do not hate the office and coworkers as much as commonly believed. Buffer’s the State of Remote Work 2018 survey found only 4% of respondents cited avoiding office politics as a reason for telecommuting.
- Conversely, most remote workers miss their interactions with coworkers. Notably, 21% of The State of Remote Work 2018 respondents cited loneliness as their “biggest struggle.” Additionally, another 21% of respondents admitted that not being able to collaborate or cooperate with other workers was a “big struggle.”
- Motivation is not a problem for 86% of remote workers. The State of Remote Work 2018 states only 14% of remote workers admit having problems staying motivated. Consequently, most remote workers can easily motivate themselves at home.
- Not surprisingly, home is still the most popular office for the world’s remote workers. 78% of The State of Remote Work 2018 respondents listed home as their primary work environment. Other popular workplaces include the office 9% of remote workers still perform most of their labors at the office.
- The popular stereotype of the remote worker sitting in a coffee shop sipping a late at her laptop is a myth. Only 5% of remote workers told The State of Remote Work 2018 pollsters they work in cafes.
- Coworking spaces are not very popular among remote workers. Just 7% of the telecommuters surveyed for The State of Remote 2018 said they used coworking spaces.
- Over eight in 10 remote workers, work while they travel. 81% of the people surveyed for The State of Remote Work 2018 said they worked while they traveled. However, less than 50% of the telecommuters surveyed say they spent more than 4% of their time traveling. Consequently, most remote workers rarely leave home.
- Most remote workers are not freelancers. Instead, The State of Remote Work 2018 found 58% of remote workers were employees of one company. In fact, only 28% of the remote workers surveyed were freelancers. However, 45% of those with regular jobs admitted to freelancing on the side.
- Employers are becoming more receptive to remote work. Upwork’s 2018 Future Workforce report claims 63% of American employers offer some sort of remote work option.
- Some companies are more receptive than others. For example, Dorothy Hisgrove; the Chief People Officer at PwC Australia, claims 82% of her employees occasionally work remotely, The Harvard Business Review reports.
- More people are quitting their jobs because of their inability to work remotely. Flexjobs estimates that 32% of professionals; nearly one third, admit they quit a position because of a “lack of flexibility” in 2017.
- Interestingly, the number of people who quit jobs because of a lack of flexibility is growing. Only 13% of respondents admitted to quitting jobs because of a lack of flexibility in 2013. Thus, the number of people switching jobs for more flexibility grew by 17% in just four years.
- Women are far more receptive to remote work than men. Flexjobs claims that companies with female CEOs were four times more likely to offer remote work opportunities than those with men at the helm.
- Most remote workers work fixed hours. A Talent LMS survey finds that 60% of telecommuters work a fixed scheduled. Thus, many remote employers still follow a standard nine to five shift.
- Remote workers do not think they are getting enough training. 67% of remote workers told Talent LMS they would like to get more training.
- However, most companies do offer training for remote workers. The Irish Tech Times reports 70% of remote workers receive direct training from their employers.
- Telecommuters do want to learn, however. 50% of remote workers take online courses, 22% use their phones to learn and 13% attend webinars, TalentLMS estimates.
- Less than one-third of remote workers have a home office. Just 31% of telecommuters say they own a home office, The Irish Tech Times
- The living room is the second most popular space for working from home. 27% of remote workers say they work from the living room. Other popular locations include the bedroom (16%); the dining room (13%), and the kitchen (10%).
- Oddly, 25% of remote workers; or one fourth, admit they work with the television on. Conversely, another 21% of telecommuters say they prefer to work in complete silence.
- Not welcoming new remote employees into an organization could be a big mistake. Only 20% of those who were not welcomed by supervisors told TalentLMS they were satisfied with their positions. However, 41% of those welcomed onboard claimed to be satisfied.
- Just over half; or 52%, of remote workers say they use communication apps frequently in their work.
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- Skype is the most popular communication app used by 27% of TalentLMS respondents.
- The ten most popular work from home positions in America are accountant, engineer, instructor, writer, consultant, program manager, project manager, customer service representative, business development manager, and account executive, Flexjobs claims.
- There is no set title or name for remote positions. Popular descriptions of the role include; “remote job”, “telecommuting job,” and “virtual job.” Flexjobs
- The top work from home company in the United States is the machine-learning firm Appen, Forbes contributor Alexandra Talty reports. Appen provides high-quality training for machine learning including language services.
- Other top work from home companies in the United States include; Lionbridge, VIPKID, Liveops, Working Solutions, Amazon, TTEC (Teletech), Kelly Services, Concentrix, and UnitedHealthGroup, Talty reveals.
- Well-known companies that offer work from home opportunities include Intuit, Williams-Sonoma, Aetna (now part of CVS Health), Dell, Robert Half International, Hilton, Anthem Inc., SAP, Amgen, ADP, Human, Red Hat, Wells Fargo, Gartner, VMWare, Salesforce, JPMorgan Chase, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Kaplan, Cisco Systems, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Xerox, The Hartford, Phillips, GitHub (now part of Microsoft), General Dynamics, Lenovo, American Express, Johnson & Johnson, and Rackspace.
- A few government agencies are providing work from home opportunities. The US Department of Commerce, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of Washington are on Talty’s list of top 100 remote working organizations.
- Younger managers are more receptive to remote workers. Specifically, 69% of Millennial Managers (those under 38) and 59% of Generation X managers (those under 52) allow remote work on their teams, Yahoo Finance estimates.
- However, the vast majority of managers will accept and support employers who work remotely. Yahoo Finance reports 58% of Baby Boomer (those over 53) managers allow team members to work remotely.
- Working remotely will become the norm within a decade. Gallup predicts 73% of employers, two-thirds, will have some remote employees by 2028.
- The vast majority of people want more remote work and telecommuting opportunities. The Staples Workforce Survey found 90% of employees believe more flexible work arrangements and schedules increase worker morale.
- Many employees now value the opportunity to work flexibly more than their jobs. In fact, 67% of employees told Staples they will consider leaving their job if work arrangements become less flexible.
- Interestingly, most employees could spend over two-thirds of their time away from the office. Workers told Staples they only spend 32% of their time working at the time. Thus, the average worker could reduce her workload by two-thirds and still get just as done. Consequently, the office may not be needed for productivity.
- Younger people are even less likely to spend time at the office. Staples calculates only 27% of American Millennials (those under 38) spend all their work time in a traditional office.
- Incredibly, 62% of Americans could still lack the ability to work remotely. In November 2017, Staples estimated that only 38% of American employees had the ability to work remotely.
- More Americans than ever are seeking alternatives to traditional workspaces. For instance, Staples estimates 6 million American office workers were using co-working spaces in 2017.
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- Interruptions at work are far more costly than you might think. It takes the average officer worker 23 minutes to recover from a minor interruption, The Motley Fool claims.
- Being alone and away from the office could make you far more productive. For instance, The Motley Fool claims employers estimate the average employee loses one to two hours of productivity each day because of coworker distractions. Therefore, allowing working from home and working remotely could make companies more productive.
- Meetings are one of the greatest threats to worker productivity. Specifically, middle managers spent 35% of their time at work in meetings. In addition, the average upper management executive spends 50% of her time in meetings, The Muse claims. Consequently, being away from the office during meetings is one of the biggest benefits of remote work.
- Communication between management and employees is the hardest challenge facing remote and in-the-office workers. Gallup estimates that only 50% of employees know what their managers expect of them. Consequently, many remote workers do not understand what their role in the organization is. Additionally, telecommuters can have a hard time expanding their roles and meeting unfilled needs in the organization.
- Managers need to have frequent conversations will all workers including remote employees for an organization to succeed. Gallup notes: “A flexible culture requires frequent manager conversations about an employee’s short-term and long-term goals.”
- Short-term freelance positions; or gigs, are one of the fastest-growing areas of remote work. Pew Research estimates 24% of Americans made money from the platform economy in 2018.
- Platforms such as Upwork; and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, are becoming one of the most popular ways to find remote work. Pew Research estimates 8% of American adults earned money by doing a job or task they found on an online platform in 2018.
- Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are still among the least popular of remote jobs. Pew Research estimates only 2% of Americans drove for ride-hailing apps in 2018.
- Younger people are more likely to use digital platforms to seek work. Pew estimates that 16% of Americans aged 18 to 29 were using digital platforms to see work or gigs in 2018.
- Higher-income and middle-class people are more likely to seek remote work through platforms. Pew calculates 22% of Americans making over $30,000 a year are more likely to seek work through digital platforms.
- The gig economy is now vital to many Americans’ financial survival. Pew Research finds that 56% of gig economy workers admit gig work is essential, or important, to their financial survival. Moreover, 49% of gig workers admit digital tasks are essential, or important, to their financial survival.
- More full-time workers are doing remote side hustles than is commonly believed. Pew found that 44% of gig economy workers admit they are employed full time. In addition, 34%, of gig economy workers are part-time employees.
- In fact, over two-thirds of gig economy workers have a regular job. Pew found only 32% of gig workers said they were not employed.
- Interestingly, over one-fourth of Americans now view online platforms like Uber and Upwork as their “boss.” In particular, 26% of gig workers tell Pew they consider themselves to be “employees” of gig platforms. However, 68% of gig workers call themselves “independent contractors.” Therefore, many people are confused about their employment status.
- Over half the population could be working remotely by 2028. Statista predicts that 50.9% of the US workforce; or 86.5 million people, could be freelancing in 2028. Thus, over half the population will do gig work in less than 10 years.
- There are now 56.7 million freelancers in the United States Quartz reports. Moreover, the number of freelancers in America grew by 3.7 million between 2013 and 2018, the Freelancers Union and Upwork estimate.
- Freelancers could be better trained than the rest of the workforce; 70% of full-time freelancers participated in online skills training. However, only 49% of full-time employees engage in such training. Thus, freelancers have a serious advantage over those in the office.
- Interestingly, freelancers have a more positive view of learning than full-time workers. In fact, 93% of freelancers tell Upwork they value skills-training and on-the-job education over a college degree. Thus, freelancers could be more willing to learn and easier to train than full-time workers. That could give freelancers an edge over regular employees in finding work in new or growing fields.
- American freelancers are far harder workers than most people give them credit for. In fact, Upwork estimates American freelancers worked 1.07 billion hours a week in 2018, up from 998 million hours a week in 2016.
- More and more remote workers are choosing to go freelance. 61% of freelancers told Upwork they were freelancing by choice in 2018. That number grew from 53% in 2014.
- Like remote workers, freelancers say flexibility is one of their favorite perks. In fact, 42% of freelancers tell Upwork that freelancing “gives them more flexibility than a traditional employer.” Consequently, traditional employers will need to offer more flexibility to lure freelancers back into the fold.
- The amount of work available to freelancers is increasing. Notably, 64% of freelancers told Upwork they found work online in 2018. However, only 42% of freelancers found work online in 2014.
- Consequently, employers will need to make greater efforts to satisfy remote workers to keep them on board. Since remote work is getting easier to find, more and more workers could make the transition to freelancing.
- Conversely, some employers will use the fear of workers going freelance as an excuse to curtail remote working. Some employers could limit remote work by highly skilled, or productive, employees, for instance.
- American business is becoming more reliant on freelancers. In fact, US freelancers put in 1.07 billion hours of work a week in 2018; in contrast to 998 million hours of work a week in 2014, Upwork calculates.
- Getting freelancers to go full time is getting harder. Upwork finds 51% of freelancers admit “no amount of money” will get them to return to a traditional nine-to-five job.
- Freelancing provides a high level of job satisfaction. For instance, 77% of freelancers tell Upwork they have a “better work/life balance” than those working in the office.
- Lifestyle matters most to freelancers. Notably, 84% of full-time freelancers gave lifestyle a higher priority than income, Upwork claims. However, only 64% of traditional workers prioritize lifestyle.
- Freelancers are likely to worry about their future. Particularly, 63% of freelancers tell Upwork they feel anxious about all the time and tasks they have to manage.
- Freelancers are more likely to be engaged in their community and country than full-time workers. Notably, Upwork found 53% of freelancers described themselves as “politically active; “compared to 34% of traditional employees.
- Most freelancers are becoming more optimistic about the future of independent contracting. To elaborate, 77% of freelancers were optimistic about the future of gig work in 2014. That number jumped to 87% in 2018.
- Therefore, it will be harder than ever for employers to get freelancers to sign on as full-time workers at some point in the future. A likely outcome is that many employers will simply stop offering full-time work to contractors.
85 Remote Work Statistics & Trends Summary & Findings
These statistics provide an interesting glimpse of the future of work and business everybody needs to consider. In fact, we can make a few generalizations about the workplace of the future with the data presented.
First, the workplace of the future is not likely to be an office or physical building. Instead, many more people will work remotely; or digitally, and never see their coworkers or employers.
Second, under those circumstances, more and more organizations will forgo the expense of building brick and mortar offices and have everybody working remotely. Third, some employers will require remote work because it is cheaper and more productive.
Fourth, the distinctions between freelancers and full-time employers will disappear. Some organizations could offer freelancers the same benefits as full-time employees to retain their services. For instance, offering freelancers health insurance or paid vacations. In addition, many organizations will offer all workers the possibility to go freelance.
The main lesson we can learn from the data is that everybody needs to learn to work remotely. The statistics show that remote work is the future of employment, so everybody needs to get used to it.
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