52 Remote Work Statistics You’ve Got to Know in 2021

Andrew Buck June 24, 2021

Remote work is on the rise in 2021, and has been for some time.

More organizations, from a wider range of sectors, are choosing to ditch the traditional office environment and let their staff choose where they want to work.

We’re seeing a rise of fully remote workplaces, as well as hybrid environments where workers can choose to come into the office or work from home. These aren’t just small businesses – huge companies like Facebook and Shopify are among those offering greater workplace flexibility.

COVID-19 was obviously a catalyst for many companies and workers to be forced into remote work, though remote work has been trending upwards for some time prior to 2020. For those who only went remote during the pandemic, many have made the decision to continue with WFH (work from home) after seeing the benefits, both to companies and employees themselves.

Read on to learn more about remote work, through real and fascinating statistics.

How many people are working from home?

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, two thirds of the US workforce worked remotely. That number has dropped as pandemic restrictions lessened, yet at the end of 2020, 41.8% of employees in the US remained in WFH.

More companies still will transition back to the office as time goes on, yet the overall trend is still in the favor of remote work. As of 2018, 5 million employees worked remotely. By 2025, that number is projected to rise to 36.2 million.

[source – Upwork Future Work Report]

Remote work trends

The overwhelming majority of trends indicate that remote work will increase in the coming years.

These trends have been in place for years – and have been accelerated by the pandemic forcing companies to become remote, and showing workers what kind of lifestyle is possible if they demand flexibility from their employers.

Trends will differ per sector. IT is trending strongly towards remote work, and McKinsey theorizes that 76-86% of time spent in the finance and insurance sector could become remote work. Yet prominent legal corporations seem hesitant to make remote work the norm, with less than 10% considering making jobs remote.

Check out the following remote work statistics that show where the work from home movement is trending.

[source – Buffer State of Remote Work]

How productive are remote workers and remote teams?

Productivity is one of the biggest concerns companies have when deciding whether or not to go remote. How will their staff perform with massively increased freedom, and without the discipline and structure of an office environment?

The statistics indicate quite strongly that productivity actually increases when staff are able to work from home.

IT in particular shows a significant boost in productivity, with 68% of companies reporting IT and digital departments are working at a higher level.

Workers on the whole end up spending more time working, taking less time off when they go remote – the direct opposite of the pessimistic view that staff are going to slack off when not at the office.

These stats are not new. Multiple studies from 5-10 years ago, well before the pandemic, show a marked increase in productivity from remote workers.

Here are some more remote work statistics relating to performance and productivity.

[source – Statista]

Benefits of remote working

So what do remote workers – and their employers – say are the biggest benefits of going remote?

Flexibility

One of the primary remote work benefits for employees is flexibility. Workers love the ability to choose where to work, when to work… and what to wear to work.

No Commute

Commuting is a huge drain on office workers. Not only do you need to come in to the office from 9-5, many spend hours on each side to get there. This adds up greatly. In just 6 months in 2020, more than 9 billion hours were estimated to have been saved by workers not having to commute to the office.

Benefits for Employers

Businesses are also seeing real and valuable benefits from letting staff go remote.

Employers save a lot of money when staff work from home. This can be as much as $16,000 per employee per year, even while footing the bill for equipment for the employee to work from home.

Employers also report higher productivity from remote workers. There’s also a hiring advantage – 83% of people would rather work for a company that offers remote work, when all else is equal.

Read on for more interesting statistics on the benefits of remote work.

[source – Buffer State of Remote Work]

Challenges of remote work

Despite the benefits, and the proven productivity increase from remote workers, there are challenges as well.

It appears more difficult to maintain company culture without the office environment. Some workers also report struggles to find a sense of belonging in their company, when working from home.

A common issue for newly remote workers is being able to unplug – separating work life from personal life, which may lead to decreased productivity and burnout.

Here are what the remote work statistics say on the challenges of going remote.

[source – Buffer State of Remote Work]

Remote Work Statistics and Trends: In Summary

Remote work – is it a passing trend, a simple necessity of pandemic times, or something that’s here to stay?

The statistics on remote work certainly indicate that it will continue to grow in coming years. People love the flexibility of being able to choose when and where they work, and are finding themselves more productive than ever.

Employers love the increased productivity they get from remote employees, and many are finding out about the competitive advantages remote work offers on the hiring scene.

If we can adequately manage and get through the challenges of adapting to remote work, it’s quite clear that this will be the dominant working model by the foreseeable future.

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