52 Remote Work Statistics You’ve Got to Know in 2021
Andrew BuckJune 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.
Between 2005 and 2018, WFH had grown 173%, with 5 million US employees working from home half the time or more. [source]
As of December 2020, 41.8% of the American workforce was fully remote [source]
At its highest point, remote work accounted for 69% of US employees. [source]
By 2025, projections say that 36.2 million Americans will work from home. [source]
12.3% of Europeans regularly work from home – lead by Finland, with 25.1% WFH, Luxembourg with 23.1% and Ireland with 21.5%. [source]
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.
90% of remote employees would recommend working remotely to a friend, and 86% believe remote work is the future of work. [source]
76% of entrepreneurs and 74% of professionals believe remote work will become the new normal. [source]
1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work once pandemic restrictions end.. 80% expect to work from home at least 3x per week after COVID, while 23% would take a pay cut of 10% or more, to work from home some of the time. [source]
97% of remote workers would recommend it to others.
For those who went remote due to COVID-19, 96% would like to continue working remotely, at least some of the time during their career.
82% said their transition to remote work was smooth.
59% of remote companies have employees across 2-5 time zones – only 2% have all their staff in the same time zone. [source]
In surveying companies who were not remote prior to COVID-19, 74% said some portion of the workforce will remain remote post-COVID. 48% said they will move 10% or more of their employees to permanent remote positions. [source]
72 of US executives served in this study said they are planning to increase investment in virtual collaboration tools. [source]
76-86% of time spent working in finance and insurance jobs could become remote. [source]
Of leading legal corporations across the globe, 4% said that remote work will be made permanent post-COVID, while a further 3% said they’ll need to see a measured drop in productivity before returning workers to an office environment. [source]
Prior to COVID19, 56% of remote IT workers had been working remotely for less than a year – while 7% had been remote for more than 10 years. [source]
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.
83% of employers say remote work in the US has been successful in 2020 – 71% of employees said the same. 23% of employees said they had mixed results, compared to 11% of employers. [source]
A 2015 study showed that remote workers reported 77% greater productivity, and were 52% less likely to take time off from work. [source]
A 2013 study on remote work by Stanford University showed a 22% increase in performance for employees working from home. [source]
45% of remote workers today say they are working more now than before going remote. 42% said they are working the same amount, and only 13% said less. [source]
68% of organizations worldwide report an increase in productivity in IT and digital departments after switching to remote work. [source]
Workers in the tech industry largely said they were more productive after moving to WFH. 57% said they were more productive after COVID-19 forced them into remote work, while just 17% said they were more productive in the office. [source]
Employees who moved to remote work predominantly say their company is now more effective. [source]
44% say collaboration on new projects is better, with 17% reporting worse.
43% say securing relationships with new customers has improved – 23% report worse.
44% say coaching employees to succeed is better – 20% worse.
41% say innovating new products and services – 18% worse.
38% onboarding new hires – 27% worse.
Deep work is easier away from the office – 76% of people prefer to avoid the office when they have important work to do. [source]
So what do remote workers – and their employers – say are the biggest benefits of going remote?
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.
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.
For 57% of remote workers, flexibility of when or where you work is the biggest benefit of going remote. [source]
Over 50% of remote workers in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia say flexible scheduling is the biggest benefit of WFH. [source]
In the UK and Canada, not having to commute is the 2nd biggest benefit.
43% of Australians say cost savings are a significant advantage.
More than 30% of remote workers say the ability to care for family, pets and aging or sick relatives is the reason they work remotely.
22% of respondents in Australia named reduced office politics as a benefit of remote work.
69% of european remote workers stated that dressing more casually is an important benefit of working from home. [source]
Remote work saves on average 40 minutes’ daily commute [source]
Between March and September 2020, more than 9 billion hours (62.4 million per day) of commuting time was saved by workers going remote. [source]
According to Slack, workers in the US spend an average of 54 minutes each day commuting to work, while for other countries this can be over an hour. [source]
Over 50% of employers who offer remote work say the biggest benefit is increased productivity. [source]
Offices cost $18,400 per year per workspace, while the average cost for a company to provide a remote workspace for employees is $2000 per workspace. [source]
Employers save an average of $11,000 per year by letting one staff member go remote part-time. [source]
In a 2019 survey, 83% of participants said that being able to work remotely some of the time would be the deciding factor between two equal job offers. [source]
Fully remote US companies take 33% less time to hire employees. [source]
Companies in the US that offer remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover rate. [source]
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.
Only 5% of executives believe employees don’t need to be in the office to maintain their company culture. 30% say that their culture could stay strong with staff spending fewer than 3 days in the office. [source]
27% of remote workers say the biggest struggle is not being able to unplug. [source]
Workers also report difficulties with collaboration and communication, loneliness, and distractions at home cause problems.
While remote employees generally say work life balance, productivity and stress and anxiety about work is better when remote, 55% say their sense of belonging is worse without the office. [source]
25% of remote workers say that setting boundaries and balance between work and personal life is the most important advice when selecting a WFH location. [source]
47% of remote employees say managing at-home distractions is a challenge in their work, while 35% say loneliness and isolation is an issue. [source]
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.