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The recent coronavirus disease outbreak has caused a huge part of the workforce to participate in what Bloomberg dubbed the world's largest work-from-home experiment. Now, while COVID-19 won’t stay with us for good in the long run, remote work will.
The time of the pandemic will surely reshape the way in which some organizations approach flexible work arrangements. But the truth is, work from home isn’t a recent phenomenon. In this article, we’ve collected a number of remote work statistics to show you the magnitude, development, as well as the pros and cons of remote work.
Remote Work Statistics—The Big Picture
Remote work statistics reveal that about 23.7% of the US population work from home for at least some time. The number of full-time remote workers is nearing 5 million, which is about 3.5% of the population. On top of that, 99% of people say they’d like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.
The telecommuting statistics we’ve gathered here illustrate the overall size of the remote workforce:
The number of companies offering remote work arrangements tripled between 1996 and 2016. (SHRM)
5 million employees (i.e. 3.6% of the US workforce) currently work from home half-time or more. (Global Workplace Analytics)
56% of employees have a job in which at least some of the tasks could be done remotely. (Global Workplace Analytics)
From 2016 to 2017, remote work grew by 7.9%. Over the last five years, it grew by 44% and over the previous decade, it grew by 91%. (Flex Jobs)
In 2015, 3.9 million US workers were working remotely. Today that number is at 4.7 million, or 3.4% of the population. (Flex Jobs)
69% of employers offer remote work on an ad hoc basis to at least some employees, 42% offer it part-time, and 27% offer it full time. (SHRM)
61% of remote workers would expect a pay rise if they were no longer allowed to work from home. (Owl Labs)
38% of remote workers had no training on how to organize their remote work. 62% of remote workers received some or quite a bit of training on how to organize their remote work. (Owl Labs)
74% of employees believe that flexible working has become the new normal. In the past ten years, 83% of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy, or are planning to adopt one. (IWG)
42% of people who are full-time remote say they have been working remotely for over 5 years. 28% admit they have been working remotely for 3 to 5 years. 19% state they have been working remotely for 1 to 2 years. And 11% declare they have been working remotely for less than a year. (FYI)
73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. (Upwork)
29% of all the startups with roles posted on AngelList in August 2019 were hiring remote roles. That’s over 7,600 startups hiring for remote roles more than 1,500 of which are mostly or fully remote companies themselves. (AngelList)
The US Census data reveals that 5.2% of US workers worked entirely from home in 2017. That’s about 8 million people. (Quartz)
82% of workers want to work from home at least one day a week. 57% want to work from home at least three days a week. (LinkedIn)
In 2018, 23.7% of the US population worked at home for at least some hours. (BLS)
61% of employees have left or considered leaving a job because it did not have work flexibility. (FlexJobs)
90% of remote workers plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers. (Buffer)
78% of remote workers mostly work from home, 9% from an office, 7% from a coworking space, 5% from a café and 1% work from other locations. (Buffer)
By 2020, companies promoting a choose-your-own-work-style culture will increase employee retention rates by over 10%. (Gartner)
40% of people say in their companies part of the team is full-time remote and part works out of the same office. 31% state that everyone works remotely in their companies. (Buffer)
29% of employees go as far as to say they'd quit if they had to come back to the office once the pandemic is over. (LiveCareer)
Working From Home Productivity Statistics
One of the things companies that hire remote workers are worried about is whether or not the remote employees will be engaged and productive enough. The work from home statistics we grouped below shed light on these exact issues:
Remote workers admit to working over 40 hours a week 43% more than on-site workers do. On-site workers work longer weeks because it's required of them, and remote workers do so since they enjoy their work. (Owl Labs)
75% of employees say they are more productive working remotely because of fewer distractions. (FlexJobs)
Those who work remotely full-time admit they're happy in their job 22% more than those who don’t work remotely at all. (Owl Labs)
65% of employees admit their productivity would increase if they worked from a home office rather than an office space. (FlexJobs)
In 2019, 78% of employees cited flexible schedules and telecommuting as the most effective nonmonetary ways to retain employees, up from 67% in 2018. (Crain’s)
90% of employees say that allowing for more flexible work arrangements and schedules will increase employee morale. 67% say they would consider leaving their job if their work arrangements became less flexible. (Staples)
77% of Millennials state that flexible work arrangements would boost their productivity. (Regus)
Almost 2 out of 3 employees state they’re more productive working remotely than they were when they worked at the company office. (SHRM)
About 83% of people say that the office isn’t necessary for them to be productive. (Fuze)
About 86% of employees like to work alone for maximum productivity. (SurePayroll)
15% of remote workers admit that their boss distracted them from work. Among office-based workers, 22% said the same thing was true. (AirTasker)
Changing a Job—Remote Workers Statistics
Change is a natural part of anybody’s work life. The question is: How telecommuting trends are affecting career choices of modern day job seekers? In short, it turns out that offering flexible work arrangements can be a good way for companies to keep their employees for longer.
About 51% of workers are actively looking for a new job or are open to one. Also, 51% say they would switch to a job that allows them flextime. (Gallup)
51% of US workers claim they would quit their current job for one that allows flexible work arrangements. (Gallup)
Over 1/3 of employees would accept a pay cut of up to 5% in exchange for the option to work from home at least some of the time, 1/4 would accept a 10% pay cut, and 20% would accept an even greater cut. (Owl Labs)
55% of remote workers would be looking for another job if they were no longer allowed to work from home. (Owl Labs)
80% of US workers say they would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working, and it’s so important to them that more than 1/3 say they would prioritize such arrangements over having a more prestigious role. (IWG)
Almost 30% of people value being able to choose their work location over an increase in vacation time. (IWG)
Job applicants are willing to accept 8% less pay for the option to work from home. (Princeton University / Harvard University)
Almost 70% of Millennials would be willing to sacrifice other benefits for more flexible work arrangements. (CBRE)
74% of employees would quit their current jobs to work for a different company that would allow them to work remotely more often—even if their salary stayed at the same level. (SoftChoice)
37% of remote employees would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home. (Global Workplace Analytics)
How Many People Work Remotely and Who They Are
As you can see, flexible work arrangements statistics testify to the fact that work from home is a widespread phenomenon. The stats below will give you more insight into who’s most likely to benefit from work from home arrangements:
Senior executives and above say they work from home at least once a week 34% more than people in lower positions. (Owl Labs)
Among workers aged 25+, those with an advanced degree were more likely to work from home than those with lower levels of educational attainment. 42% of those with an advanced degree did some work at home on days worked compared to 12% of those with a high school diploma and no college. (BLS)
78% of remote workers hold at least a college degree and 32% are manager level or higher. (FlexJobs)
Working From Home Stats—Commute
One of the most obvious advantages of working from home is not having to commute. These remote work statistics will give you an idea on how long it takes on average to get to work. And what length of time commuters find acceptable.
The most typical length of a commute in 2019 was about 30 minutes. (Gallup)
30% of home buyers indicated that a commute between 15 and 29 minutes was their max. Only 12% of home buyers said they were willing to commute an hour or more. (Zillow)
27% of employees consider their commute a waste of time. (Regus)
81% of remote workers have spent time working while traveling outside of their home city. (Buffer)
Telecommuting Statistics—The Dark Side
The picture of remote work would be incomplete without a look at the flip side of the coin. The working from home stats below show the struggles that remote workers have to deal with.
Remote workers attend more weekly meetings than on-site workers. 14% of remote workers spend time at more than 10 meetings weekly (vs. about 3% of on-site workers). (Owl Labs)
21% of remote workers admit that the biggest struggle of working remotely is loneliness. Another 21% said that it was collaborating and communicating. (Buffer)
Almost 70% of remote workers think that technology boosts their productivity. However, about 25% are afraid that technology will take their place in the future. Also, 83% of remote workers fall back on technology to collaborate in real-time, yet as many as 78% admit that technical problems disrupt such collaboration. (HR Dive)
The biggest struggle for 22% of remote workers is unplugging after work, followed by loneliness (19%), and problems with collaborating/communicating (17%). (Buffer)
75% of remote employees say their employers don't cover their home internet costs. Also, 71% admit their companies don't pay for coworking spaces. (Buffer)
Benefits of Working From Home—Statistics
Finally, let’s have a closer look into the benefits that flexible work arrangements offer both companies and employees alike.
Thanks to remote work arrangements, American Express is able to save up to $15 million per year in real estate costs. (American Express)
Adopting work from home policies could reduce the time employees spend getting to and from work by 5.8 billion hours a year, drive savings of $44.4 billion on commuting costs such as tickets and gas, and put more than $107 billion a year back into the pockets of US workers. (Citrix)
93% of US employees say remote work would enable them to manage their time more effectively and devote extra hours to work tasks. (Citrix)
An astounding 97% of employees say a job with flexibility would be a huge improvement or have a positive impact on their overall quality of life. (Flex Jobs)
53% of employees state that better work-life balance and personal wellbeing are very important to them when considering a new job — as do 60% of women, of whom 48% are actively looking for a new employer. (Gallup)
Remote workers earn more than $100,000 per year 2.2 times more frequently than on-site workers. (Owl Labs)
2/3 of employers state that remote workers are more productive in comparison with on-site employees. (TECLA)
Developers working remotely can earn up to 40% more than on-site developers. (Stack Overflow)
On average, remote workers take longer breaks than office employees (22 minutes vs. 18 minutes). However, they work 10 minutes longer each day. Additionally, office workers are unproductive for about 37 minutes a day (excluding lunch and other breaks), whereas remote employees are unproductive for around 27 minutes. (AirTasker)
82% of remote workers report lower stress levels. (Premiere Global Services)
Almost 3/4 respondents maintain that flexible work arrangements help them with striking the right work-life balance. Over 1/3 state they need to work remotely, so they can take care of their children. (SHRM)
About 40% of remote workers agree that a flexible schedule is the biggest benefit of working remotely. 30% say it’s the ability to work from any location, and 14% state it’s family time. (Buffer)
The stats we’ve collected clearly show that work from home is not a new phenomenon. Flexible work arrangements have been there for a while and people have grown to appreciate their benefits.
In the modern world, we can only expect these numbers to grow. That’s why it’s crucial for companies to implement effective and efficient work-from-home procedures, and for employees to optimize their remote work practices.
But one thing is certain and the work from home stats we’ve collected testify to this—
The benefits of working remotely outweigh its disadvantages.
What do you think about the stats we’ve compiled here? Have you recently landed a remote job? Are you an employer offering flexible work arrangements? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a shout out in the comments below.
Maciej Duszynski is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. With over 8 years of experience in recruitment, hiring, and training, Maciej shares insider HR knowledge to equip every job seeker with professional advice to nail the job hunt. His insights have been featured by the Chicago Tribune, SparkPeople, Toggl, Referral Rock, and Databox, among others. Maciej has helped job candidates at all stages of their career paths, from interns to directors to C-suite members, to thrive in their job. His mission is to help you find the right opportunity and create a job application that gets you the career you deserve. Maciej holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in communication and education management.