Remote working opportunities have exploded in popularity over the past few years, and are on a trajectory for further growth in the future. Thrust into the spotlight as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are going fully remote by necessity.
And this trend exists for good reason—according to most sources, working from home has the power to increase productivity, improve employee happiness, and save your business a ton of money (especially in the long run).
Of course, it’s lazy to speculate about the benefits of a new work arrangement without backing it up with facts. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of 83 remote work statistics you can use to evaluate whether remote work is right for your business.
First, here’s an infographic with my 10 favorite remote work statistics from this list:
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Table of Contents
- Insights From the 2020 State of Remote Work (Buffer/AngelList)
- Insights From the OWLLabs State of Remote Work 2019 Report
- Insights From The Remote-how Remote Managers 2020 Report
- Remote Work Availability Statistics
- Productivity Statistics for Remote Workers
- Remote Work Salary Statistics
- Addressing the Challenges of Remote Work
Insights From the 2020 State of Remote Work (Buffer/AngelList)
One of the best and most recent comprehensive studies on remote work is a report by Buffer and AngelList called the “2020 State of Remote Work.” The report is full of rich data and meaningful insights—so I encourage you to read it yourself if you’re looking for more data. I’ve also gathered some of my favorite insights below.
One note about this research; these insights were gathered based on a survey from 3,500 people who work remotely around the world. Accordingly, you may want to take the findings with a grain of salt. Many insights may be affected by self-reporting bias.
Remote Work Statistics
1. 98 percent of people would like to work remotely at least some of the time. Only 2 percent of people feel like they would never want to work from home. There seems to be near-universal desire here.
2. 97 percent of people would recommend remote work to others. A similarly overwhelming majority of people working from home would recommend remote work for others; in other words, they see a genuine benefit, and aren’t just selfishly trying to work from home more often.
3. 57 percent of remote workers work remotely 100 percent of the time. More than half of people who work remotely do so full-time. This is impressive, because remote work is still considered a novelty by many people. However, many teams not only survive, but thrive with full-time remote work.
4. 5 percent of remote workers work remotely 76-99 percent of the time. Another 16.5 percent of people work remotely at least three-quarters of the time, meaning 73 percent of remote workers work remotely most of the time.
5. 10 percent of remote workers work remotely 1-25 percent of the time. Only 10 percent of remote workers work remotely less than a quarter of the time. It’s much more common to work remotely more often.
6. Only 11 percent of remote workers wished they worked remotely less often. The majority of people who work from home are either satisfied with the amount they work remotely, or want to work remotely more often.
7. 19 percent of remote workers want to work remotely more often. The remaining 70 percent are perfectly satisfied.
8. The biggest perceived benefit of working remotely is the flexible schedule. For 32 percent of participants, the flexible schedule of working remotely is the best benefit. Additionally, 26 percent of people like the idea of working from anywhere, and 21 percent mostly value not having to commute. Most of these benefits revolve around flexibility, which is unsurprising.
9. The biggest perceived struggle of working remotely is a tie between communication strain and loneliness. Also unsurprisingly, loneliness and difficulty communicating were the top concerns, each with 20 percent of participants claiming them as their biggest issue while working remotely. Notably, 18 percent of people also cited “not being able to unplug” as their biggest issue, and 12 percent of people cited “distractions at home.” While remote work has a lot of advantages, it also has some major downsides and weaknesses to consider.
10. 80 percent of remote workers work from home. Remote work could technically mean working anywhere, but 80 percent of remote working survey participants claim to work from home most of the time. Another 9 percent use a company’s office, and 7 percent use coworking spaces. It makes sense that people would default to a home environment.
11. 43 percent of respondents work for a company with a split. Part of the team is working remotely full-time, while another segment of the team works out of a traditional office. This is likely due to some roles being impossible to perform remotely.
12. 30 percent of respondents work for a company with a full remote team. By contrast, 30 percent of survey respondents are part of a company with a team that’s entirely remote.
13. Among people who don’t recommend remote work, 53 percent work full-time. People who don’t recommend remote work are in the minority, but among those respondents, 53 percent work remotely full-time. Take from that what you will.
14. Remote workers are more satisfied when spending at least 76 percent of their time working remotely. Satisfaction with remote work tends to increase as people work remotely more frequently. This is likely due to developing a routine, and keeping that routine consistent.
15. 80 percent of remote workers must pay for their own internet. While some companies support remote workers by compensating them for expenses related to working remotely, 80 percent of remote workers are paying for their own internet connection.
16. 72 percent of remote workers must pay for their coworking membership. Similarly, 72 percent of remote workers would need to pay for their own coworking membership, if they wanted one.
Insights From the OWLLabs State of Remote Work 2019 Report
A similar report from OWLLabs adds more context and more information we can use to study remote work trends.
This survey focused on 1,202 full-time employees in the United States between the ages of 22 and 65, giving it a different set of demographics than the Buffer/AngelList report.
17. 62 percent of employees between 22 and 65 work remotely at least occasionally. You’ll find varying figures for the “total people working from home” category, based on the timing, wording, and target demographics of the survey. This survey finds that 62 percent of people work from home at least occasionally.
18. 30 percent of all employees work remotely full-time. It also found that 30 percent of employees now work remotely full-time, presumably collaborating with remote teams as well.
19. 18 percent of employees work remotely between 1 and 3 days per week. The report also found that 18 percent of employees work remotely a few, but not all days of the week.
20. 18 percent of executives work remotely more than onsite. In an increasing trend, executives are becoming more likely to work remotely than work onsite.
21. 46 percent of C-suite members work remotely at least occasionally. Nearly half of C-suite executives work from home at least occasionally.
22. 55 percent of VPs work remotely at least occasionally. For VPs, the percentage is even higher.
23. Onsite workers are 75 percent more likely to have been in their position for less than a year. Interestingly, onsite workers are more likely to have less experience with the employer. This implies that working remotely could be treated as a benefit that is earned through tenure in many organizations.
24. 36 percent more onsite workers have been at their organization for more than 10 years. However, it’s also true that onsite workers often have a long history with the company. In other words, the most and least experienced people tend to be more likely to be onsite, with somewhat experienced employees more likely to work remotely.
25. 35 percent of remote employees are “individual contributors.” About a third of remote employees consider themselves individual contributors, or bottom-rung members of a hierarchical team.
26. By contrast, 32 percent of remote employees are team managers. Another third are considered team managers.
27. 63 percent of onsite workers are individual contributors. Interestingly, a much greater percentage of onsite workers consider themselves individual contributors.
28. 26 percent of remote employees are team managers. Team managers are increasingly likely to work remotely.
29. 42 percent of employees who currently work from home plan to work remotely more often in the future. It’s a good sign that most people working remotely are counting on working remotely the same amount or more in the future.
30. Customer support is more likely to be onsite. 21 percent of onsite respondents were in customer support, while only 14 percent of remote working respondents were in customer support.
31. Facilities/operations/IT is more likely to be remote. 12 percent of onsite respondents were in customer support, while 18 percent of remote working respondents were in customer support.
32. 74 percent of remote workers earn less than $100,000 per year. Remote work doesn’t seem to be exclusive to one salary tier or another.
33. 92 percent of onsite workers earn less than $100,000 per year. However, it’s worth noting that onsite roles tend to be much less likely to fall into the “high earner” category.
34. 83 percent of respondents believe working from home would make them happier. Most people believe they would be happier overall if they worked from home.
35. 82 percent of respondents believe remote work would make them feel trusted. Understandably, a similar majority of respondents would feel more trusted by their employers if allowed to work remotely.
36. 81 percent of respondents agreed that remote work was favorable for work-life balance. Work-life balance improves productivity, increases happiness, and even positively impacts health, and most people believe that remote work improves work-life balance.
37. 80 percent of respondents believe remote work would lower their stress. Stress reduction could be associated with any number of remote work benefits, including less commute time, fewer workplace distractions, and greater control over your work habits. Don’t miss our post on 21 ways to reduce and relieve stress!
38. 74 percent of employees would be less likely to leave an employer if working remotely. If you have the benefit of working from home, you’ll be unlikely to intentionally leave.
39. 34 percent of respondents would take a pay cut of 5 percent to work remotely. More than a third of workers would be willing to make 5 percent less if it meant getting to work remotely.
40. 24 percent of respondents would take a pay cut of 10 percent to work remotely. And nearly a quarter of workers would take a 10 percent cut to work remotely.
41. 68 percent of respondents believe remote work will not impact their career trajectory. Most people believe they can continue pursuing their career goals at the same pace, with the same potential, even when working from home.
42. 91 percent of respondents choose remote work primarily for better work-life balance. This study suggests that work-life balance is the highest priority for remote workers. You’ll have more free time (since you won’t be commuting), more autonomy, and hypothetically, more quality time with your family.
43. Health insurance and base compensation remain top concerns. Among job perks, 88 percent of survey respondents chose health insurance and 88 percent chose base compensation as a top concern, with base compensation more important for remote workers.
44. Schedule flexibility is twice as important to remote workers. People who work remotely want more control over their working hours.
45. Education and training reimbursement is 26 more important to remote workers. Remote workers want to feel like their employers are supporting their advancement.
46. A similar number of remote and onsite workers feel overworked. The percentage of remote workers who feel overworked is 20 percent, while 22 percent of onsite workers feel overworked.
47. Remote workers are more likely to work longer hours because they enjoy what they do. There are many reasons why someone might work longer hours, but 40 percent of remote workers do so because they like what they do, compared to just 17 percent of onsite workers.
48. Remote workers are more likely to attend 11 or more meetings per week. About 14 percent of remote workers attend 11 or more meetings per week, compared to just 3 percent of onsite workers.
49. Remote worker routines aren’t significantly different. This survey also revealed that remote workers don’t manage their time much differently or adjust their routines much when working remotely. For example, remote workers are still waking up at a similar time and showering before work (if they did so before).
Insights From The Remote-how Remote Managers 2020 Report
Another report from Remote-how yields some new and interesting statistics as well. This survey focused on 594 people from around the globe, of which 529 already had experience in managing remote teams.
50. The most common team size that managers are leading is 3-8 people. Small teams seem to be far more common than large remote teams.
51. 56% of managers work with fully remote teams, and 44% work with hybrid teams (teams that are partially remote). There’s a clear trend toward going remote!
52. The biggest advantages of remote teams are happier employees (59%), access to a global talent pool (57%), and more productive employees (52%). Clearly, there are significant benefits to working with remote teams!
53. The biggest disadvantages of remote teams are a lack of relationships among employees (57%), communication difficulties (47%), and decreased employee visibility (45%). There are also downsides to remote teams, but they seem to be outweighed by the positives.
54. The most important traits required by a remote team manager are communication (69%), organizational skills (37%), and self-discipline (35%). Communication is clearly the most important trait for a remote team manager.
55. 87% of remote managers believe that remote work is the future. Only 2% believe that it isn’t. Prepare your business for remote work, as a large majority of remote managers believe it’s not only here to stay, but will accelerate.
Remote Work Availability Statistics
Now, let’s look at a variety of other sources to study the rise in remote work availability.
56. Remote work grew 115 percent over the past decade. Over the last 10 years, remote work has grown more than 115 percent—even more in certain sectors. It makes sense, since remote work technology is more available and employers are more likely to acknowledge the benefits of remote work.
57. Companies with remote positions available hire 33 percent faster. According to one study, companies that have remote positions are able to fill their vacancies 33 percent faster, due to higher demand.
58. 23 percent of people now work from home at least some of the time. One report by the BLS found that 23 percent of people are now working from home at least part of the time. Other surveys have confirmed even higher numbers.
59. 7 million employees now work from home at least half the week. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 4.7 million people now work remotely for at least half their workweek.
60. 72 percent of professionals agree that workplace flexibility is important for future HR and recruiting. According to a study by Linkedin, the majority of people believe that remote work options (and similarly flexible policies) will be vital for HR and recruiting in the future.
61. 79 percent of employees would be more loyal if their employer offered more flexibility. In line with this, Flexjobs found that nearly 4 in 5 employees would be more loyal to an employer if they had more flexibility in their job.
62. 32 percent of employees have left a job due to lack of flexibility. The same study found that nearly a third of employees have left a job specifically because it wasn’t flexible enough.
63. 85 percent of millennials want to work remotely full-time. According to Flexjobs, the vast majority of millennials would work remotely full-time, if given the chance. This remains a majority, but falls slightly, in older age groups.
Productivity Statistics for Remote Workers
As you might expect after reading about the benefits of remote work and some of the other statistics on this list, working remotely usually increases productivity. But we can get more specific:
64. Remote work leads to a boost in performance by 13 percent. In this famous remote work study from Stanford, agents who worked from home saw an increase in performance of 13 percent. However, it’s not clear exactly why this increase happened; there are several competing hypotheses.
65. Remote work also lowers attrition by 50 percent. The same study found that remote work lowered employee attrition by 50 percent, presumably because they were more satisfied with their positions.
66. Other teleworkers are upwards of 25 percent more productive. One study by JD Edwards found that remote workers could be 20-25 percent more productive, reinforcing the idea.
67. 77 percent of remote workers consider themselves more productive. Self-reporting bias aside, it seems like most people feel more productive and more efficient when working from home. Of course, some of this could be a byproduct of wishful thinking.
68. Remote workers are 52 percent less likely to take time off. The same study found that remote workers were far less likely to request days off. Again, this is probably due to lower stress levels and higher overall satisfaction.
69. 83 percent of people don’t believe they need an office to be productive. According to one report, a majority of people believe they can be productive without being in a physical office.
70. 86 percent of people prefer to work alone. Whether it’s to avoid distraction or feel a sense of higher autonomy, 86 percent of people prefer to work by themselves.
71. 61 percent of people believe coworkers to be their biggest distraction. The same study found that one of the biggest cited distractions in a conventional workplace environment is other coworkers.
72. 72 percent of people prioritize email as a communication medium. According to this study, most people prefer email as their primary communication medium, which is perfect for a remote work environment.
73. 82 percent of remote workers report less stress. Understandably, 82 percent of people working remotely report lower levels of stress. There are fewer office rules to contend with, no commute problems, and more autonomy and flexibility.
74. Remote workers are 24 percent more likely to be happy. One earlier OWL Labs study found that remote workers are 24 percent more likely to be happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy?
75. Companies with remote work have 25 percent lower turnover. The same study found that workplaces with remote work have 25 percent lower turnover; employees who work remotely want to stick around.
76. 76 percent of workers want to avoid the office when concentrating. According to Atlassian, when people want to concentrate specifically on a demanding project, 76 percent of people want to avoid the office and find a better place to work.
77. AT&T was able to save $150 million in extra hours of productive work. One report by AT&T found that allowing people to work from home resulted in an increase of productive hours that saved the company $150 million. Additionally, the company saved $30 million per year in real estate from their telework initiative.
78. 70 percent of remote workers feel left out. According to one report, 70 percent of remote workers do feel “left out” of the workplace. This is a challenge that can be overcome with better communication and remote teamwork.
Remote Work Salary Statistics
It’s also worth thinking about some of the financial implications of remote work:
79. Remote workers have a higher salary. One report from the Penny Hoarder found that remote workers making less than $100,000 per year, on average, made $4,000 per year more than their traditional working counterparts.
80. 69 percent of millennials would sacrifice other benefits to work from home. According to IWG, most millennials would be willing to get rid of other built-in benefits if it meant getting to work from home.
81. 30 percent of remote employees save $5,000 a year on workplace-related expenses. According to CoSo Cloud, remote workers can save as much as $5,000 on things like office-related expenses and commuting costs once they start working from home.
82. If everyone worked from home half the time, it could result in $700 billion in savings. According to this study, if every employee who could work from home did work from home just half the time, it could save employers and employees a collective $700 billion.
83. Businesses could save up to $11,000 per year, per employee with telework. The same report found that businesses could save up to $11,000 per year, per employee by allowing remote work and forgoing or lowering various types of expenses.
Addressing the Challenges of Remote Work
Now that you’re equipped with these remote work statistics, you’re ready to make a decision about going remote with your own business. Don’t miss these working from home tips that are scientifically proven to boost your team’s productivity! And be sure to check out our post on the 21 essential tools for remote teams.
Obviously, remote work isn’t purely advantageous; you’re going to experience growing pains as you adapt to new circumstances, and there are unique challenges of remote work that you’ll need to address. For example, you’ll need some way to track employee productivity and behavior while your team is working remotely.
One of the best ways to do this is with EmailAnalytics—a comprehensive analytics app for Gmail. Once linked with your employees’ accounts, you’ll be able to see how many emails your employees are sending and receiving, their average response times, and more. Sign up for a free trial today, and get better control over your remote workers’ productivity.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.