This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Remote work statistics show dramatic changes in where and when employees are now working. Despite many experts and employers anticipating—or hoping—these trends would change post-pandemic, they haven’t. Remote work is sticking around, and workers have made it clear they don’t want to be in an office all day, every day. Using data as the guide, your small business can adapt to the changing work environment and stand out to potential employees while retaining—or increasing—your company’s productivity.
With 2023 looking like a banner year for job seekers (71% say now is a good time to find a new job), here are the most important remote work statistics to know:
Key Workplace & Remote Work Statistics
Before we get deep into remote work statistics, it is worth taking a look at some more general workplace trends you should consider as you make decisions around remote work for your business.
1. Just 21% of workers are engaged (Gallup)
Engagement among workers rose in 2020 and 2021, but that upward trend did not continue into 2022. At the end of the year, just 21% of workers were engaged at work and only about a third were “thriving in their overall well-being.”
2. Flexible work policies are the third most important factor for job seekers (McKinsey)
Flexible working arrangements are the third most important consideration for job seekers, behind increased pay and better opportunities. This means if a candidate is entertaining multiple job offers around the same salary, your company could win out by having a flexible work arrangement.
3. Low employee engagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion (Gallup)
Most employees remain disengaged at work, costing the global economy $7.8 trillion. But companies have the power to change this statistic by engaging employees—and one of the best ways to do that, as noted in the stat above, is to allow work location flexibility. When employees are engaged, they are more productive workers.
4. 97% of employees want to work remotely at least some of the time (Buffer)
Across all demographics, workers today want the option to work remotely at least part of the time. Furthermore, most workers who have worked remotely found it to be a positive experience. This means companies need to make dramatic workplace changes, if they haven’t already, to accommodate shifting workforce demands.
5. The number of remote workers tripled from 2019 to 2021 (US Census Bureau)
According to data from the US Census Bureau released at the end of 2022, the number of US employees working from home tripled from roughly nine million to over 27 million. While this number has plateaued, don’t expect a return to previous levels of remote workers in the near future.
6. 40 million Americans will work from home by 2026 (Upwork)
According to the survey, 40 million workers will be working from home by 2026. This study suggested that nearly 28% of workers would be fully remote by 2026. A prior Upwork survey showed that only 23% would be fully remote by 2025.
Remote Work Statistics for Employers
7. Remote workers are 40% more productive than in-office workers (Global Workplace Analytics)
Remote workers are less distracted and more productive than workers in an office. Mostly because of fewer interruptions from colleagues and a quieter work environment, employees produce better work faster at home. The same study also found that businesses lose $600 billion annually to workplace distractions.
8. 87% of workers will work remotely if given the option (McKinsey)
When a company provides the option for workers to work remotely, 87% of survey respondents said they’d take the offer. These results are not restricted to certain industries, either. People from nearly every type of work, including typically blue collar industries, would work remote when given the chance.
Hearing what today’s workforce wants, businesses of all sizes are reacting and adopting hybrid workforce models. A hybrid flexible schedule usually consists of one or two days per week in the office, with the rest of the time people working remotely.
10. The average US company saves over $11,000 per employee per year by going remote part time (Global Workplace Analytics)
While many companies do not want to go fully remote, they could save an astounding amount of money each year by having their workforce go remote for at least half of their workweek. From the lower cost of office space and less turnover to increased productivity and employee engagement, companies may see drastically reduced overhead.
11. The number of workers choosing to work remotely increased 24% year over year (Owl Labs)
From 2021 to 2022, the number of US employees choosing to work remotely rose by 24%. Those choosing hybrid work setups increased by 16%. According to the report, employers allowing remote work see higher happiness and engagement in employees, leading to lower turnover rates. Learning how to hire remote employees will be crucial to your company’s success moving forward.
Remote Work Statistics for Employees
12. 55% of remote workers reported work longer hours than those in the office (Owl Labs)
People working remotely tend to work more hours than those working in an office. Most remote workers work about two to 10 more hours per week, an act which can contribute to overwork and stress.
13. Workers are more stressed than ever before (Gallup)
Even higher than 2020, 44% of workers today say they experience a lot of daily stress. When employees feel stressed, that reduces their productivity and engagement, making for a less pleasant work environment, even for remote workers.
14. 84% of workers find remote work makes them happier (FlexJobs)
Mental health is increasingly something workers seek. Working remotely or from home helps them be happier. Partly because they deal with less workplace stress by not going into an office, these workers are more likely to have a better work/life balance, which makes them more productive and focused when they’re working.
15. Depending on where an employee lives and works, they can save an average of $5,600 per year on commuting costs (LendingTree)
The pandemic showed many workers just how much money they could save by not commuting to an office or workplace every day. In expensive cities (the LendingTree study looked at the top 100), the costs of public transportation, gas, tolls, and parking can easily reach into the thousands of dollars per year. Instead of spending this money on their job, workers can see extra savings build up, increasing their satisfaction with their job.
Workers also save time by reducing or eliminating their commute (an average of 52 minutes in the top 100 cities), giving them more focused productivity to their employer.
16. 66% of workers would look for a new job if flexible work options were taken away (Owl Labs)
Workers want flexibility, and many have gotten it over the last couple of years. If that flexibility is taken away, 66% of workers would immediately start looking for a new job. According to the survey, 39%of workers would quit without a new job lined up. Hiring employees takes a great deal of time and you don’t want to continuously repeat that effort with low attrition rates.
17. 38% of workers do some or all of their work at home (BLS)
This is an 11 point increase from pre-pandemic levels. Working from home is here to stay and it’s an important benefit for workers across industries.
18. In-office work dropped by 24% from 2021 (Owl Labs)
Interest in working in an office full-time dropped by 24% from 2021. For companies to attract and retain top remote talent, they’ll need to adapt. This is especially important for small businesses, as 41% of them are requiring employees to return to the office.
19. 61% of workers today work from home even though their office is open (Pew)
In 2020, 64% of employees worked from home because their office was closed. In 2022, the most recent year data is available, only 38% of workers say their office is closed. Nearly two-thirds of workers today actively choose to work from home or remotely even though their office is open.
20. 25% of remote workers struggle with unplugging (Buffer)
Remote employees may be more engaged, healthier, and productive employees, but they also struggle with disconnecting. When you work from your living room or kitchen table, it’s hard to mentally disconnect. Workers need help and support from their employer or they risk sliding into a state of disengagement and withdrawing completely.
The data is clear—remote work is here to stay. Companies must embrace this changing workforce dynamic or risk being left behind as employees leave for competitors, offering the flexible work options they want. Take this information and make positive changes in your organization to stay on top of workplace and remote work trends, which can help you attract and retain top talent in your industry.