This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Remote work statistics show dramatic changes in where and when employees are now working. While remote work has been on the rise for many years, the number of people working remotely has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
Here are the most important remote work statistics to know.
Key Remote Working Statistics
1. Remote work grew 216% pre-pandemic—2005 to 2019—and has accelerated since (Global Workplace Analytics, Gartner)
Even before the pandemic forced many office workers home, remote work was strongly on the rise. And it of course accelerated over the past two years, with Gartner finding that for one segment of the workforce (knowledge workers), the percentage of those working from home nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021.
Companies allowing remote work can quickly see the value in expanding their talent pool outside their physical location, attracting more workers looking for that option. Technological improvements in communication tools have also helped spur this change.
2. 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.
3. Over one quarter of all workers will be fully remote in five years (Upwork)
Based on projected workforce estimates, that equates to over 40 million employees working remotely full time. Companies need to prepare for these changes by implementing new technology to help facilitate collaboration and productive work.
4. Miles driven by commuting workers could be reduced by up to 140 billion per year (KPMG)
With more employees working remotely and not commuting to any office, miles of driving to and from work could be substantially reduced. Besides saving employees money, this can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Remote Work Statistics for Employers
5. Businesses lose $391 billion annually to workplace distractions (Economist Intelligence Unit)
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.
6. Worker productivity was 7% higher than expected from March 2020 to May 2021 (WFH Research)
Businesses were concerned about a sudden shift to remote work. However, through the first year of the pandemic, worker productivity was higher than expected, leading many businesses to reconsider their approach to remote work.
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.
8. 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.
9. Companies that allow remote work have 25% lower turnover versus companies that don’t (Owl Labs)
Employees are generally happier when they have the option for remote work—because of the lack of a commute, among other reasons. They’re also more likely to stick with their employer. Increased job satisfaction from remote work can make employees more loyal and less likely to look for employment elsewhere, decreasing your turnover rate. Learning how to hire remote employees will be crucial to your company’s success.
10. Only 38% of employees work for a company with asynchronous work policies (Buffer)
Asynchronous work policies allow people to work when it works for them, regardless of time zone or location. Except for important company events or meetings, employees can choose to work at a time that’s convenient for them. More than half of workers, according to this survey, want their employer to implement asynchronous work policies going forward.
11. Nearly all surveyed hiring managers expect remote work to become the norm (Gartner)
Regardless of the type of employee being hired, 90% of all managers surveyed expected remote work to continue for those employees whose jobs allow them that flexibility. This shows that managers are embracing this shift instead of opposing, fighting, or simply reacting to it after the fact.
Remote Work Statistics for Employees
12. 60% of millennial workers selected flexible work options as their top priority—more than pay (Bankrate)
These workers would be willing to give up some time off and other benefits to keep or increase their work flexibility. Since millennial workers make up about half of today’s workforce, employers should listen.
13. 54% of remote workers feel valued by their colleagues (CNBC/SurveyMonkey)
Despite working remotely and not being able to collaborate in person, remote workers are more likely to feel like their contributions are valued by their colleagues. Only 48% of workers going to an office feel the same way.
14. 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.
15. Over half of all workers would quit if pandemic working flexibility is reduced (EY)
Workers want flexibility and many have gotten it over the last couple of years. If their employers reduce that flexibility, over half say they’re ready to find another job with more flexibility. Hiring employees takes a great deal of time and you don’t want to continuously repeat that effort with low attrition rates.
16. 56% of workers see flexibility in their workday as the best way for their employer to support them (FlexJobs)
Instead of their employer telling them what to do and when to do it, workers who are trusted to get their work done, regardless of the time of day, feel most supported. It also improves their mental health, letting them better focus on work.
17. 70% of workers want flexible remote work options (Microsoft)
Brought on by the pandemic, many office workers started working from home in March 2020 and didn’t want to return to the office. For companies to attract and retain top remote talent, they’ll need to adapt.
18. Working mothers are 32% less likely to look for another job if they can work remotely (Catalyst)
Working mothers are much less likely to leave their job if their employer allows remote and flexible work options. They want flexibility to be able to participate in their child’s lives and not have to upend them to move to a new city for a new job.
19. Remote workers are happier (Owl Labs)
Employees who worked remotely during the pandemic said that, if given the opportunity to continue working remotely at least some of the time, 84% would be happier workers. Nearly 80% also said they would feel less stressed and more trusted to do their jobs without micromanagement or intense supervision.
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.