2021 was largely about working remotely, following a work model shift due to the COVID pandemic.
Many companies that weren’t initially open to telecommuting had no choice but to adapt to the new norm, realizing later that remote work wasn’t bad, after all.
So, is remote work here to stay?
In this article, we’ll discover some of the key remote work stats 2021 that employers and employees need to take note of. We’ll also cover statistics around remote work benefits, earnings, and the challenges companies face by working remotely.
This article contains:
(Click on a link below to jump to a specific section.)
- General Remote Work Stats 2021
- Statistics on the Benefits of Remote Work
- Statistics on Remote Work Earnings
- Statistics on Remote Recruitment and Employee Retention
- Statistics Around Remote Work Challenges
- Remote Work Trends to Watch in 2022
Let’s get started!
1. General remote work stats 2021
Here are the top statistics that’ll give you better insight into the world of remote working in 2021:
A. By the end of 2021, around 51% of global knowledge workers will be remote
According to Gartner Inc.’s June 2021 global study, more than half of the knowledge workers worldwide may be working remotely. This is a significant rise compared to 27% of remote workers in 2019.
Note: Gartner defines a knowledge worker as any employee involved in a knowledge-intensive occupation, such as writers, accountants, or engineers. This survey was conducted across countries including the USA, UK, Europe, Germany, China, India, and France.
Gartner estimates that remote employees would represent around 31% of the global workforce in 2022.
The survey also highlights that digital products and services would significantly impact remote working. The report highlights that remote working will lead to PC and tablet shipments to over 500 million units.
B. 30% of American employees consider themselves hybrid employees
According to the Quantum Workplace survey published in August 2021, 30% of 1 million respondents working for American organizations consider themselves hybrid employees, while 35% reported working remotely.
Additionally, there’s a positive shift towards the hybrid work model. The percentage of remote and hybrid employees is much larger than the pre pandemic levels.
In fact, according to a collaborative Owl Lab study, 71% of U.S. employees want a hybrid or remote working style once the pandemic is over.
C. 82% of American employees want to telecommute at least once a week when the pandemic is over
As per the Global Workplace Analytics study conducted in June 2021, on average, the American work-from-home population (excluding self-employed) would prefer telecommuting half of the time.
Note: Global Workplace Analytics defines telecommuting as substituting technology for commuter travel.
Here are some interesting stats on how many employees want to telecommute:
- 19% of survey respondents would like to telecommute full-time, and the balance preferred hybrid work.
- If not allowed to work remotely after the pandemic, 46% would look for another job.
- 46% of respondents would take a pay cut of up to 5% to work remotely at least part-time.
- Only 8% of the American workforce doesn’t want to work from home at all.
D. 57% of all employees who returned to the office would prefer working from home full-time
According to Owl Lab’s State of Remote Work 2021 study, 73% of American employees that worked from home during the COVID pandemic returned to the office at least once a week.
However, more than half of the respondents who returned would prefer working from home full-time. Also, 78% felt more included in the team when at the office.
If you’re an employer considering hiring remote professionals or are a remote worker yourself, here’re some compelling remote work statistics:
- 38% of the respondents said their employer had upgraded their remote work technology to improve hybrid collaboration.
- If not allowed to work remotely, nearly 48% of respondents would stay in the current role but be less willing to put in extra effort.
- While 39% of employers want employees to be in the office full-time, only 29% of office employees want the same.
- 42% of the survey respondents state that they’re stressed about uncertainty around in-office requirements.
If you aren’t sure about remote job seekers or having flexible work options, you might want to consider some remote working benefits.
2. Statistics on the benefits of remote work
Here’re some statistics favoring the remote work trend:
A. Increased productivity
A June 2020 survey by the Boston Consulting Group found that 75% of remote professionals (out of 12,000 employed before and during COVID-19 in the US, Germany, and India) felt that they’ve maintained or even improved their productivity with fewer distractions.
Additionally, 51% of respondents said they experienced increased productivity on collaborative tasks in a remote work environment.
Similarly, the Quantum Workforce survey states that 79% of US employees working remotely have had little effect on their day-to-day performance while working from home.
Another point to note is that organizations are increasingly investing in tools and apps to help employees collaborate and improve productivity.
One of these prominent tools is Time Doctor.
It’s a robust employee productivity and workforce management software used by major companies, like Verizon and Ericsson, and SMBs, such as Thrive Market.
It can effectively track the working hours of remote, on-premise staff, hybrid teams, and freelancers. Moreover, it can empower employees to take control of their personal time management and productivity.
Here’re some of the key features of using this productivity tool:
- It offers both manual and automatic time tracking.
- Its work scheduling feature allows employers to manage schedules and shifts for their remote team.
- An employer can access comprehensive real-time productivity reports to evaluate employee productivity.
- Employers can quickly generate payroll at any point and make direct payments by integrating with PayPal, Wise, Gusto, or ADP.
- Its powerful Chrome integration allows a remote team to integrate time tracking with project management apps like Asana, Slack, and Basecamp.
B. Lesser absenteeism
When it comes to taking leaves, remote professionals have an advantage. For example, if they feel under the weather but can still work, they can easily do that without taking a leave.
And it’s interesting to note that 44% of remote workers (2019 Buffer study) may take only 2-3 weeks off per year despite having unlimited vacation options. The survey targeted people living in different countries, working in IT, media, healthcare, education, etc.
C. Better work life balance
According to the 2021 Global Workplace Analytics and Owl Labs survey, working remotely allowed 83% of respondents to have a work life balance and higher job satisfaction.
This also accounts for employees taking lesser leaves.
D. Increased workforce diversity
With a traditional office space setup, an employer is restricted by location and can only access the local talent pool.
In fact, a 2018 Harvard Business Review research shows that applicants who lived 5-6 miles farther from the job received about one-third fewer callbacks (based on 2,000 resumes sent to low-wage job openings).
However, by allowing remote work, an employer can access the top talent globally that varies in abilities, gender, race, ethnicity, and geographic location.
E. Flexible schedule
According to Buffer.com’s 2019 survey, 40% of respondents felt that the biggest advantage of remote work is a flexible schedule, followed by working from any location (30%) and getting to spend time with family (14%.)
With these remote work statistics in mind, it’s clear why remote or hybrid work may overtake non remote workers in the coming years.
7. Reduced stress on the environment
An Alliance Virtual Offices report found that working from home at Xerox saved workers approximately 92 million miles of driving, which otherwise would have produced 41,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
A 2020 survey by Global Action Plan also encouraged employers to adopt the remote working model to help reduce air pollution from fuel combustion.
The math is simple, the more people work from home, the fewer vehicles commute on the roads.
While remote working is good for the environment, it can also help in cost savings.
3. Statistics on remote work earnings
Wondering how much you can save working remotely?
A typical office setup space involves costs, including internet connections, utilities, rent, etc.
You’ll be surprised to know that the estimated average office space cost per employee is around USD 18,000 per year.
The Global Workplace Analytics survey states that an employer can save up to USD 11,000 annually per remote worker, telecommuting half of the time.
However, remote work is a surefire way for employees to save too:
- On average, an employee can save between USD 2,500-4,000 per year by working from a home office.
- Another 2019 study by TECLA states that remote employees in the IT sector can save up to USD 7,000 in transit, food, clothing, and childcare.
Let’s also look at the impact of remote working on employee recruitment and retention.
4. Statistics on remote recruitment and employee retention
An Upwork 2019 study shows that 69% of young generation managers (out of 1000 hiring managers in the U.S.) have allowed their team members to work remotely.
Another Statista study (April 2021) states that 25% of respondents (CFOs and finance leaders) will move at least 10% of their office workers to permanent remote positions.
But, when it comes to remote employees, employee engagement is one of the primary concerns of companies.
As per Owl Lab’s survey, almost half of all the U.S. managers (49%) overseeing remote workers are concerned about employee engagement.
But why is employee engagement a concern?
Given how a lack of engagement can increase employee turnover, it certainly seems to be on some employers’ minds.
Here’re some related stats:
- As per the Flexjob survey (conducted between August and September 2020), 81% of employees would stay more loyal to their employer if offered flexible work options.
- 69% of men and 80% of women considered remote work options one of the most important factors while evaluating a new job.
- A 2020 Owl Lab survey found that 61% of British workers would be concerned if their employer implemented remote activity and productivity monitoring, while 36% would likely resign.
This brings us to the challenges of remote working…
5. Statistics around remote work challenges
Here’re some statistics on the challenges both employees and employers face during remote working:
A. A 2019 Buffer report found that unplugging after work is the biggest challenge for 22% of the global remote workforce
While the world is pacing toward the remote work trend, it’s also true that employees in a remote or hybrid work setup find it difficult to unplug from their work. They’re also more likely to work extra hours per week than on-site coworkers.
B. 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness
A remote job doesn’t always mean good employee health, increased productivity, and cost-saving. It also has a few downsides, and loneliness is one of them.
According to the 2020 State of Remote Work Report by Buffer and AngelList, loneliness is one of the biggest drawbacks of flexible work.
The numbers are significantly higher for freelancers. As per the Viking survey (June 2020), around 55% of freelancers suffer from mental health issues like loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
C. 54% of IT professionals feel remote workers are a greater security risk than office workers
With several employees dependent on public Wi-Fi and working on personal devices, a remote job is a greater threat to data security.
According to an OpenVPN study, 90% of respondents believe that remote workers pose a security risk in general.
However, as a preventive step, 93% of employers already have a formal policy in place that dictates what technology remote workers should and shouldn’t use.
D. Employers struggle to maintain their company culture in the digital space
With the share of remote workers increasing, Quantum Workplace found that companies find it hard to sustain their work culture digitally.
As a result, 68% of the U.S. workforce feels that an employee should come to the office thrice per week to maintain the company culture (PwC study, Jan 2021).
Now that you know the remote work statistics that prevailed in 2021, let’s look at the remote work trend going forward.
6. Remote work trends to watch in 2022
Here are some of the remote work trends to look out for in the coming years:
A. By 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers
The 2019 Upwork report states that younger gen managers already have team members who are allowed to work remotely. Also, millennials and Gen Z workers would make up 58% of the workforce by 2028.
Additionally, compared to baby boomers, 28% of younger gen managers (hiring managers) are more likely to utilize remote workers.
Moreover, younger gen managers are 50% more likely to hire freelancers to fill skills gaps within their organization.
B. 97.6% of remote workers would like to continue working remotely to some extent
Clearly, remote work is no more a trend but a work culture that’s here to stay.
According to Buffer.com’s 2021 survey, most respondents would opt for remote working at least for some time, and 97% would recommend remote work to others.
Moreover, Upwork states that U.S. hiring managers (surveyed between Oct-Nov 2020) expect 22.9% of workers to be remote going forward.
Supporting this trend, a Gartner CFO survey (March 2020) reveals that 74% of the respondents plan to permanently shift some workers to a remote setup.
Moreover, flexible working and improved productivity will continue to be the most lucrative perks of remote work.
C. Employers plan to reduce office space in the coming years
A McKinsey survey found that office space managers expect a 36% increase in working hours outside their offices after the Coronavirus pandemic.
This means that having a remote work option would require lesser office space.
Interestingly, AT&T reported saving almost USD 30 million a year in real estate alone from their telework initiative, and several companies are already planning to reduce physical workspace expenses.
Moreover, organizations would need to be wired for a hybrid work model, which means employers need to upgrade their video technology (currently, only 38% are doing so) and have employee management tools in place.
From the remote work statistics covered above, it’s evident that remote work is still a viable option.
Employees can save money and time by working from home, have a better work life balance, improved mental health, and greater job satisfaction.
On the other hand, employers can save on office space costs, provide a flexible schedule for a happier workforce, and see employee productivity skyrocket.
Clearly, the remote work trend is the new normal and is here to stay for all good reasons.
And if you plan to shift to remote or hybrid work, investing in employee productivity tools like Time Doctor can go a long way.