15 key remote work statistics for 2022
Remote working enjoyed an unprecedented boom in 2020. But even though our working lives have long-since returned to normal, working from home has stuck around. That's why we've put together a remote work stats 2022 list to keep you informed!
As many have predicted, the normalisation of remote work during the pandemic has completely altered how businesses manage their employees. And if you're a frequent reader of the Weekly10 blog, you know we champion that.
During COVID's peak, we talked a lot about remote working; us and half the internet. But that's only because there's genuinely been so much to say.
The demand for remote work
1: People with remote work options want to keep them
Arguably the most important point on our Remote work stats 2022 list is Buffer's annual series of State of Remote Work reports. Their most recent report surveyed over 2,000 remote workers in their research. They found that 97% of respondents said they wanted to keep working remotely to at least some extent for the rest of their careers. An identical percentage would also recommend working remotely to others.
More people worked remotely than ever during the pandemic out of total necessity. And it's fair to say that a lot of people seem to have developed a taste for it. So, while remote work was once a fringe benefit reserved for the most tenured of employees, it's quickly become a basic expectation.
2: Just under a third of the UK's workforce is working remotely
Although WFH arrangements have stuck around post-lockdown, rates have fallen. In 2022, 30% of UK professionals have been working remotely at least once a week. 8% didn't enter the office at all in 2021, and 1 in 5 UK employees wants to be remote full-time.
During the height of the pandemic, nearly half the UK workforce was working remotely. An ONS Opinions and Lifestyles survey showed that, from the 9th to the 20th of April, 45% of UK adults had spent at least some time in remote work. Then there's the Businesses Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS). This survey put the percentage at 48% from the 23rd of March to the 5th of April.
3: Interest in remote work isn't new
We pointed this out in the introduction, but the demand for remote work wasn't sparked by calls for social distancing.
Go on and look back a few years. You'll find plenty of publications, including Forbes and The New York Times, talking about rising interest in telecommuting.
Even in 1998, Harvard Business Review covered the topic, despite technology not enabling remote workers in nearly the same way. One of the key arguments of our Remote work stats 2022 list may be that all of this should have happened sooner. But we have to admit, a list of early 2000's stats wouldn't look quite so optimistic.
The relationship between businesses and remote work
4: Telecommuting can cut office costs dramatically
It makes sense that you would save some money on office costs where possible. And obviously, letting staff work some of their hours remotely is one way to do that. But you might be surprised at just how much you could save.
The US group Global Workplace Analytics has some figures on this. They estimate that "typical" employers could save an average of $11,000 per employee working remotely part-time. In 2018, this reduction in overhead costs saved US companies approximately $5 billion.
5: Companies offering remote options have lower turnover
Much like Buffer, Owl Labs publishes their own annual "State of Remote Work" reports. In 2021, they found that almost 1 in 4 employees would quit their job if they were unable to keep working remotely. This fell to around 1 in 3 for employees who specifically worked from home during the pandemic.
56% would either quit or look for new work on the sly. And even if you don't lose employees physically, they may check out mentally. 48% would stay in their current role but would be unwilling to offer discretionary effort.
6: Over a third of businesses still keep their employees in the office full-time
Unlike the surveys we just mentioned, the State of Remote Work survey published in 2018 was performed globally. The fact that many remote work stats in 2022 focus on specific countries makes this one especially important. Owl Lab's report shows that just a couple of years ago, 44% of employers didn't give any employees the option to work remotely ever. This may be because some managers are reluctant to change up their management style.
The relationship between employees and remote work
7: The vast majority of employees rate themselves equally (or more) productive working remotely
One major point of corporate anxiety held remote work back for the longest time: The fear of slacking. Employers worry that, without the watchful eye of their manager, remote workers will just spend all day watching YouTube videos and skimming social media.
But Owl Labs' findings suggest that this isn't the case, at least from the employee point-of-view. Their 2021 report asked employees who worked remotely during the pandemic to rate their productivity. They found that 90% rated themselves just as productive or better when working from home.
8: People in lockdown are took a shine to remote work
A lot of employees got their introduction to telecommuting due to the circumstances of the past couple of years. But it's been interesting to see how many have fallen in love with their home setup.
A 2020 Gallup study of US workers found that 59% of those surveyed would like to continue working remotely as much as possible once lockdowns are lifted. Of course, that's modest compared to Buffer's findings. That same year, Buffer found 98% of respondents wanted to work remotely to at least some extent for the rest of their careers. But even if we take Gallup's results as a more conservative estimate, that's still the majority of your people!
9: Remote work improves accessibility for people with disabilities
To many of us, the commute to work is an inconvenience; the first little obstacle of the day before we get the ball rolling. But to others, it can be an unassailable barrier.
People with disabilities or health conditions can find it complicated and physically demanding to travel.
An article from the beginning of April 2020 by Policy Connect highlights how current events have brought the conversation about remote work for disabled people to the fore.
According to GitLab's 2020 Global Remote Work Report, 14% of remote workers surveyed had a disability or chronic illness. 83% of disabled respondents stated that remote work enables them to contribute to the workforce.
10: It also means people with family obligations can have careers
Those caring for children or other vulnerable people can be unable to commit to spending all day at a specific location. GitLab's report also found that 34% of respondents ranked being able to care for a family member as the top benefit of their remote work.
Women's careers are disproportionately then ones affected by parenthood. For example, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that in the US, 80% of men are currently in the labour market, versus 64% of women.
11: Remote work can improve wellbeing by providing flexibility
It goes without saying that any job which cuts out the morning commute is like a breath of fresh air. Research by Flexjobs found that that 97% of respondents stated having a more flexible job 'would have a "huge" or "positive" impact on their quality of life.'
The most common reason respondents gave for seeking flexible work was work/life balance (76%).
12: But work/life balance can suffer if remote work is badly implemented
While remote work certainly has a lot going for it, it also comes with its own set of challenges.
Being at home and choosing when to work can blur the lines a bit. It's important for employees to properly organise their tasks and choose a time to step away from their workspace for the day.
In 2017, 41% of surveyed workers reported high levels of stress compared to only a quarter of office workers, according to a UN report. And more recent findings point to this issue as well.
Remember the 2021 Owl Labs report we mentioned? It found that 55% of employees reported working more hours at home than they would in the office. 30% of men and 21% of women reported working at least two extra hours every day.
This sort of thing generally stems from a sense of guilt that's put upon remote workers. Remote staff are sometimes viewed as being less committed than office-based peers. This sense of career FOMO results in people working longer hours to compensate. But despite this, only 11% of managers are concerned about burnout.
13: Remote employees can feel often isolated from their co-workers
It can be difficult to feel connected to co-workers when you rarely see them, and it's all too easy to worry about what people are saying about you around the office. In Buffer's 2022 State of Remote Work report, 24% reported struggling with loneliness. On top of that, 17% reported difficulties communicating and collaborating with others.
Of course, the isolation of remote work isn't a new revelation by any means. Back in 2017, a study of 11,000 workers published in Harvard Business Review found that remote workers often feel shunned and left out by their peers. There's a large body of evidence showing that it's a common issue. So, when managing remote teams, it's imperative to establish and maintain their connection to the rest of the organisation.
14: Before now, less than a third of UK workers had telecommuting experience
Despite the demand for remote work and other forms of flexible working arrangements, information released by the Office for National Statistics shows that only 30% of UK workers had ever worked from home in 2019. Now that figure has risen substantially, it's more important than ever for employees to have access to proper guides of best practice.
15: Non-remote and full-time remote workers have similar levels of engagement
This isn't purely another point in remote work's column. According to research by Gallup, full-time remote workers are, on average, 30% engaged. This is the same level of engagement attributed to employees who have never worked remotely. This suggests that the two extremes have more in common than seems apparent.
Needing more information on remote work best practices and top tips?
So those are all the remote working stats in 2022 you need to know. Remembering all of that can be a real headache, but if you're still hungry for more telecommuting knowledge, why not check out our list of top tools and services for remote workers?