Remote work statistics for 2020Reading Time: 6 minutes
Remote working has had an unprecedented boom in recent months, even relative to the already high demand for it before lockdowns went into effect across the globe.
It wouldn’t be surprising if this permanently alters the way many businesses organise their employee structures – and if you’re a frequent reader of the Weekly10 blog, you know we’d champion that.
We’ve talked a lot about remote working recently; us and half the internet. But that’s only because there’s genuinely so much to say.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to cut to the chase and give you a rundown of some of the key remote work stats for 2020.
The demand for remote work
1: People with remote work options want to keep them:
Buffer’s 2019 annual “The State of Remote Work” report surveyed 2,500 remote workers found that 99% of respondents said they wanted to keep working remotely to at least some extent for the rest of their careers.
With more people now working remotely than ever out of total necessity, it’s fair to say that a lot of people could develop a taste for it.
2: Almost half of the UK’s workforce is working remotely:
Two surveys by the Office for National Statistics give an indication of how many people in the UK are working remotely in the face of COVID-19. Their Opinions and Lifestyles survey found that from the 9th to the 20th of April, 45% of UK adults had spent at least some of their time working remotely.
Similarly, the Businesses Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) 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.
Even in 1998, Harvard Business Review covered the topic, despite technology not enabling remote workers in nearly the same way.
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 by letting staff work some of their hours remotely. But you might be surprised at just how much you could save.
The US group Global Workplace Analytics estimates 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:
Owl Labs publishes annual “State of Remote Work” reports. Their 2017 US survey found that companies which offered remote work had on average 25% less turnover than those which didn’t.
More recently, their 2019 US survey found that 74% of respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less likely to leave their employer.
6: The US has really embraced remote work:
In 2017, Owl Labs found that 85% of respondents worked for businesses that offered remote work. But what’s really surprising is that nearly 16% worked for companies which were entirely remote.
7: But nearly half of businesses worldwide haven’t been offering any remote work options:
Unlike the surveys we just mentioned, the State of Remote Work survey published in 2018 was performed globally. 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.
The relationship between employees and remote work
8: People in lockdown are taking a shine to remote work:
With many employees getting their introduction to telecommuting due to current circumstances, it’s interesting to see how many are falling in love with their home setup.
A 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.
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 this year 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.
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.
A study of 11,000 workers published in Harvard Business Review found that remote workers often feel shunned and left out by their peers. 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?
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?