This is an updated version of a post originally published on October 5, 2015. We’ve added new stats that reflect the remote environment in 2018 to keep this list fresh and relevant for employers and job seekers interested in remote work.
In this post, you’ll find:
- Stats about remote worker productivity and efficiency
- The health and lifestyle benefits of working remotely
- The environmental impacts of remote work
- The overall positive impact of going remote for companies
- Ideas and stats about the future of remote work
As a workplace phenomenon, flexible jobs have come under quite a bit of scrutiny from academics, news organizations, businesses, and government agencies—all looking to come up with stats about remote work and insight into how job flexibility impacts the marketplace.
The result? A wealth of studies, news articles, and corporate white papers that offer an array of amazing stats about remote work and the many benefits telecommuting offers to employers and workers alike.
We’ve culled through some of the data to offer several of the most interesting stats about remote work, as seen below:
1. Remote work can increase worker productivity.
It’s hard to dispute: companies and at-home employees alike say remote work is a boon to productivity. Distractions like water cooler gossip, impromptu meetings, and loud colleagues are a non-issue, according to an infographic based on data from SurePayroll, a web-based payroll provider for small businesses. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.” What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.
2. It drives employee efficiency.
Fewer distractions (for the disciplined remote worker) can lead to higher efficiency, a report from ConnectSolutions concluded. The numbers: some 30% said that telecommuting allowed them to accomplish more in less time, while 24% of those surveyed said they were able to accomplish more in about the same amount of time.
3. It lowers stress and boosts morale.
Stats about remote work show that 82% of telecommuters reported lower stress levels, according to one study, and that’s a good thing not only for remote workers, but for the companies that employ them. The study by PGI, a leading provider of software services, found that 80% of workers reported higher morale when working from home, while 69% reported lower absenteeism.
4. It decreases real estate costs and overhead.
Companies of all sizes report significant decreases in operating costs, remote work stats show. Two examples from big companies, according to a Forbes magazine report: Aetna (where some 14,500 of 35,000 employees don’t have an “in-office” desk) shed 2.7 million square feet of office space, saving $78 million. American Express reported annual savings of $10 million to $15 million thanks to its remote work options.
5. It often leads to greater employee engagement.
It might seem counterintuitive, but remote workers are often more engaged with colleagues and supervisors than in-office workers, Harvard Business Review concluded. The plethora of technological tools to help workers stay connected makes the difference—in fact, a separate study found that 87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.
6. It positively impacts the environment.
For many employers, going green is a big incentive in the shift toward remote work. In fact, studies show that employers who have embraced telecommuting have helped reduce their carbon footprint. In 2013, annual fuel consumption decreased by 680 million gallons, about 0.5% of the nation’s gas consumption, one study found.
7. It meets demands of younger workers.
A robust 68% of job seekers who are millennials said an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in specific employers, according to a survey by AfterCollege, a career network for college students and recent grads. “Policies that cultivate a flexible, fun, and casual work environment have a positive impact” on young people’s interest in specific employers, the survey found.
8. It’s the future of work.
Just a few short years ago, working from home may have seemed out of reach across some industries. Today, not so much. In 2015, 23% of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, up from 19% in 2003, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. A New York Times report also noted that telecommuting is fast on the rise.
9. It’s a global phenomenon.
Worldwide, more than 50% of people who telecommute part-time said they wanted to increase their remote hours. Additionally, 79% of knowledge workers in a global survey by PGI said they work from home, and 60% of remote workers in the survey said that if they could, they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate.
10. There’s a growing digital nomad population.
Over the past decade, a rising number of young professionals, primarily from the United States and Europe, have leveraged the use of technology to work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, while a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.
11. Employees are working remotely more often.
Americans who telecommute for work are doing so for increased amounts of time. According to a Gallup survey, the number of workers who work one day or less from home shrank from 34% to 25% between 2012 and 2016. In the same time period, the number of people working remotely four or five days a week rose from 24% to 31%. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43% of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely last year, up from 39% in 2012.
12. It keeps older workers in the workforce longer.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans over the age of 64 are working more than any other time since the turn of the century. According to a survey by the AARP, 74% of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34% would like to work from home. Steadily increasing life expectancies and inadequate retirement savings have forced many Americans in this age group to delay retirement. Others choose to work into their 70s and beyond to stay active and engaged in their communities.
13. Remote work may benefit your marriage.
A recent study at Manchester Metropolitan University in the U.K. found that married people who work from home are happier than traditional workers. The conclusion that working at home could make you happier if you’re married is based in part on housework and home-based chores. Married remote workers reported feeling there was a fairer and more gender-neutral division of work done around the house. The study was based on responses from thousands of workers based in Switzerland and the U.K. The study found that “working from home made married couples perceivably happier, although there was no effect on the love life of single employees in the U.K.”
14. Working from home is not a detriment to productivity or employee engagement.
A recent study on “the state of remote work” by TINYpulse and Owl Labs found that remote employees have “slightly higher levels of investment in their work,” and benefit from “clearer boundaries and work habits” needed to be successful. The data, based on responses from 1,097 workers across the U.S., reinforces findings from previous research showing that people who work from home are fully engaged with fellow team members, and often are more productive.
15. More companies are embracing “remote teams.”
Companies are increasingly embracing “remote, agile” teams to complete projects and meet deadlines, according to a study by the freelancing website Upwork. The survey of more than 1,000 U.S.-based managers found that the continuing “skills gap” is driving the trend toward hiring more virtual workers. Still, many of those companies have yet to implement a formal remote work policy, the study concluded.
16. Flex workers may lack adequate tools to work from home in inclement weather.
Reflecting the global reach of remote work, a survey in Ireland found that about two-thirds of the country’s workers weren’t adequately equipped to work effectively from home on snow days. The survey by Ricoh Ireland, conducted in collaboration with TechPro magazine, was based on questions put to IT professionals at more than 75 organizations across Ireland. Failing to offer technological support that supports working from home when needed can be detrimental to a company’s bottom line, the survey found.
17. Hiring managers expect more full-time staff to work remotely over the next 10 years.
In a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, 55% agree that remote work among full-time employees is more common now, and say they expect up to 38% of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade.
Jacquelyn Smith contributed to this post.
Originally published October 5, 2015. Updated March 2017 and November 2018.
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