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 a few 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 percent said that telecommuting allowed them to accomplish more in less time, while 24 percent 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 percent 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 percent of workers reported higher morale when working from home, while 69 percent reported lower absenteeism.
4. It reduces employee turnover.
Offering remote work options reduced employee turnover, and “job attrition rates fell by over 50 percent,” according to a study published by Stanford University. The report, based on stats about remote work from a China-based firm listed on NASDAQ with 16,000 employees, described the WFH, or work-from-home, arrangement as “highly profitable” for the company.
5. 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.
6. 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 percent of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.
7. 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 percent of the nation’s gas consumption, one study found.
8. It meets demands of younger workers.
A robust 68 percent 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.
9. 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 percent of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, up from 19 percent in 2003, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. A New York Times report also noted that telecommuting is fast on the rise.
10. It’s a global phenomenon.
Worldwide, more than 50 percent of people who telecommute part-time said they wanted to increase their remote hours. Additionally, 79 percent of knowledge workers in a global survey by PGI said they work from home, and 60 percent 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.
March, 2017 Update: 4 Bonus Stats
1. 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 percent of respondents have already worked virtually.
2. It’s driving workplace transformation.
According to a forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum, work flexibility, including telework, is “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace.” A Gallup poll found that 37 percent of American workers have worked virtually in their careers, a four-fold increase since 1995.
3. 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 percent to 25 percent between 2012 and 2016. In the same time period, the number of people working remotely four or five days a week rose from 24 percent to 31 percent. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43 percent of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely last year, up from 39 percent in 2012.
4. 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 percent of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34 percent 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.
Originally published October 5, 2015. Updated March, 2017.