Remote Working Statistics and Key Takeaways: 2021
Will the work-from-home (WFH) trend become the new normal or will remote work die down over the next several years? Here, we’ll examine remote working statistics from 2021 that offer an answer.
Among other things, the statistics below will tell us:
- How employees feel about remote work
- The pros and cons of working from home
- Whether remote work is here to stay
The data covered in this post can offer a window into the future of work and help both employees and employers plan for tomorrow’s work environment.
Remote working statistics and key takeaways
When it comes to remote work, most surveys come to the same general conclusions, so we’ll break down statistics by their key findings, rather than by the individual survey.
Here are some of the top takeaways presented by recent research:
Employees enjoy working remotely
Numerous studies agree that employees prefer remote work:
- 55% of employees would like to continue working remotely after the pandemic ends (PwC)
- 97.6% of full-time remote workers would like to continue working remotely at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers (Buffer)
- 97% would recommend remote work to others (Buffer)
Also, according to the Buffer survey cited above, remote workers tend to agree on the biggest benefits of telecommuting.
- 32% like the ability to have a flexible schedule
- 25% like the flexibility to work from anywhere
- 22% like not having to commute
Most of us who have had the experience of working from home can relate to these findings, so it shouldn’t be surprising that telecommuting is popular among employees. Yet remote work is not without its challenges.
Top challenges of remote work
Working from home can give us more flexibility, but it can be problematic for certain personality types, work environments, or teams.
- 27% dislike not being able to “unplug”
- 16% have difficulty collaborating and communicating
- 16% suffer from loneliness
A survey from Hive further confirms these difficulties, though its respondents did have additional challenges:
- 63% had trouble unplugging from work
- 47% reported feeling lonely or socially isolated
- 33% felt pressure to work longer
- 31% felt disconnected from their organizational goals
This last point is one worth examining carefully since it is a concern echoed by both employers and employees.
Employers and employees have differing perspectives on remote work
Unsurprisingly, employees and employers don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to the topic of telecommuting.
In some cases, they do, but in others there are wide disparities.
For instance, according to a survey by IBM:
- 74% of employers believe they are helping employees learn the skills they need to work in a new way, but only 38% of employees agree
- 80% of employers believe they are supporting the physical and emotional health of the workforce, while only 46% of employees feel the same
- 86% of employers feel they are providing clear guidelines and expectations of how the organization will work, while only 51% of employees agree
PwC has also performed research that highlights the differences between employees’ and employers’ perspectives on remote work. On many issues, there is general agreement, but not on all.
Their survey found:
- By July 2021, 75% of executives expected half the workforce to be working at the office, versus 61% of employees
- 55% of employees would like to work remotely at least 3 days a week, while 68% of executives would like employees to be in the office at least 3 days a week
- 71% of employees feel remote work has been a success, versus 83% of executives who feel the same
The topic of remote work is clearly nuanced, though overall it has been successful from the perspective of both the workforce and business leaders.
The future of work will be hybrid
Some have claimed that the future of work will be remote, while others hope that offices will return to normal after the pandemic. The truth, however, probably lies somewhere in between—namely, most companies will probably adopt a hybrid office model that combines both remote work and onsite work.
Most, if not all, surveys show that both employees and employers lean towards more flexible work arrangements:
- Less than 1 in 5 executives say they want to return to the office as it was pre-pandemic (PwC)
- 54% of office workers say they’d leave their job for one that offers flexible work time (Gallup)
- 58% of the workforce expects to be working from home at least 8 days a month (Cisco)
These findings are further underscored by McKinsey’s research. They pointed out that many jobs require at least some onsite physical presence, which would better support hybrid work models, but not fully remote models.
Only time will tell what the future holds for us.