Remote Work

30+ Key Remote Work Statistics for 2021 and What They Mean for Businesses

Christelle Delli
Flat vector illustration of person at desk using computer for video call

Are you wondering whether your business should offer long-term, flexible work arrangements post-COVID?

The pandemic has forced millions of companies worldwide to adopt a remote work model. However, remote working has grown by a staggering 400% over the last ten years, highlighting a long-term trend rather than a fad or short-term change. 

As a result, the pandemic has merely accelerated a shift already in the making.

In fact, remote working is such a hot topic that we decided to compile 30+ remote work statistics for 2021 and detail what they mean for businesses moving forward.

And even though you don’t have to offer flexible working arrangements to your employees, these stats might convince you to do otherwise.

1. 65% of employees want to be full-time remote workers in the post-COVID-19 era

Many office workers are now eager to continue working from home full-time after enjoying the flexibility and freedom of working remotely during the pandemic. Not having to commute, saving money on food and transport, and being able to work from anywhere are some of the main perks employees enjoy about remote working. 

Businesses adopting a full-time remote working model could therefore secure highly qualified employees in the battle for talent.

2. 40% of remote employees find switching off after working hours challenging

Sure, one of the main reasons why employees want to work from home is to achieve a better work-life balance. For instance, no more commuting means more time spent with loved ones. Yet, paradoxically, one of the top things 40% of remote workers struggle with is switching off after working hours. 

Working from home tends to blur the boundaries between professional and personal time and can lead to burnout and impact family life. 

As a result, leadership needs to encourage employees to switch off at the end of the day to promote better work-life balance and increase productivity.

3. 20% of remote workers feel lonely

It’s a fact, working remotely involves working alone or at least not being physically surrounded by a team. This means spending most of the day alone with a laptop, which can be quite daunting for some employees. Unfortunately, this can lead to anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health struggles. That’s why, as remote working will likely continue in the future driven by the advancements in technology, a need for a better work-life balance, and the rise of freelancing, companies need to implement specific strategies to address loneliness.

Some easy ways to fulfill employees’ social needs include organizing virtual office parties and regular one-on-one catch-ups.

4. 27% of workers would be willing to take a 10% to 20% pay cut to work remotely full-time 

This might sound surprising, yet a significant portion of workers would rather trade the numbers on their paycheck for the flexibility to work from anywhere! More specifically, yearning to find a better work-life balance, office workers increasingly value the ability to control where, when, and how they work over their paychecks.

5. Remote workers are up to 40% more productive than their in-office counterparts.

Numerous studies have shown the correlation between working from home and increased productivity. While it might sound hard to believe for upper management, office workers tend to perform better and get more done in a day working from home than in an office setting. Some of the main reasons include eliminating lengthy in-person meetings, colleague distractions, and commuting time. 

However, a positive team atmosphere also plays a huge role in remote workers’ engagement, happiness, and productivity, highlighting the importance for businesses to build a great company culture despite a remote work setting.

6. Remote working leads to a 56% reduction in absenteeism

Research has shown that remote workers are happier and tend to stay in their job for longer as long as they’re provided with the necessary tools to perform their job. And happy employees take fewer sick days, leading to increased productivity overall. 

Additionally, remote employees have a higher sense of loyalty due to the increased flexibility and are less inclined to take time off.

7. 94% of workers would like to work some of the time remotely, for the rest of their career

This is probably one of the most powerful stats of this article, emphasizing the increasing importance for businesses to offer work-from-home options. 

The pandemic has forced many companies to quickly adjust and adopt digital tools to allow employees to work and collaborate remotely. And now that systems are in place, working from home is rapidly becoming the new standard and a no-brainer for employees seeking to achieve a better work-life balance. 

8. The average employee can save up to $4,000 a year by working remotely

Not only does working from home provide workers with increased flexibility in terms of working hours and working location, but it can also save them up to a whopping $4,000 a year

Of course, this depends on the location and lifestyle choices but commuting every day, eating out, and investing in decent work outfits can quickly add up. Besides, for workers with children, working remotely allows them to save on after-school care.

9. 64% of recruiters say that including a work-from-home option in their job description helps them find high-quality talent

Working from home is becoming an in-demand benefit for high-quality talent seeking new opportunities. While high-performing individuals are career and goal-driven, they’re also seeking a better work-life balance and enhanced wellbeing.

That’s why offering a full-time, or part-time remote working option will appeal to top candidates and help win them over. Besides, remote working also allows companies to source high-quality candidates from different geographic locations.

10. 16% of global companies exclusively hire remote workers

Even though 44% of global companies don’t allow employees to work from home, the trend is clearly shifting, with 16% of companies exclusively hiring remote workers. And these businesses include some major players such as Facebook, Dropbox, Atlassian, or Coinbase, now allowing employees to work from home permanently if they wish. 

However, for now, the hybrid model where employees are based on-site a few days a week and work from home a few days a week is the most popular, driven by giants such as Amazon, Adobe, or Microsoft.

11. By 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers

48% of younger managers, including millennials and early Gen Z, hold senior management or higher executive positions. And this number is expected to grow in the coming years to reach 58% in 2028, establishing the younger generations’ influence on workforce planning. 

Millennials and Gen Z value flexibility and will most likely rethink and reshape the way we work, allowing for greater freedom and more remote work in the future.

12. Companies allowing remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover

Since remote work is an in-demand benefit, it’s not surprising that businesses allowing employees to work from home a few days a week or permanently experience a 25% lower employee turnover than companies that don’t offer flexible working arrangements. 

This powerful stat shows a clear link between remote working and increased employee job satisfaction and loyalty.

13. 44% of employees who have unlimited vacation options only take two to three weeks annually

Remember how we told you remote working could significantly boost employee’s productivity?

Part of the reason is that almost half of remote workers choose to take three weeks or less when offered unlimited vacation. That’s because they have more control over their schedule and can adapt it to their individual needs, experiencing less stress and needing less time off.

14. 21% of workers are ready to give up some of their vacation time to have flexible working arrangements

Similar to the previous stat, flexible working arrangements are so highly valued these days that 21% of employees would gladly trade some of their vacation time for a job that allows remote working.

15. 64% of workers would choose a permanent work-from-home option over a $30,000 pay raise

Long gone are the days when financial benefits were the best way to drive employees’ motivation. In 2021, office workers are all about a healthier lifestyle. And remote working is widely seen as a way to achieve this goal. 

Indeed, remote employees have more flexibility around their work schedules, allowing them to exercise and look after their diets better. And the good news for companies is that healthier employees are usually more productive.

Besides, remote working also eliminates stress-inducing activities such as commuting and gives individuals the opportunity to spend more quality time with their loved ones. This, in turn, improves their mental health, overall wellbeing, and productivity.  

16. 76% of workers prefer to avoid the office when they need to concentrate on a project

Over two-thirds of office workers consider the office as a place of distractions. Colleague interruptions can break the flow, affect individuals’ ability to focus, and stump their creative juices. And this can prevent employees from finishing their project on time or lead to mistakes and sub-quality work. 

On the other hand, working from home provides workers with a quieter space far from impromptu conversations, chatty co-workers, and office background noise. This allows for more productive hours and less stress trying to meet deadlines.

17. Companies that allow work from home increase their profit by $2,000 per remote employee on average

Offering flexible working arrangements is a fantastic way to attract top talent and boost employees’ productivity. It also allows businesses to reduce their turnover and therefore recruitment and training-related expenses. And for all these reasons, studies found that companies offering remote working options are increasing their profit by up to $2,000 a year on average per remote worker. 

Now, depending on the size of the team, this can quickly add up and represent a considerable increase to the bottom line. 

18. 49% of millennials and Gen Z would consider quitting their job if their employers didn’t offer flexible work arrangements

Driven by the need for flexible hours, a better work-life balance, less stress, and the appeal of lower living costs, millennials and Gen Z expect companies to offer flexibility

As a result, they want to work from home part-time or permanently and are ready to jump ship to obtain it. And as these two age groups represent an increasing part of the workforce, businesses looking to secure top talent and limit employee turnover need to get onboard.

19. Remote working reduces time spent in meetings by 35% 

A study revealed that mid-level managers spend approximately 35% of their time in in-person meetings. Now, even though some meetings are necessary, employees believe that 37% of them are unproductive, and a whopping 91% of workers even report daydreaming during meetings.

However, virtual meetings tend to be shorter and more straightforward, allowing employees to focus on value-added tasks instead of lengthy meetings. 

20. 80% of remote workers experience less work-related stress

Eight telecommuters out of ten report experiencing less stress when working remotely. That’s because when working from home, employees aren’t involved in office politics and experience fewer interruptions and distractions. Additionally, they don’t have to commute and can enjoy a more comfortable and personalized working space. 

And these factors all make for a more enjoyable and less stressful working experience. 

21. 67% of employees complain that they spend too much time in meetings

In 2021, meeting fatigue is real and can lead to decreased productivity and engagement. 

In a recent study, 67% of office workers reported that they felt like they were spending too much time in meetings. They also mentioned the negative impact lengthy and frequent meetings have on their productivity and energy levels. 

22. A flexible schedule is the main benefit of working remotely for 32% of employees 

Flexible schedules are no longer reserved for freelancers and independent contractors. In fact, in 2021, over 57% of employers allow a certain level of autonomy in how their employees organize their working schedules. 

For 32% of employees, the ability to organize their working day around their personal needs and commitments represents the number one benefit of working remotely. Being able to work from anywhere and not having to commute are the two other top benefits employees enjoy in a remote working setting. 

23. For 11% of office workers, the biggest benefit of remote working is the ability to spend time with family

What if we told you that the average American worker spends over 19 days a year commuting?

By eliminating the need to commute, remote working allows individuals to spend more time with their loved ones. And this is something 11% of office workers value above all.

So, as a business, promoting flexible work arrangements is a fantastic way to make a company family-friendly and attract highly qualified individuals that are also parents or caring for a loved one.

 24. 78% of remote workers have at least a college degree, and 32% are manager level and up

One of the most common myths about remote workers is that they aren’t educated, or at least not as much as their office counterparts. Well, nothing could be further from the truth!

78% of teleworkers have at least a college degree, and 32% hold strategic management positions. 

In 2021, highly educated individuals value flexible hours and a greater work-life balance. They understand productivity and flexibility go hand in hand. And they’re determined to eliminate time-wasting activities such as commuting or lengthy meetings for a less stressful lifestyle.

This statistic is of major importance as it shows that well-educated employees value companies offering remote work.

25. Remote workers can save companies up to $11,000 a year

A recent study has highlighted a staggering fact for businesses; companies allowing workers to work remotely part-time could save up to $11,000 a year!

These savings stem from reducing office space, enhanced employee happiness and productivity, and lower absenteeism and turnover. 

26. Small businesses are twice as likely to hire remote workers

As mentioned in the previous point, companies can save up to $11,000 a year per employee when allowing work from home. 

So, it’s no surprise that the remote working model is particularly appealing to small businesses. 

The reduction in costs allows them to reallocate the extra budget towards value added initiatives. Some of them include marketing and advertising, developing new products or services, and growing their teams. 

27. 70% of managers see an improvement in their team’s performance with remote working 

When provided with the right tools, resources, and support, managers observe better performance from their work from home teams. 

However, remote management remains a challenge for some leaders and should be an area of focus for businesses. For more information on managing a team remotely, check out our latest guide. 

28. Employees gain 35 minutes a day with remote working

Distractions are constant in the office. And whether it’s background office noise, colleague interruptions, coffee breaks, or lengthy in-person meetings, these distractions can significantly reduce workplace productivity.

By eliminating these time-consuming distractions, remote employees report being able to work productively for an extra 35 minutes a day. It might not seem like a lot, but this represents two additional days a month per employee! 

Most employees can better focus on projects and value-added tasks at home as they enjoy a more private and quieter space.

So, this is a powerful benefit of remote working for companies’ bottom line. However, the idea is not to encourage employees to stay away from the team environment. Instead, management should promote meaningful interactions and build a strong company culture for their remote teams.

29. Managers believe that 26.7% of the US workforce will be working remotely full-time by the end of 2021

Now, that’s a significant increase compared to the 12.3% of US remote workers before the pandemic. This means that even though offices are starting to open up again, over a quarter of employees will continue to work from home. 

And as discussed previously, the trend is here to stay. Managers expect this number to stabilize around 22.9% in the years to come.

30. 51% of the global knowledge workers will be remote by the end of 2021

Looking at the bigger picture, a recent Gartner study revealed that over half of the global knowledge workforce could be working remotely by the end of 2021. 

And according to the report, the US, the UK, Germany, and France will lead the way. And AI and digital collaboration tools will play a significant role in successfully facilitating this new approach to work.

31. Two-thirds of knowledge workers believe their office will disappear by 2030

The pandemic has led companies to quickly adapt to remote working. Many have invested in efficient communication tools and developed good remote management practices. 

This has allowed them to downsize offices and enjoy greater employee productivity and increased profits.

Now that they have a system in place and can see the benefits of working from home for their bottom line, many companies, like Basecamp, are already shifting to 100% remote and closing their offices.

Key Takeaway

“Office centricity is over” – Toby Lutke, CEO of Shopify”

If there is one thing to take away from all these stats is that the office-centered workplace might very well be a thing of the past, as Toby Lukte suggests.

As a business looking to grow, thrive, and expand, you need to design a new human-centered workplace. And as employees’ needs and challenges shift, so should your approach. 

Shifting to a remote working or hybrid work model will allow you to attract high-quality profiles and ensure higher employee satisfaction and happiness.

Are you considering adopting a hybrid or fully remote model? If that’s the case, we’d love to hear all about it in the comment section below.