A couple years ago, had you told an acquaintance you worked remotely, they might have thought you were living the dream. Fast forward to 2020, and that dream became a rather harsh reality, as a global pandemic forced millions of professionals into their home offices (or basements, bedrooms, and backyards). What was once an aspiration for many workers became a necessity — one that kept the lights on for many businesses and families.
At First Page, we've long been proponents of remote work (though with a little less of the dystopian doom that surrounded the last 16 months). And while stay-at-home orders and shutdowns placed an unusually heavy burden on those working from home, it also shone a light on the possibilities and benefits of remote work. Here, we offer 12 of the most impactful statistics that show that the remote lifestyle is here to stay.
As of last year, the numbers told a bit of an all-or-nothing story. The pandemic ushered in the era of remote work for many professionals, but those in service industries or essential roles experienced little change. Surprisingly, schedules that combined work-from-home with in-person work were overall higher before COVID hit. However, as employers begin to see that work can be completed efficiently and effectively from home (or anywhere else), those trends are shifting.
Hybrid work models are now growing in popularity, with many companies saying their employees will be able to work from home at least one day a week after offices re-open. The demand for hybrid work is growing as well, with 80 percent saying they expect or want to work three times per week at home.
More than three-quarters of employees who made the shift to remote work during the pandemic report being more satisfied, in spite of the challenges they've faced. They say having the option to continue working fully remote would extend this happiness and increase their satisfaction with their job and their work/life balance.
The pandemic taught us many lessons, but perhaps none were as transformational to the business world as the revelation that much of what we do in the office can be done just as easily (or even easier) at home. While the results vary depending on numerous factors, including age, income, and education level, the overall takeaway from 2020 was that, thanks to evolving technology and widespread internet access, most of our job duties can be managed out of the office.
In the same Pew study mentioned above, respondents overwhelmingly said little has changed about the way they perceive their job, what their job functions are, and how they perform them. While some noted longer hours, disconnect from coworkers, or difficulty maintaining a work-life balance, the majority said they haven't felt any impact in many of those areas.
So what do all these statistics mean for where remote work is heading in 2021 and beyond? Let's find out:
Bitten by the work-from-home bug? You're not alone. In a survey, one in two respondents said that post-COVID, once offices have re-opened, they would not return to in-person work unless a hybrid or remote work option was offered. This trend is only anticipated to grow, as job candidates make this feature one of their top criteria. In fact...
Job seekers have had their eyes opened in the last 16 months, and they now understand that opportunities to work from anywhere are available to them...if they know where to look. LinkedIn's chief economist says remote job applications have more than doubled in the last year, while companies offering remote options have grown more than four times since the pandemic began. If you're starting your remote job search, find out what you need to look for in a fully distributed company.
When the pandemic started, it was believed that younger workers would be the biggest advocates to continue working from home. Surprisingly, studies show that employees over the age of 40 are more likely to want to continue remote work. Those under the age of 40 are more susceptible to feelings of isolation and missing their coworkers. Gen Xers (many of whom spent their formative years awaiting the inevitable apocalypse) are well-suited to adapting to working from home and make up the largest WFH demographic (46 percent). Millennials, on the other hand, account for just 17 percent.
Between the cost of gas, work lunches, and other expenses, employees working from home save between $250–$500 a month. So it's no wonder that 44 percent of workers say they would consider moving or switching jobs, even if it meant a small pay cut, as long as it gave them the ability to continue working from home. This is evidence that workers have seen the value in the remote lifestyle, and they're willing to make sacrifices to continue reaping those benefits.
The shift to remote work happened in a year in which inclusion and diversity were brought to the forefront. While you might think being inclusive would be more difficult with employees spread far and wide, the numbers suggest otherwise. Ninety-seven percent of African American remote workers say they want to continue working from home, compared to 79 percent of white remote workers.
Why the disparity? Research suggests it could be partially due to the lack of need for "code-switching," or altering patterns of speech and representations of culture in order to be treated equitably. Code-switching is a burden for many minority workers, and the elimination of that burden has led to increased satisfaction in working from home. While this doesn't address the fundamental issues faced by minority workers in traditional office settings, it has shed light on critical conversations that must be had around minority experience in those settings.
In the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of talk about self-care and mental well-being. That focus got a bit lost in the day-to-day reality of surviving through a traumatic situation. However, while stress and burnout were widespread at the height of the crisis, studies now show that it may have acted as a catalyst to address the mental health needs of professionals.
From kids streaking through Zoom meetings to cat-faced attorneys at court hearings, the SNAFUs of the last year have been at times mortifying, at times hilarious, and often both. But through it all, the humanity in each of us has widely been embraced and even celebrated. In a Microsoft study, a third of remote workers say they are more comfortable being their authentic selves than they were a year ago. Forty percent say they are less embarrassed for coworkers to get a glimpse of their home lives via video conferencing, and one in six reported being vulnerable enough to cry with a coworker since the pandemic started.
While higher income, higher education-level workers have been the most likely to work remote from the get-go, there is still opportunity for growth across many sectors. For instance, the education industry ranks highly for percentage of time spent working remotely, but is far from maxing out on its potential. Across the board, there is room for growth in all industries, showing that the potential for increasing remote work opportunities is there, just waiting to be seized.
WFH isn't going anywhere but up, especially after the events of 2020. Workers have realized they can do their work effectively from home while still meeting deadlines, completing important tasks, and keeping their employers operating as well as (if not better than) before. Even as offices begin to reopen, 89 percent of remote employees say it's their preference to continue working from home.
Remote work can be rewarding, for many of the reasons listed above, and the professional landscape is moving to incorporate the lessons learned from the pandemic to improve and increase remote opportunities.
Looking for your dream remote job? It could be with us! Check out our job openings to find out if First Page is the next step in your WFH (or WFA) career!