While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted life in countless ways, some of the most obvious and most significant effects involve changes to the way businesses operate.
These changes are apparent today, a year into the pandemic. But the effects are also expected to permanently alter the way we work.
And the statistics are eye-opening.
For example, a 2020 survey revealed that the ability to work from home is so important today that 27% of employees would be willing to take a 10-20% pay cut just to be able to work remotely.
The same survey showed that 81% of workers said they would be more loyal to an employer that offered flexible working options.
And while the pandemic has forced companies to adapt to remote work, many of them have observed significant benefits as a result. In fact, a 2020 study conducted by Upwork found that 70% of hiring managers believe a reduction in non-essential meetings has increased productivity.
That shouldn’t be surprising since other research has shown that businesses lose $600 billion each year due to workplace distractions.
Simply put, the latest data shows an obvious shift in attitude about remote work between the start of the pandemic and today.
In this article, we’ll talk about what that means and dig into some of the most compelling statistics.
Stat #1: Employees Who Work At Home At Occasionally
Stat #2: Full-Time Work At Home Employees
Stat #3: Companies That Allow Remote Work
Stat #4: Projected Full-Time Work At Home Employees By 2025
Stat #5: People Who Want To Work From Home
#1: Employees Who Work At Home At Occasionally
Before: In 2016, 43% of the workforce worked from home occasionally.
After: In 2021, 64% of the workforce worked from home occasionally.
When we classify different types of jobs, we often think of jobs as being either remote (where the employee can work from home or anywhere else) or traditional (where the employee works in an office or other set location).
But many jobs fall somewhere in between. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 43% of employees worked from home at least occasionally. This includes employees who typically work alongside other co-workers but are able to work remotely sometimes.
A January 2021 study found that number increased to 64% during the pandemic.
Interestingly, the 2016 study showed a noticeable increase over the 39% of employees that worked from home at least occasionally during a similar 2012 study.
This was a trend that was already increasing, and the pandemic significantly accelerated that progress as more companies have gone to full or partial remote work.
In an attempt to maintain social distancing within an office, many companies have certain staff members working remotely every day (or on certain days of the week) in order to reduce the number of people in the office.
#2: Full-Time Work At Home Employees
Before: 5.2% of the workforce worked from home full-time in 2017.
After: 42% of the workforce worked from home full-time during the pandemic.
A 2017 study found that 5.2% of Americans worked from home full-time. In contrast, a study conducted by Stanford University in June of 2020 found that 42% of the labor force was working from home full-time — a 700% increase over the pre-pandemic numbers.
This study was conducted during the peak of the pandemic, and the number of employees working from home full-time is likely to decrease after the pandemic is over.
However, the figures illustrate the massive and unprecedented shift in working behavior spurred by COVID-19.
A recent Gartner survey of company leaders found that 47% of companies will allow employees to work from home full-time going forward, and 78% agreed that remote work is here to stay.
Clearly, the pandemic represents a turning point that will have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on the way work is done. Those who are seeking remote jobs should have far more opportunities in the future compared to the pre-pandemic job market.
#3: Companies That Allow Remote Work
Before: Prior to the pandemic, 69% of companies allowed employees to work from home at least some of the time.
After: In July 2020, 80% of company leaders surveyed said they would allow employees to work from home at least part-time after the pandemic is over.
Remote work is becoming very commonplace, even for employees who do the majority of their work from a traditional office.
A 2019 study found that 69% of companies allowed employees to work from home at least some of the time. In contrast, a 2020 study showed that 80% of companies plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time going forward.
That 11% shift represents a sizable increase from studies that were conducted just one year apart.
The 2020 study also showed that 43% of companies plan to offer flex days, and 42% plan to offer flex hours.
Overall, these statistics indicate that the working arrangement for many employees will feature greater flexibility than ever before.
#4: Projected Full-Time Work At Home Employees By 2025
Before: 19.4 million Americans worked remotely prior to the pandemic.
After: By 2025, that number is expected to nearly double to 36.2 million.
A 2020 study conducted by Upwork found that the number of full-time work at home employees is expected to increase by a staggering 87% over the next five years.
Note: The study covers all remote workers, including freelancers, independent contractors and employees.
For many people, this opens up possibilities to work for companies outside of their local area and decreases the need to live in specific locations due to job availability.
In fact, a 2020 study found that between 14 and 23 million Americans plan to move as a result of remote work opportunities (primarily out of urban areas).
#5. People Who Want To Work From Home
Before: 82% of employees wanted some form of remote work.
After: 96% of employees wanted some form of remote work.
The desire to work from home is nothing new, but it’s become more widespread as a result of the pandemic. A 2019 study by LinkedIn found that 82% of employees wanted to work from home at least one day per week.
A similar survey conducted in 2020 by FlexJobs found that 96% of employees want some form of remote work after the pandemic. That includes 65% who prefer full-time remote work and 31% who want a hybrid environment that combines remote work and on-location work.
While the 2019 study showed that most workers want some level of remote work, the 14% jump in the span of just one year is noteworthy.
With only 4% of workers now preferring to be on-site full-time, it’s obvious that the pandemic has led to an important shift in the feelings people have about going to work outside the home.
Work From Home Stats Summary
The statistics shared in this article lead to a few clear conclusions.
- Employees’ interest in remote work has increased dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Remote work opportunities are more common now than they were before the onset of the pandemic, and most companies expect this trend to continue after the pandemic subsides.
- Businesses are seeing real benefits from offering remote and flex work. Most of them are not just doing it simply because they are forced into it.
Remote work is here to stay. That’s good news for employees and employers alike. Most businesses have been able to adapt quickly and still function despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19. The businesses that fail to adapt are likely to struggle in the environment that becomes the new normal.