Until a few short years ago, remote work in the United States was a relatively new concept. It was slowly becoming more common in specific industries like tech, but it was still a rare perk that only a privileged few could experience.
Most employers hesitated to experiment with remote work, contributing to its slow growth. There were questions about how it would affect productivity. Some had doubts that results would remain satisfactory. Others were reluctant to give up a certain level of control. There were just too many concerns to allow employees to work from home on a large scale.
All that changed when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Remote work was suddenly inescapable; in 2020, the number of remote workers jumped from 23% to 71%. The pandemic quickly accelerated the growth of remote work and proved that it was a viable and valuable option.
Since 2020 remote work has been steadily increasing, and it doesn't appear to be going anywhere any time soon. This article will discuss the current statistics and explore the contributing factors to the rise of remote work.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
In January 2020, the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States and spread rapidly. It instantly changed every aspect of life, triggering significant societal changes, especially in the American workforce.
Entire states shut down, social distancing and stay-at-home orders were put into place, the economy gravely declined, and many workers were furloughed or laid off. Millions of Americans contracted the virus, and some lost their lives.
Faced with the reality and fear that they could lose their jobs and lose loved ones, many people began to re-evaluate their priorities. Many realized there is more to life than their career. Employees no longer want to live to work; they want to work to live and live fully. They want employers who care about their well-being and can offer a healthy work-life balance.
At first, people were just grateful to keep their jobs, but once the economy started to improve, people started resigning to pursue better career opportunities. It's still an ongoing trend referred to as "the Great Resignation." This year, voluntary turnover is expected to jump almost 20% from an annual average of 31.9 million to 37.4 million.
According to a new Pew Research survey, 45% of workers who quit their jobs last year cited a lack of flexibility as a major reason for resigning. A huge driving factor for the desire for freedom and flexibility was the introduction of remote work.
In the beginning months of the Covid-19 Pandemic, almost everyone, except for essential workers, was forced to work from home due to safety concerns and social distancing measures. While it started with much trial and error, it was proven that remote working wasn't just possible but also productive and positive.
A few years later, remote teams were no longer considered necessary, and most workers were required to return to the office. However, many employers saw the benefits of flexible work and still offered remote work options or hybrid schedules.
Remote work has become high on the priority list of job seekers. Companies that have yet to adapt to the current workforce's needs and adopt current practices risk losing up to 39% of their workforce. Allowing employees to work from home where possible offers the flexibility and freedom that many workers seek to align with the new shift in their priorities.
A Look at the Statistics
Now that it has been almost three years since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, what is the current state of remote work?
As of June 2022, 8 in 10 employees work remotely, at least in some capacity. More specifically, 3 in 10 exclusively work remotely, 5 in 10 follow a hybrid schedule (meaning part of the week is on-site and part is from home), and 2 in 10 work only in-office.
After consistent growth over the past few years, exclusively remote jobs seem to be on the decline. The hybrid model is rapidly rising and is expected to grow from 42% to 81% by 2024. Hybrid schedules offer the perfect mix of flexibility at home and camaraderie and structure in an office space.
Flexible work is in demand. Sixty-five percent of employees report that they want to work exclusively remotely. Thirty-two percent want to work at least part of the time remotely. If neither is offered as an option, 57% of workers say they would look for a new job.
These remote work statistics show that a hybrid and remote workforce is becoming more accepted and desirable. It is a trend that is beneficial for both employers and employees, and there are many reasons why:
Remote Work Increases Productivity
Many companies have long believed that if their employees aren't seen, they're not working, or at least not working well. However, their skepticism may be off-base. In most cases, the forced shutdowns during the pandemic showed that remote employees could be trusted to continue working well at home.
In a survey of 800 employers, 94% said that productivity remained the same or rose even higher than pre-pandemic levels, even with their employees working remotely. There are a couple of significant reasons why employees have increased productivity from home:
Employees who work from home face fewer interruptions than office workers. There is no pressure to socialize with co-workers or attend unnecessary meetings. Quiet environments can help them to focus on tasks. Remote employees also are in their own homes, and many people concentrate more effectively when they are comfortable.
Fewer distractions also mean more time for working. Even with scheduled breaks, workers at home can spend more time on the job than at the office. A remote worker saves a significant amount of time each day by not commuting to their workplace. There is more time to prepare for their day, exercise, eat, and still be on time. If they want to log in to work early and put in more hours, they can do that as well.
Remote Work Leads to Happier Employees
In an Owl Labs study focusing on how remote work behaviors have changed since the pandemic, 84% of participants reported that working from home would make them happier. Happy employees are good employees, and companies thrive when their workers do. Why are remote workers happy?
Better Mental Health
When working remotely, people usually have more time and energy to improve their general wellness. They can eat balanced meals, spend time outside, or exercise. All of these contribute to their well-being and satisfaction with their life. There is also less stress than in an office environment.
Healthier Work-Life Balance
The same factors that improve mental health also promote a better work-life balance. Working from home usually allows more time spent with friends and family or finding new hobbies.
As with any work environment, burnout is still possible with remote work. The lines between work and home life can quickly become blurred, and disconnecting can be challenging. However, 58% of remote workers report less burnout at home than in the office, proving that the proper practices can prevent fatigue.
Remote Work Saves Money
Remote employees can save up to $6,000 per year working from home 2 to 3 days a week and up to $12,000 per year working remotely full-time. Much of this is due to spending less money on commuting costs. Commuting costs include gas, car maintenance, car insurance, and public transportation.
More cost-saving benefits include not having to keep their professional wardrobe regularly or update it periodically. Also, less money is spent on meals.
Companies that offer remote options to their workers also save money. These savings come from a reduced cost in office space, less turnover, fewer absences, and more productivity, resulting in more profitability.
Remote Work is Environmentally-Friendly
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), carbon pollution from transportation accounts for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. Even light-duty vehicles emit significant carbon during a commute twice a day.
When travel restrictions were established during Covid-19, there was an improvement worldwide in pollution levels, and it was due to the reduction in transportation. More remote workers mean fewer cars on the road, and fewer cars mean less pollution.
Remote Work Attracts and Retains Employees
The Great Resignation is still ongoing, and more workers are seeking jobs where they can have more control over their schedules. Companies that embrace remote work have a competitive advantage and are more likely to find the best candidates.
Because remote work is highly sought-after by job seekers, there will be more applications by qualified and talented candidates. Having a fully remote team also widens the talent pool because it's not limited to geographical location. This gives access to even more quality applicants. If they are satisfied with their job, and remote workers often are, turnover should be minimal.
Remote Work is Permanent
Due to the increasing demand for remote work and more companies seeing its value and subsequently providing flexible schedules, it is safe to say that the future of work is remote. Based on remote work statistics, it will only keep growing.
Companies and organizations that want to stay relevant during this significant shift in the workforce must embrace it. Adopting new practices that support hybrid or remote workers can help them to thrive in the future. It's not only beneficial for employees, but it's valuable for business.
Certainly, some jobs could never make the switch to remote work. However, many careers allow for it. For example, accounting and finance, marketing, sales, or customer service are possible to do off-site.
Software development may be the most common career for remote workers. Even before the pandemic, many developers already worked remotely because of the nature of the job. The number has only increased since then, and other industries are now starting to follow suit.
Challenges with Remote Work
Remote work may be beneficial and in demand, but it's not without certain challenges. Employers must be aware of these difficulties to manage a remote team successfully.
Without proper technology tools and clear expectations, communication can be an issue. Logistics can be challenging to figure out for a company without former remote experience. Management is also an area of potential difficulty. It can be tempting to micromanage, but employers must find the right balance between trusting their employees and supervising from a distance.
Only some businesses are up to the challenge. That's why Talentcrowd is a perfect solution for working with a successful remote software development team. Talentcrowd is a hiring platform that assists businesses on their remote hiring journey and builds highly skilled outsourced teams.
Even before remote work became common, Talentcrowd was already fully operating with this approach, so they are experts in serving clients who are still navigating hybrid and remote work. Developers undergo extensive screening and training to ensure they are great to work with, and teams are hand-picked specifically for each project. Outsourcing your software development to Talentcrowd can minimize any challenges with remote teams.
The rise of remote work in the United States has been a recent trend, but it is here to stay. It's both viable and valuable. Companies that want productive, happy employees should consider allowing hybrid or remote working.
Partnering with Talentcrowd can give you immediate access to a talented, reliable tech team. With their substantial remote experience, they can help your business navigate this new approach and find the best talent for your development needs.
Since the Covid-19 Pandemic changed the world and the workforce, remote work has been proven possible and has positive impacts. It is a massive and intimidating shift from traditional workspaces, but embracing it can help employers and employees thrive.