50+ Surprising Statistics That Show

How Remote Work

Has Changed Us

The remote work after effects of 2020’s massive shift to working from home will be long lasting. But have they turned out how we all expected? Not entirely.

As millions of people around the world were given the ‘WFH’ order in early 2020, the turbulent economic climate birthed a range of dizzy predictions.

The office is dead! 
Working from home is impossible!
Company culture can’t survive over Zoom calls! 

But these divinations haven’t necessarily come true. What actually came about was a little more nuanced. 

The consequences of this huge shift to remote work were significant, wide-ranging, and sometimes surprising. The findings below highlight changes in work styles, disparities in economic opportunities, shifts in attitudes towards offices and real estate, and more.

Productivity and remote work is an ongoing experiment, exposing some of the inefficiencies in previous rigid hierarchies. But it also shows that employees can mostly be trusted to get on with things themselves; productivity losses due to remote work haven’t been as big as expected in many different sectors. 

The office itself is having a bit of an existential crisis, with some firms abandoning physical sites to the tune of millions of dollars. Others are taking the opportunity to buy up cheap commercial real estate with the hope of the future bringing a different - but healthy - face-to-face work climate. Predictions of remote work completely overthrowing the office orthodoxy were probably a little overzealous, but you can’t deny the shift to remote will have a lasting effect on the locations people want to work - and where they’re expected to.

So here are some stats on the remote work after effects we’ve observed so far, along with some predictions for the near future. 

50+ stats on remote work after effects:

Productivity is up for some

  • 86% of remote workers surveyed by Salesforce rate their productivity as excellent or good
  • 27% of remote workers have been provided with new or improved work technology since the onset of COVID-19
  • The Brazilian government estimates savings of more than 1 billion reais (US$180m) thanks to remote working, with a reduction in office maintenance and related expenses

Valoir, 2020

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/majority-of-workers-are-more-productive-and-communicative-at-home/

Productivity is down for others

  • Investment bank JPMorgan Chase found productivity fell while employees worked from home.
  • Work output was particularly affected on Mondays and Fridays, according to findings discussed by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon with analysts.
  • “The WFH lifestyle seems to have impacted younger employees, and overall productivity and ‘creative combustion’ has taken a hit,” an analyst wrote.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., 2017

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-14/at-jpmorgan-productivity-falls-for-younger-employees-at-home

Meetings have increased

  • For knowledge workers across North America, Europe and the Middle East, the number of meetings per person has increased by 13% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The number of attendees per meeting has increased by 14% compared to before.
  • However, the overall effect is that people spent 12% less time per day in meetings, post-lockdown.

US National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020

Source: https://www.nber.org/papers/w27612

Workers save commute time

  • Remote workers save 2-5 hours a day without commuting and in-person meetings.
  • A US citizen’s average daily time spent commuting to the office when not working remotely is 54 minutes.
  • This can provide huge benefits to either productivity (more time to spend working) or health (more time to spend resting), or a combination of both.

RescueTime, 2020

Source: https://blog.rescuetime.com/work-from-home-productivity-data/

Some salaries went down

  • As tech workers continue to leave Silicon Valley for more space and a better cost of living, the companies they work for are responding with a change of their own: cutting salaries.
  • One example is software company VMware, who will start cutting pay for employees who leave Silicon Valley.
  • While VMWare employees can work remotely on a permanent basis, they could face an 18% pay cut for moving to a city like Denver
  • Pay localization policies are increasingly common at companies like Twitter and Buffer

Business Insider, 2020

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/tech-companies-cutting-salaries-outside-bay-area-twitter-facebook-vmware-2020-9?IR=T

Remote work to increase over the next 5 years

  • The share of people working permanently from home in the U.S. and Europe is predicted to increase from roughly 5-6% pre-Covid-19 to between 10% and 11% post-Covid.
  • The share of hybrid or agile workers (splitting their time between remote and office) will increase from between 32% - 36% at present to just under half of all workers by 2025.
  • "The myth that work from home is not productive has been busted," CFO of Levi Strauss Harmit Singh said. "I believe we will settle into a culture where working from anywhere will be the new norm, with work from home or office or a hybrid arrangement."

Cushman & Wakefield, 2020

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/realestate/office-real-estate-market-will-get-back-to-pre-covid-level-in-2025-cushman-wakefield/ar-BB19to1y

Offices still matter (to some)

  • Facebook purchased a 400,000-square-foot campus complex in Bellevue, Washington in late 2020, despite temporarily shifting most of its employees to work from home earlier in the year 
  • The company envisions 50% of its employees will be working remotely within the next 5-10 years
  • “Our offices are still vitally important to our culture and will help accommodate anticipated growth and meet the needs of our employees that need or prefer to work from campus,” a representative said.

CNN, 2020

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/14/tech/facebook-rei-headquarters-sale/index.html

Mental health support has increased

  • Two-thirds of employers say supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing is one of their key challenges during the pandemic.
  • Extended periods of remote working, social distancing measures and shifting family dynamics all pose challenges to the mental wellbeing of workforces.
  • Companies are increasingly creating ‘mental health strategies’ for employees during the new normal’ of working from home.

Unmind, 2020

Source: https://blog.unmind.com/webinar-supporting-the-mental-health-of-a-distributed-workforce

Disparities could widen

  • The shift to remote work is alongside an increase in contract and freelance work.
  • These work types receive fewer benefits and less security than full-time employees.
  • Despite more career freedom, contractors are often in a ‘race to the bottom’ with their pricing.
  • Distributed workforces have a harder time discreetly sharing information or forming unions to secure their rights.

NY Times, 2020

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/27/business/remote-work-could-widen-disparities-in-the-labor-force.html?searchResultPosition=2

Silicon Valley is changing

  • Pinterest paid an eye-watering $89.5 million to terminate the lease of its San Francisco office.
  • "As we analyze how our workplace will change in a post-COVID world, we are specifically rethinking where future employees could be based,” said Pinterest CFO Todd Morgenfeld. 
  • Other companies like Facebook, Apple and Twitter suggest working from home will extend far into the future and potentially be permanent. 
  • 2/3rds of Bay Area residents say they'd consider leaving permanently, if allowed to work from home.

SFGate, 2020

Source: https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Pinterest-terminate-SF-office-lease-88-Bluxome-15525421.php

Office occupancy could rebound

  • Some forecasts expect office occupancy to to return to pre pandemic levels by 2025
  • In Q2-Q3 of 2020, 95 million square feet of US office space became vacant, 10 million more than in the 2008 financial crisis
  • An estimated 215 million square feet of US office vacancy will have been lost due to the pandemic overall
  • Global office vacancy will rise from 10.9% pre-crisis (2019 Q4) to 15.6% in 2022 Q2.

Cushman & Wakefield Global Office Impact Study, 2020

Source: https://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/Insights/COVID-19/global-office-impact-study-and-recovery-timing-report

Companies are hiring 'heads of remote work'

  • Companies are now hiring for ‘head of remote’ positions
  • They help employees relocate, assist with remote project management, and advise with tech and communication solutions
  • They also help organize virtual events and try to keep distributed teams engaged and happy

Washington Post, 2020

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/09/head-of-remote-work-jobs/

Fear-driven presenteeism on the rise

  • Nearly half (46%) of working UK employees feel more pressure to be ‘present’ during remote working under lockdown
  • More than a third have therefore continued to work while feeling unwell - for 16%, this is driven by redundancy/layoff fears
  • This disproportionately affects young workers, with 26-34 year olds the group most likely to work while sick.

Canada Life Insurance UK, 2020

Source: https://www.canadalife.co.uk/news/redundancy-fears-causing-increase-in-presenteeism-during-lockdown

Some employees don't trust their companies to make offices safe

  • Only 50% of employees believe that office spaces are safe to return to.
  • Workers disagree on who to trust for decisions about workplace safety (their management, government, friends or health authorities).
  • There’s no agreement on which measures would guarantee offices and workplaces to be safe to return to.

Edelman Workplace Trust and Coronavirus Special Report, 2020

Source: https://www.edelman.com/research/workplace-trust-coronavirus

Google leads the way in remote work initiatives

  • 62% of Google employees want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day.
  • The company gave employees the option to work from home through July 2021 amid the global pandemic.
  • 10% of employees (down from 20% in May 2020) say they don’t want to return to the office at all in future.
  • 15% say they’d only want to return to the office ad-hoc or for certain events.

CNBC, 2020

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/23/google-ceo-sundar-pichai-considering-hybrid-work-from-home-models.html

Does remote work harm career prospects? It's uncertain

  • 75% of workers trust their employers when they say that working remotely will not harm their career.
  • 70% of working women think the changes brought on by the pandemic will give them more flexibility to control their work schedule in the future.
  • However, 3 in 5 female employees say they feel like their prospects of getting a promotion are worse in their new remote work environment.

Catalyst: The Impact of Covid-19 on Workplace Inclusion Survey, 2020

Source: https://www.catalyst.org/research/workplace-inclusion-covid-19/

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20% of women feel ignored in virtual meetings

  • 45% of women business leaders say it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings 
  • 1 in 5 women say they’ve felt ignored or overlooked by colleagues during video calls
  • Dr. Patti Fletcher, a ‘workplace equity & disruption futurist’, says it's 'important for company leaders to do their part to ensure that a culture of talking over women and ignoring them doesn’t persist.'

Catalyst, 2020

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/03/45percent-of-women-business-leaders-say-its-difficult-for-women-to-speak-up-in-virtual-meetings.html

Responsibilities at home have shifted . . . slightly

  • A third of men that live with a woman partner say they’ve taken on more household chores while working from home.
  • However, only 13% of women say their male partner has taken on more household chores while working from home…! 
  • Women are twice as likely to be primarily responsible for homeschooling their child during the pandemic.

Catalyst: The Impact of Covid-19 on Workplace Inclusion Survey, 2020

Source: https://www.catalyst.org/research/workplace-inclusion-covid-19/

Workers don't want lower salaries

  • 58% of workers in SF Bay Area would not be willing to accept a lower (adjusted) salary to work remotely full time.
  • New Yorkers were slightly more adamant that remote and non-remote work shouldn’t have a salary difference, with 63% of workers saying they wouldn't accept a pay cut.
  • 61% of UK workers also said they would not accept a lower salary to work remotely.

Hired.com Remote Work Compensation Trends Report, 2020

Source: https://hired.com/blog/highlights/remote-work-compensation-trends-report/

Salaries could shift for some

  • 45% of tech professionals are expecting their salary to stay the same over the next 6 months.
  • But a small proportion of those in the SF Bay Area and United Kingdom expect a decrease of up to 20%.
  • In fact, the Bay Area has a more precarious outlook in general: 53% are concerned about being laid off or furloughed in the next 6 months.

Hired.com Remote Work Compensation Trends Report, 2020

Source: https://hired.com/blog/highlights/remote-work-compensation-trends-report/

Employees still expect office perks

  • 45% of tech professionals would expect their employer to provide additional compensation that equals their in-office perks, like free lunches and fitness stipends.
  • This belief is evenly shared across the US and UK tech hubs. 
  • Other perks that could be considered are stipends for increased resource consumption at home, ergonomic desk accessories, media and e-learning subscriptions, and even at-home food delivery funds.

Hired.com Remote Work Compensation Trends Report, 2020

Source: https://hired.com/blog/highlights/remote-work-compensation-trends-report/

Parents and seniors want full-time remote work

  • 41% of workers aged 45 and older say they don’t want to return to the office at all after the pandemic. Less than 30% of those under 35 share this opinion. 
  • 39% of parents say they have no desire to return to the office, compared with 33% of non-parents. 
  • 34% of parents would be inclined to take a payout to work remotely, compared to 30% of non-parents.

Hired.com Remote Work Compensation Trends Report, 2020

Source: https://hired.com/blog/highlights/remote-work-compensation-trends-report/

Everyone wants options

  • Around half of employees across every demographic group would like to work from the office 2 or 3 days per week when it’s safer to do so.
  • This is equal through gender split, parents and non-parents, all age ranges and surveyed nationalities, suggesting the benefits of both approaches can be sought with a mixed schedule.

Hired.com Remote Work Compensation Trends Report, 2020

Source: https://hired.com/blog/highlights/remote-work-compensation-trends-report/

Salary expectations are mixed between age groups

  • The overwhelming majority (67%) of workers under 25 expect to receive a raise of up to 20% in the next 6 months.
  • 55% of respondents aged 26-34 also expect a raise.
  • Meanwhile, just 48% of respondents aged 25-44, and only 34% of people over 45 expect their salaries to rise, with many actually bracing for a dip.

Hired.com Remote Work Compensation Trends Report, 2020

Source: https://hired.com/blog/highlights/remote-work-compensation-trends-report/

Will we all be working remotely in a few years time?

Almost certainly not. But the conversation has begun, at least, and the events of 2020 have opened up many peoples’ eyes to the possibility of a different working environment than what they’re used to.

It’s abundantly clear that a large portion of workers and managers prefer working in a face-to-face environment and are raring to get back to the office ASAP. These folks feed off the buzz of an energetic, creative environment that’s just impossible to replicate digitally. 

We mustn’t forget the other factors that’ll play into people’s decisions to abandon cities, move to the suburbs, or seek out the remote work lifestyle on the road. City living rent doesn’t seem to ever go down, and new industries are popping up while others are crumbling. Political, economic and climate changes are all a factor too. Predictions are not the easiest thing to make right now. 

Huge economic shifts are underfoot across the whole globe, and we’re in for a turbulent start to the decade. So it’s difficult to say what the consequences are to long-term remote work in large sections of the workforce - but it’s certainly going to be interesting. 

The most certain thing we can say now is that nothing’s quite certain yet. 

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