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Over the past few years, technology and collaborative tools have changed the way in which we work. We see this in the way work practices are changing. Companies now offer work-from-home days, hot-desks or co-working spaces are becoming more popular internationally and even locally. Remote working is here to stay. The global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting travel and public meeting restrictions meant that remote working was not just a nice to have option, but rather, a necessity in trying difficult times.

This brief article provides an overview to some very interesting statistics regarding remote work. They highlight its increase in popularity and relevance in the new post-COVID-19 reality. It also takes into consideration statistics before, during and predictions of what is likely to come post-COVID-19.

Key Statistics provided by FlexJobs and Global Workforce Analytics:-

  1. 88% of the organizations, worldwide, made it mandatory or encouraged their employees to work from home after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
  2. Remote work is on the rise!

1 Source: https://miro.com/guides/remote-work/statistics
  • 55% of businesses globally offer some capacity for remote work
  • 77% of remote workers report being more productive
  • 90% of remote workers would recommend working remotely to a friend

These initial statistics indicate the popularity of remote working globally, with remote workers themselves stating that they would recommend it to a friend and that they would rather continue working remotely rather than any other alternative method.

Let’s look at some more interesting statistics!

  • In the U.S remote work has risen by 173% between 2005 and 2018
  • 80% of telecommuters experience less work-related stress
  • 53% of U.S. telecommuters view flexible scheduling as the top benefit
  • U.S. companies that allow remote working have a 25% lower employee turnover rate
  • 25% of employees would take a 10% pay cut to work remotely
  • As of April 2020, 67% of organizations reported an increase in spending on web conferencing software.
  • Amazingly 99% of remote workers would like to continue doing so to some extent
  • 86% of companies now have the policy to deal with coronavirus-related absences
  • 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working remotely from home by the end of 2021
  • 74% of companies plan to shift some of their employees to remote working permanently.

The above statistics provide a very positive perspective to remote working, both for the organisation and employee alike. As always, one must balance the positive aspects of remote with some of negative effects that have also been identified. These more negative statistics show that:-

  1. 19% of remote employees report loneliness as their biggest challenge
  2. 54% of IT professionals think that remote workers are a greater security risk
  3. 20% of remote workers identify communication as an obstacle
  4. Only 14% of workers in the transport and utilities industry can work from home
  5. 2020 has seen a 9% increase in Google search interest related to “team-building”

As the above statistics indicate, communication and personal skills are some of the casualties of remote working. It goes without saying that the less interaction and communication with colleagues, the less these skills are utilized and developed. Another aspect which also needs to be taken into account is the increased security risks  that  remote workers may pose to the organisation. As more remote workers utilise an organisations IT infrastructure and resources such as networks and VPNs, these could serve as point of entry to hackers or malicious users. The remote access demands much stronger management and control over the storage of corporate data and who gets access to what. 

The challenge to the widespread implementation of remote working in sectors or areas in which this is feasible is to design and develop effective work practices which focus on sustainable solutions built on the positive aspects of remote work. This must be accompanied by investments in combatting the more negative aspects, particularly, staff support and team building.