While the figures vary from source to source, nearly 50% of American workers now do their jobs remotely at least some of the time, with employees who spend three to four days off-site reporting the highest workplace engagement.
Remote work isn’t some wave of the future – it’s here and now. Here are seven statistics that reveal the state of remote work in 2018.
(Hat tip to Buffer and Upwork for their incredible work compiling up-to-date 2018 remote work statistics. You can read their full reports here and here.)
Takeaways from the 2018 Remote Work Statistics
Remote workers love the gig.
1. 90% of remote workers plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers, and 94% encourage others to give remote jobs a shot. (Source: Buffer)
2. Dave Nevogt, CEO of Hubstaff, a company that helps others manage remote teams, says, “It’s clear to me that remote employees stay longer, work harder, and offer better ROI over co-located employees. The freedom to work from when and where you want is one of the most desired benefits employees have — it helps us keep our attrition rates low. We’re just six years old and the majority of the original team we hired continues to work with Hubstaff.” Meanwhile, companies like Buffer as well have retention rates as high as 91%. (Source: Buffer)
We’ve said it before: remote work isn’t a flash in the pan. This is a new style of work that is becoming increasingly common, which has implications for businesses and workers alike. When people choose a more flexible work life, they tend to enjoy it, stick to it, and recruit others to do the same. And as Hubstaff and Buffer illustrate, this change presents a really interesting opportunity for companies. If you’re willing to open your company up to telecommuting—even if just part-time—you can recruit and retain top talent. Plus, as other studies have shown, you can increase productivity, and save on overhead costs.
It’s a win-win for teams across the board.
Even so, there are downsides to working remotely.
Of course, not all that glitters is gold. There are downsides to working remotely.
3. In fact, loneliness (21%), collaborating and/or communicating (21%), and distractions at home (16%) are the biggest struggles of remote workers surveyed by Buffer. (Source: Buffer)
Frankly, those aren’t small obstacles. It’s important for distributed teams to take advantage of tools and resources that can help eliminate some of the emotional burdens of working solo all the time. Companies with remote workers should go the extra mile to provide compensation packages that can help, too: proper health insurance, retreats and bonding activities, and stipends for coworking spaces all make a difference in combatting communication problems and loneliness.
Work/life balance can be a bit of a no man’s land.
4. According to Buffer’s research, while 81% of respondents have traveled outside of their home city and spent time working during those travels, a staggering 55% of remote workers take fewer than 15 days of vacation per year. The smallest range of vacation days in the survey — 0 to 5 days — is the norm for 16% of remote workers. (Source: Buffer)
Remote workers are often promised unlimited vacation as a perk of working remotely. But more often than not, unlimited vacation policies aren’t backed by company cultures that support employees actually making use of them. Being able to travel whenever and wherever because your workstation goes along with you is legitimately cool—but it is not an adequate alternative for actually logging offline and resting your brain semi-regularly.
Being able to work whenever and wherever does not mean you should work whenever and wherever. As a remote worker, it’s important to block your time and set boundaries for when you are available to your job and when you’re on personal time. And it’s equally as important for companies to respect these boundaries and encourage their team members to take time away from the office (even if the “office” is their living room).
Companies aren’t necessarily prepared for remote or flex work.
Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways from recent remote work studies is this: while remote work is becoming more commonplace on an individual level, companies still have work to do to put the infrastructure in place to support distributed teams.
5. 53% of hiring managers agree that companies are embracing more freelancers, temporary and agency workers (“flexible talent”) as compared to three years ago, and
6. 64% of hiring managers feel that their company has the resources and processes in place to support a remote workforce.
7. And yet the majority (57%) lack a remote work policy. (Source: Upwork)
For would-be remote workers, this data is promising (if a bit intimidating). If you are interested in ditching your current commute or applying for a job several states away, address it with your manager or HR. It’s entirely possible they are open to the idea, even if no one else on your team works from home. Simply bear in mind that you might be forging new ground, as it’s quite likely there aren’t processes and tools in place yet to support telecommuting.
For companies looking to recruit and retain a new level of top talent, the option to work from home is an important perk to consider. We have ushered in a new era of work—don’t get caught lagging behind. Establish the bones of a remote work policy now (you’ll learn as you go), and you’ll reap the rewards instantly and for years to come.
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