Remote Work in 2021: What to Expect
Over the past ten years, there’s been a distinct shift in how the business world works. While it seemed radical early on, some businesses started to incorporate remote working into their operations process. At first, many allowed the option on for special occasions, like when employees would otherwise have to call out because a child was sick at home.
Now, though, remote work isn’t anything unusual in any capacity. Over the last five years alone, remote work has increased by 44%, and over the previous ten years, it jumped by 91%.
Remote work is changing the face of business, and it’s important that all businesses are ready to adapt. In this post, we’re going to look at the future of remote work, how working remotely can benefit your business, and the statistics and data to back it up.
How the Pandemic Has Caused a Shift to Remote Work
It’s no secret that our whole world was turned upside by COVID-19. All around the globe, businesses had to shutter their physical locations for several weeks, if not longer. And for many businesses, the only logical and practical solution was to shift to remote work, at least in some capacity.
A study by Gallup found that in April, 51% of all workers surveyed were working from home for every shift. Though that’s decreased to only 33% as of October, there was an 18-point shift in people who work from home “sometimes.”
Right now, slightly more than half of employees within the US are working from home in some capacity at least some of the time. This is a pretty high number, considering the number of essential jobs and positions that require in-person work.
During this period, many businesses who were clinging to the idea that employees had to work in-office to be productive or efficient discovered that this wasn’t true. They were forced to adapt the internal infrastructure and adopt the tools needed to run a virtual office when possible to reduce risk, and realized in the process that it’s a lot more do-able and manageable than previously expected.
Why Many Businesses Plan to Continue Working Remotely
Once businesses were essentially forced to allow remote work (because the choice was either remote work or no work), many who had previously held fears about potential perils of remote work had their concerns assuaged.
Instead of everything crashing to a burning halt, the opposite happened after the initial learning curve. In many cases, businesses across multiple studies found that the employee’s productivity increased. 90% of employees said that more flexible work arrangements and schedules boosted productivity and morale, and businesses were benefiting from it.
In addition to the skyrocketing productivity (which just can’t be dismissed), studies have found that there are multiple other benefits of remote work that businesses need to consider:
- Approximately 80% of U.S. workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible or remote working. You may need to offer this to attract and retain top talent.
- Remote workers are 57% more likely than the average American to have job satisfaction.
- When working in the office, approximately 26% of the average worker’s day is wasted. Semi-pointless meetings become tempting, water cooler chat slows things down, and productivity stalls. When people can take breaks and focus on their own, productivity increases. This is why workers may be as much as 65% more productive in a home office.
- 30% of telecommuters save up to $5,000 per year. Think about the gas, tolls, and car maintenance alone that comes from driving to and from work daily. There’s also the need to buy office-appropriate clothes and potentially buy lunches, coffee, or snacks out. These savings are significant.
- Businesses can save money too; specifically, they may be able to save as much as $11,000 per employee on average by letting them work at home even half the time. You can downsize to a smaller office and rotate staff who come in on certain days, save on in-office equipment like chairs and desks, save on electricity and utilities, and more.
- 50% of remote workers reduced their sick days used, and 56% said it reduced their total absences. This is likely partially due to team members not passing around as many viruses, but the ability to work from home can also decrease stress, allow people to take better care of themselves, and get more sleep. They stay healthier.
Keep in mind that even if your team will only be working remotely a few days a week, that can make a big difference for everyone involved. They can sleep 30 minutes longer in the morning that would have been spent driving to you, or go for a morning run to improve health and reduce stress.
You can also better attract and retain top talent. Maybe your business is in Florida, but your best candidate for an open position lives in Connecticut… and is unwilling to move. Remote work allows you to get the best candidate for the job, regardless of geographical limitations.
If you’re still not sold on remote work, consider the massive cost savings. If your business is able to be remote full-time, that means no more rent, utility payments, internet bills, office supply costs, office furniture expenses – the list goes on and on.
What to Expect with the Future of Remote Work
Remote work is here to stay, at least in some capacity.
While we likely hit the remote work ceiling during the peak of COVID restrictions (at least for the time being), many businesses that first offered remote work capabilities will continue to do so in some capacity even once the pandemic has ended.
Businesses are realizing that their team loves remote work, and that it’s increasing productivity and work quality. And once people’s children are able to go back to school and daycare full-time, that will only continue to increase.
One study believes that up to 30% of all workers will work from home at least a few times a week following the pandemic. Another suggests that 16% of Americans who were working in-office full time pre-covid will likely switch to some level of remote work.
Keep in mind that what employees want plays a crucial part in this, too, especially now that they’ve gotten to experience remote work first hand. Approximately 72% of people who worked remotely want a hybrid remote-office model once the pandemic is over, and only 12% want to return to full-time office work.
Multiple studies have also shown that 80% of workers want jobs with some element of remote work, employers know that they need to offer this to be competitive. And if productivity and employee morale increases, why not?
Remote work isn’t going anywhere any time soon, at least for positions that can be done in some part remotely. Businesses need to consider how to offer flexible working arrangements (including location!) in order to get the best workers in their field and to keep them on the payroll.
Since employee productivity and satisfaction rates are blooming under remote work and it can save the business tens of thousands of dollars, there’s nothing to lose here. As long as your team stays connected and delights your clients or customers, your business can excel.