The number of Americans who work remotely continues to rise.
In a 2016 Gallup survey of 15,000 workers in the U.S., 43% of the respondents said they spent a portion of their hours doing remote work. In 2017, 8 million Americans worked from home.
And it’s not only in the United States. Around the globe, more companies are starting to realize the benefits of having their employees work remotely. Aside from reduced operational costs and increased worker productivity, it allows them to access a wider talent pool.
But what’s causing the growing popularity of remote work? In this article, we’ll cover what remote work is along with its advantages and disadvantages. We’ll look at some of the most interesting facts and figures about remote work so we can better understand why it’s widely considered to be the future of work.
What Is Remote Work?
Remote work is any job that doesn’t require you to work in a physical office. Some workers are fully remote, while others only do it for a fraction of their working hours. Thanks to the internet, employees have the option to do their tasks anywhere they want. They can work in the comfort of their own home, in a coffee shop, a library, or a coworking space, basically anywhere that has a good internet connection.
Telecommuting is another term synonymous with remote work. It’s considered the original word to describe working outside of the office. However, one main difference between these two terms is that telecommuting requires the employee to live within the same geographic location as the company. A telecommuter may still be required to visit the office for meetings or other reasons while a remote worker is not. Nowadays, there’s less distinction between the two. Between the two, remote work is considered the more modern and popular term.
Pros and Cons of Remote Work
Each employee has unique preferences when it comes to working. While there are plenty of benefits to working remotely, some still prefer to work in a traditional office setting. Let’s dive into the reasons why people embrace remote work and some of its potential downsides.
Advantages of Remote Work
From the highly flexible work hours to the non-existent commute, there are plenty of reasons why thousands of people prefer to do remote work. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones.
Provides a more flexible schedule
Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report revealed that a highly flexible schedule is the top reason why people choose to do remote work. Out of the 1,900 remote workers they surveyed, 43% of them identified a fluid schedule as the most significant advantage.
You save more money
Having a remote job means you can do your work at home or some other place that you prefer. The majority of remote workers choose to work from home not only for the convenience but also for the financial savings. Since you don’t have to commute to work, you no longer have to spend as much money on gas. Food and coffee are also cheaper since you can prepare them yourself at home. You no longer have to shell out cash for a work-appropriate wardrobe, either. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that remote workers can save between $2,000 and $7,000 per year.
Lets you be more productive
In the U.S., companies lose as much as $1.8 trillion annually in lost productivity. Employees spend an average of 2.09 hours every day doing tasks unrelated to work. The usual suspects include surfing non-company approved sites, smartphone use, group text chats, water cooler gossip, and impromptu meetings. In contrast, remote workers post better output according to two-thirds of the employers who participated in the survey conducted by SurePayroll. According to the study, remote work allows employees to continue working even when sick and return to work more quickly following health issues or surgery. They can also run errands and do extra duties on the side without having to take the full day off.
Allows time for deep work
Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work” defines the title as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It allows employees to produce high-quality work because their minds will be free from all the distractions that go with working on a traditional office environment. A study by SurePayroll on productivity conducted on more than 2,000 U.S. employees revealed that loud co-workers and impromptu meetings are some of the biggest distractions in the office. That’s why 86% of the participants said they prefer to work alone to achieve maximum efficiency.
You’ll experience less stress
Remote work reduces stress by as much as 82% according to a study by Premier Global Services Inc. People working from home enjoy the perks of having more time with their families, which can help minimize stress. Office distractions and overall busyness affect a person’s stress levels. Remote workers get to avoid these stressors and focus on their work. The American Institute of Stress revealed that 65% of workers said that workplace stress had caused them difficulties, with more than 10% saying it had significant effects on the quality of their life. Working from home allows employees to bypass all the cons of working at the office and experience less stress.
Gives you more time to work
The absence of a commute means more hours to do your work. A typical one-way commute to work averages 26.1 minutes, according to this CNBC report. That translates to 4.35 hours per week or up to 200 hours in a year spent on traveling to and from work. Remote workers don’t have to commute, giving them their time back.
You feel more motivated to work
Improved employee morale is one of the effects of working remotely. Employees who are already working from home reported better work and life balance, and the change in location increased employee morale by as much as 54%.
You’ll have more ways to get healthier
Working at home opens up possibilities that aren’t available when you’re at the office, like the ability to cook healthier meals anytime you want. Taking a quick jog outside at your convenience is another. You can schedule a quick gym session within your workday and get back home to resume work.
Disadvantages of Remote Work
Some companies are still hesitant to implement a remote work program in their business, probably because of one of the following reasons. Before offering or signing up for remote work, take these disadvantages into account. You can use them to strategize the best possible work-from-home scenario.
Employees feel isolated
More than 50% of remote managers and employees feel lonely always or very often, according to a study conducted by Future Workplace and Virgin Pulse on managers and employees from 10 different countries. While working outside of the office allows you to do deep work and be more productive, you may feel you’re missing out on many happenings going on with the company. Having no one else working alongside you to talk with can make you feel lonely.
Can have a negative impact on employee promotion
Since they’re not in the office, remote workers are less visible within the company. It could affect how superiors assess their overall performance and value as a team member. Opportunities for growth might also get offered first to colleagues working in the office because you’re away.
Blurred lines between work and personal life
There’s less separation between your work and personal life when working remotely. The flexibility of schedule could lead to workers doing their job outside of regular working hours and limit the number of activities they can do in their personal lives. Some work-from-home employees find it hard to stop working because they did not set clear work rules for themselves.
Self-control can be a problem
While working from home solves the problem of annoying co-workers and other office-related distractions, it also presents its own set of diversions. Procrastination can become a real problem, especially when you have complete control over how you spend your time. Television, the internet, family members, and chores can distract your focus.
10 Interesting Stats on Why Remote Work Is Here to Stay
Despite remote work’s significant disadvantages, some experts project that 50% of the American workforce will be working remotely in the next few years. The number of freelancers in the U.S. is predicted to increase to 43%, almost half of the country’s total workforce. The following are 10 key reasons that drive the growth of remote work.
1. It Makes Employees More Efficient
A survey conducted by CoSo Cloud revealed that 30% of the respondents who worked remotely a few times per month were able to complete more work in less time. Overall, 77% of those who worked remotely reported an increase in their productivity.
2. It Reduces Stress
A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identifies unpleasant or dangerous physical working conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems as factors that increase employee stress levels. Working remotely can solve such issues, including the stress employees get from the hassles of daily commute.
3. Fewer Overhead Expenses
Employers benefit from lower real estate and overhead costs when hiring remote workers. According to Global Workplace Analytics, a company can save an average of $11,000 annually if employees are allowed to work remotely even half of the time.
4. It’s Environmentally Friendly
Working remotely reduces a company’s carbon footprint. Global Workplace Analytics researchers estimate that if workers (with compatible jobs) were allowed to work remotely half of the time, long-term benefits could include a reduction in greenhouse gases that is comparable to permanently removing the entire New York state workforce off the road. PGi estimates that remote workers in the U.S. can save up to two billion gallons of gas annually.
5. It Decreases the Gender Gap in the Workforce
The National Center for Women & Information Technology reported that 51% of women identified their working mother status as the main reason why they’re not getting promoted. Remote jobs can allow women who want to be home with their kids to fulfill their roles professionally without having to sacrifice time with the family.
6. The Trend Will Continue to Rise Globally
A study by the International Workplace Group reported that 70% of people work remotely across the globe. More than half (53%) work from home a couple of days a week. Another study of 1,000 North American office workers showed that 74% of them would opt to ditch their current job for another company that offers remote work.
7. It Reduces Absenteeism
As cited in the same study mentioned above by Premier Global Services Inc., unscheduled absences in the U.S. cost as much as $1,800 per employee per year. Also, companies that offer remote work report 63% fewer unplanned absences.
8. It Serves as Bridge Jobs for Older Workers
A bridge job is your occupation in between quitting your primary career and retiring permanently. In a survey conducted by AARP, 34% of the participants said they would like to work at home. Remote work makes it easier for seniors to manage their time and skip the commute, which can be a hassle as age sets in.
10. It Improves Employee Retention Rates
According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. employer spends roughly $4,000 and 24 days hiring a new employee. They also report that it’s more expensive to look for and hire new talent than it is to keep an existing one. Remote work allows companies to be more flexible with their employees’ needs and working setup, potentially allowing them to keep employees who would otherwise have to quit for location reasons.
The Future of Work Is Remote
More people are embracing the idea of remote work. The advantages are plenty and the employee and employer can both benefit from jumping on the remote trend. However, to make it work, both parties will need to set the right expectations.
Stats about remote work show that there are many benefits, but there are still some drawbacks to work around. Having the right systems in place will ensure the success of working remotely.