Remote Management

The Future of Remote Work: 21 Statistics About Work-From-Home In 2021

Written by

Pavla Bobosikova

If you're an employer considering work-from-home policies moving forwards, an employee interested in staying remote past the pandemic, or a People Ops leader looking to improve their employee engagement, you need to stay up-to-date with remote work!

Here are 21 statistics about remote work in 2021. Keep reading to get data-backed answers to your most pressing questions about remote work.

These statistics were nearly all released in 2021 or December 2020. That's right, we’ve curated the most recent data on various work-from-home topics, fresh off the printing press.

Looking for more updated information? Here is our retrospective and analysis about the Great Resignation 2021.

Key Remote Work Statistics 📊

  • 40% of Americans prefer full-time remote work
  • Employers could lose up to 39% of their workforce forcing a return to the office
  • 80% of workers believe remote options help them take care of their mental health
  • Only  25% employees believe empathy in their workplace is sufficient
  • Remote employers report increased productivity (42%) and efficiency (38%)
  • Remote managers still own 70% of their team’s engagement levels
  • 37% of remote workers don’t feel connected to their peers
  • 50% of Gen Z remote workers struggle to communicate with peers

1. How many remote workers are there in 2021?

In December 2020, about 40% of the American workforce was working from home. TechRepublic reports that "by the end of 2021, 51% of all knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely, up from 27% of knowledge workers in 2019."

2. How many companies plan to stay remote?

Kona’s survey of 200 managers across 150+ organizations shows remote work is here to stay. Over 30% of organizations plan to stay remote moving forwards, while half are planning to retain a hybrid model even when once the office is safe to work in.

Take a look at our updated analysis of the future of remote work and the Great Resignation 2021.

3. How many employees want to keep working remotely?

The latest Harris Poll survey of 2,063 adults indicates 40% of Americans prefer full-time remote work. Just over a third want a hybrid model split between the home and the office, and 25% of the U.S. workforce would rather return to the office full-time.

4. What will employee churn and employee retention look like?

Business leaders and industry experts have resorted to calling a 2021 trend the "Great Resignation." According to Jérôme Mackowiak, director and advisory in the Gartner HR practice, “forcing employees to go back to the on-site environment could result in employers losing up to 39% of their workforce.”

“Forcing employees to go back to the on-site environment could result in employers losing up to 39% of their workforce.”

— Jérôme Mackowiak, director and advisor at Gartner HR

GitLab uncovered similar numbers in their Remote Work Report 2021, with 52% of global knowledge workers noting they would consider leaving their company for a remote role. If remote work were suddenly not an option, a third of the 4,000 employees surveyed would quit their job.

5. How does remote work affect employees’ mental health?

A vast majority of U.S. knowledge workers reported mental health issues in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Luckily, a recent FlexJobs survey of 1,500+ respondents indicates over 80% of remote workers believe greater work flexibility helps them take better care of their mental health.

“Allowing employees to work flexibly can significantly reduce the conflict that we all experience between our personal and professional lives, and better equip everyone, regardless of their career level, to take better care of their mental, emotional, and physical needs,” shared Sara Sutton, CEO and of FlexJobs.

Read more about how proactive self-care activities can aid in mental health when working from home and boost employee morale.

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6. What does remote work mean for work flexibility?

Flexible work options were nearly unheard of previous to the Covid-19. In December 2020, the Pew Research Center polled 5,858 U.S. adults working remotely for the first time to see if this had changed.The results were stunning. 49% of the newly remote workforce in the U.S. reported enjoying greater work flexibility. Nearly half of the American workforce had more options in choosing not only their workplace but also their work hours. 38% of new remote workers also found it easier to balance their work with family responsibilities.

7. What do employees believe has changed the most since they’ve started working remotely?

Buffer partnered with Doist, Remotive, and We Work Remotely to poll 2,300 remote employees. When asked what had changed the most in the way they work, 41% of respondents said it was their collaboration and communication methods, 22% noted it was just their location, and 20% highlighted changes in their work hours. About 10% also reported significantly changing how they do their work.

8. What’s the state of virtual meetings in 2021?

There are more virtual meetings than ever before, and they hold great potential for continuous improvement. In fact, 4 in 5 home workers report attending more meetings than previously at the office. Slido’s survey of 1,500+ remote workers also reveals 61% believe online meetings can be more engaging than face-to-face meetings.

9. How has remote work affected company culture?

Diving headfirst into remote work following the spread of Covid-19 hasn’t always automatically led to great remote culture. Over 60% of employees note the transition to work-from-home has significantly changed their organization’s culture, according to Randstad’s May 2021 survey results. Nearly half of remote workers note it is now harder for them to connect with their company’s values. “There’s a real disconnect between the way companies are using technology to stay connected but failing to connect on culture and values,” says Carolyn Levy, president of Randstad Technologies.

“There’s a real disconnect between the way companies are using technology to stay connected but failing to connect on culture and values,” says Carolyn Levy, president of Randstad Technologies.”

— Carolyn Levy, president of Randstad Technologies

10. What’s the link between remote work and transparency?

Nearly 4,000 global remote workers shared their thoughts with Git Lab about the topic. 34% of respondents reported that greater transparency from leadership leads to a deeper feeling of belonging at work, while nearly 40% noted that increased transparency improved their sense of connection.

11. What role does empathy play in work-from-home?

According to BusinessSolver’s 2021 State of Workplace Empathy, only 25% of employees believe empathy in their workplace is sufficient. That’s despite the fact that 72% of respondents believe empathy drives employee motivation. In addition to this, 84% of CEOs in 2021 believe empathy powers lead to better business outcomes.

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12. How do HR and People Ops professionals view remote employee engagement in 2021?

Over 60% of the respondents surveyed in a Numly poll report investing in their remote team’s professional development to keep employees engaged and productive.  For Jim Lundy, CEO of Aragon Research, “employee engagement has become more crucial in the new normal of remote work. It’s not a question of why, it’s how.” And for Brent Hyder, Chief People Officer at Salesforce, "Aan immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks."

“An immersive workspace is no longer limited to a desk in our Towers; the 9-to-5 workday is dead; and the employee experience is about more than ping-pong tables and snacks.”

— Brent Hyder, President & Chief People Officer, Salesforce

A stylish woman really excited about the business applications of predictive analytics.

Why Predictive Analytics Is A Game Changer For Employee Engagement in 2022How companies use predictive analytics to re-engage their teams and stand head and shoulders over the competition.

13. How do employees feel about returning to the office?

They ALL feel anxious. The Limeade Institute discovered that 100% of the 4,500 adult workers they surveyed who worked in an office before the pandemic now feel stressed about the prospect of going back to one. Their anxiety centered around pandemic safety concerns, the prospect of sacrificing work flexibility, and having to commute to the office.

14. What activities have the highest potential for remote work?

McKinsey used MGI’s workforce model to analyze over 2,000 activities in more than 800 occupations and identify which have the greatest potential for remote work. The top three form a surprising trio. Indeed, updating knowledge and learning, working with computers, and thinking creatively topped the list, with up to 91%, 75% and 68% in respective remote work potential.

15. What are the disadvantages of remote work?

After surveying 1,000+ remote employees across the U.S. in early 2021, LiveCareer drew up the official list of remote work disadvantages for employees. It includes home distractions for 59% of respondents and difficulties staying motivated at 45%, with issues with communication and collaboration bordering nearly 40%. Just over a third of those working from home reported feeling lonely. Other problems with remote work included struggling to unplug after work (32%), execute on deliverables well (15%), or retain creativity (11%).

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16. What are the advantages of remote work?

Despite the trials and errors of remote leadership this past year, employee satisfaction shot up in companies all over North America. In early 2021, LiveCareer discovered that out of the 1,000 remote workers they polled, 81% of American employees today enjoy working remotely. One advantage was improved work-life balance for 44% of respondents. Other benefits included feeling safer (40%), being more productive (29%), and being able to acquire new career-related skills (10%).

17. What are the benefits of remote work for employers?

The advantages of work-from-home aren’t unique to employees, despite the avalanche of information on the topic. In fact, employers probably gain the most from a remote workforce! Those surveyed by Git Lab this year reported increased productivity (42%) and efficiency (38%), and a reduction in bureaucracy and politics (24%).

18. What’s the link between remote work and loneliness?

Unfortunately, some of your newfound remote work productivity may be lost to the compound effects of increased alienation among your team. GitLab found that 37% of remote workers don’t feel connected to their peers in 2021. As Gallup puts it, “Loneliness is emotional. Isolation is structural. And your remote employees are likely experiencing both.” Uncorrected, the two can derail workplace productivity by 21%.

“Loneliness is emotional. Isolation is structural. And your remote employees are likely experiencing both.”

19. What should remote leadership focus on in 2021?

Gallup found that managers still define 70% of their team’s engagement levels, whether their employees are remote or not. Recognizing and appreciating your employees’ contributions helps create trust, and that trust is what drives engagement. To quote Nicole Bendaly in Forbes, “an individual is 12 times more likely to be engaged when they trust their leader.”

20. How is remote work increasing cybersecurity concerns?

Cisco discovered that 84% of the employers they surveyed felt that "cybersecurity is now extremely important or more important than before COVID-19." 97% made adjustments to their cybersecurity protocols when their employees started working remotely.

21. How will remote work affect Gen Z employees?

By 2025, Gen-Z workers will make up 27% of the workforce. That's nearly a third of a potentially remote-first workforce.

Unfortunately, 74% of Gen Z workers feel less informed about what is going on within their company since they started working from home following the pandemic, versus 53% of Gen X and 50% of Boomers. Half of all young professionals find communicating with colleagues difficult. Communication and remote teambuilding aren’t just nice-to-have for Gen Z remote workers: they’re necessary.

Remote work is here to stay.

The question is not whether there will be more people working from home in the future, but how we can improve their experience in doing so. Remote employee engagement will be key to retaining your top talent in the future. If anything, these 21 statistics show that workers' new expectations in 2021 might redefine business success within months.WFHomie is an employee engagement and culture-building platform for remote teams. We help team leaders build informal connections between remote employees through a whole range of services, including virtual events like origami classes, game nights, and virtual escape rooms. You can learn more about us here or check out our virtual experiences here.

The Great Resignation has added so many other factors to WFH Revolution. Read more remote work statistics here!

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