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Recent Surveys Find Remote Work Successful, Executives Embracing It

Since the pandemic started, remote work has taken off. While the number of people working from home has gone down somewhat in 2021 – over one-third of the U.S. workforce was working remotely in the spring of 2020, but one in four did in 2021 – no one is anticipating a full return to the office. Ever. So the question is, is remote work successful? Is it destined to be the future of work?

Let’s look at what recent surveys say about the success of remote work to get an idea of how employees and employers view a work-from-wherever future.

Remote Work in 2020 – What Happened?

Before 2020, only about 6 percent of U.S. employees worked primarily from home, up from a mere 4 percent in 2009. In 2010, less than 10 million Americans worked from home full-time, with another 4 million following a hybrid work schedule.

The reality is, in the decade leading up to the pandemic, remote work was increasing at a snail’s pace. It exploded in 2020

Once social distancing guidelines were put in place in the spring, employees that could be productive at home left the workplace. The number of remote workers rose to over 48.7 million people, or 35 percent of American workers, by May.

Most were professionals in management, business, and finance or employees in sales and administrative support roles.

How Successful Was Remote Work During the Pandemic?

While shifting from an in-office to a remote or hybrid workforce comes with challenges, remote work turned out to be surprisingly successful. Hiring managers and employees are seeing an increase in productivity. They are also getting used to the benefits of flexible scheduling.

According to the 2020 Future Workforce Pulse Report, an Upwork survey involving over 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, remote work paved the way for greater productivity and flexibility. Seventy percent of hiring managers noted a reduction to non-essential meetings and 60 percent said schedule flexibility increased.

Remote work also saved an incredible amount of commuting time, enabling employees to spend more hours being productive and less time in traffic. A survey of 10,000 employees carried out by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics revealed that U.S. employees saved over 9 billion hours from mid-March 2020 to mid-September 2020. Most of that time saved went to work.

How do workers feel about a remote lifestyle? The most recent State of Remote Work survey conducted by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics found that almost half of American workers would take a pay cut of up to 5 percent to continue to work remotely at least part-time.

Employees also report putting in more hours – 55 percent say they work more hours. Ninety-one percent say they are just as if not more productive working from home than they were in the office.

What employment and HR research is showing is that most of the U.S. workforce doesn’t want to be in the office anymore. Even with all the perks of an office environment – nap pods, free lunches, and plush offices – 68 percent would rather work remotely and never go back to the office, according to a recent survey by GoodHire.

Even more revealing, 45 percent would either quit their job or start a remote job search if their employer required them to return to the office full-time. And 70 percent are willing to lose their benefits to avoid going back to the office.

This trend also applies to job seekers. Thirty percent would absolutely not consider applying with an employer that expects them to be in the office five days per week, and 85 percent say they favor job opportunities that have a remote work or hybrid option.

Embracing Remote Work

Disruption from COVID essentially created a national remote work experiment, which showed that productivity levels don’t go down when employees aren’t in the office. But this experience also revealed how much U.S. workers want to have the freedom and flexibility that comes with remote work. Now that millions of former office workers have tried out remote work, they don’t want to give it up.

There really is no going back, which leaves executives to embrace a work-from-wherever future. As a result, employers are looking at the different types of remote and hybrid work models and how they can play out.

McKinsey has described six different work models and shows how each can impact an organization’s workforce and office costs.

While there will still be a place for in-office interaction, meetings, and training, hybrid and mostly remote organizations stand to gain in terms of talent, productivity, and cost-savings.

Get Ready for the Future of Work

Understanding the benefits of remote work, employers are allowing staff to continue working from home, and they are putting the tools and processes in place to foster a work-from-wherever model.

Ultimately, the future of work will involve both in-office and remote workers, with many people getting work done from anywhere. With a modern phone system, cloud-based communication tools, and a cloud migration plan, your organization can keep all of your employees connected, no matter where they work from.

The right technology ensures everyone can stay productive, collaborate, and communicate, whether they’re in the office, at home, or anywhere else. Explore how easy it is to get ready for the future of work with tools from Intermedia.

About Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Program Manager of Digital Content and Strategy at Intermedia