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WFH One Year Later: 43 Statistics on The Remote Work Experience & Plans to Return to the Office

Posted by IndustrySelect on Wednesday, April 7, 2021


The COVID-19 Pandemic has radically changed the way America works, with 44% of U.S. employees working from home (compared to 17% before the Pandemic). Now one year into a remote work setting and U.S. workers are getting vaccinated and many companies are looking to fully reopen their offices. So how do professionals view the prospect of returning to the office? This article will explore some key statistics gathered from around the web that illuminate the work-from-home experience and how professionals are feeling about a potential return to the office.

How do Americans like working from home?

Turns out, quite a lot overall, but sentiment can vary depending on age and industry. One Gallup Poll published in February found that:

56% of U.S. workers were “always” or “sometimes” working from home as of January 2021.
44% of those working remotely said they would prefer to work from home even when it was safe to return to the office.
• Interestingly, 39% of respondents recently stated they would prefer to return to the office. The percentage of respondents wishing to return to the office has actually increased since July 2020, when only 28% reported a desire to return to the office. This suggests more workers are tiring of remote work or perhaps are more comfortable now that there’s a vaccine available.

However, another study conducted by LiveCareer found that nearly 30% of professionals reported plans to quit if their employer demanded they return to the office after the pandemic. This online survey of 1,022 workers also found:

61% of white-collar workers said they wish to continue working remotely indefinitely, even once the Pandemic is over.
• While only 7% of retail, wholesale and distribution center workers reported plans to quit if they had to return to the office, a stunning 35% of IT workers said they would jump ship.

And when asked how often they would prefer to work in the office should some in-office work become mandatory:

30% reported 3 days a week.
25% reported 2 days a week.
19% said they’d prefer 1 day a week.
9% said they’d prefer 4 days a week.

Another study from Owl Labs found that:

77% of respondents reported having the option to work from home would make them happier.
1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after the Pandemic is over.
23% of employees report being willing to take a 10% pay cut in order to continue working from home.

Another major survey of 9,000 “knowledge” workers conducted by Slack delivers some interesting demographic insights. Specifically, older workers, those in the 55 to 64 age range category, were the most likely to wish to continue working remotely. Here’s the full breakdown of workers by age who wish to continue working remotely:

12% of 16-24 year-olds.
11% of 25-34 year-olds.
11% of 35-44 year-olds.
15% of 45-54 year-olds.
17% of 55 to 64 year-olds.

Interestingly, the younger age groups are least likely to want to continue working remotely. As Fortune Magazine points out, this may be due to younger workers finding it difficult to stay productive at home, with 43% of them surveyed reporting their productivity has decreased since they started working remotely. It also may be that younger workers miss the social aspect of being in the office and engagement with their mentors.

Challenges & Opportunities in Remote Work

So what is driving opinions when it comes to working remotely or heading back to the office? There are multiple challenges and benefits to both to the employer and the employee when it comes to remote work. Consider these stats:

• According to a study by CoSo Cloud, 30% of telecommuters save up to $5,240 each year in the form of reduced costs for commuting, parking and food.
• An estimate from Global Workplace Analytics finds that telecommuters save on average the equivalent of 11 workdays per year in commute time.
• A separate estimate from Global Workplace Analytics finds businesses can save an average of $11,000 per telecommuter in the form of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover.

And when asked in this Buffer survey to describe their biggest struggle with working remotely:

22% reported unplugging after work as the greatest challenge
19% reported loneliness
17% reported collaborating and/or communication
• 10% pointed to distractions at home.

The rest reported staying motivated and not taking vacation time as their biggest struggle.

And in the LiveCareer Survey, when asked what they considered the main advantage of remote work:

• 64% of those surveyed cited flexibility
44% cited improved work life balance.
40% cited feeling safer.
29% cited increased productivity.
10% said being able to acquire skills as the main advantage.

And what about health and wellness trends? Last week, the Census Bureau released some fascinating new statistics on the health and demographic trends of those who switched to telework. The Census Bureau study found that those who switched to telework have higher income, education and better health. Specifically:

• Those who reported being in excellent health were more than twice as likely to have had an adult in their household working from home.
• Among those reporting poor health, 79% reported that no one in their household switched to remote work.

Of course, does not mean that remote work necessarily improves health (or income or education level); indeed many workers have reported some adverse health effects from working remotely. Consider one survey from Aetna, which found that among 4,011 employees in four different countries surveyed:

32% report concerns over stress, while 43% report weight gain.
88% of all workers in the 18-24 year-old range reported poor mental health has impacted their productivity.

Meanwhile, a separate survey from AllWork finds that 50% of respondents report that remote work has had a negative impact on their emotional or mental health.

Yet, an interesting sleep and rest-related study from mattress company Amerisleep found that 80% of remote workers experience less work-related stress. Interestingly, the same survey found 45% of remote workers admitted they worked from their bed on average 11 hours per workweek, with marketing and advertising workers among those working the most from bed, at 10 hours per week.

The same study found that remote workers were 57% were more likely than the average American to be satisfied with their jobs. Not surprising, considering that nearly 65% of remote workers said they experienced reported good sleep quality during the week and that 38% admitted to napping on average 9 hours per workweek.

Whether you’re working from home, from the office, or from the beach, we can help you get in touch with the right contacts. Reach 460,000 industrial businesses and one million executives with IndustrySelect, the industrial database for sales, marketing, prospecting and business development. Click here to start your free demo. 




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