Remote work isn't the future of work — it's the present.

For our 2020 study, Owl Labs partnered with Global Workplace Analytics, a globally-recognized authority and research firm focused on the Future of Work.

Our new survey data revealed what we all expected, that COVID-19 kicked off the great remote work migration and the Work From Anywhere #WFA movement is here to stay. These return to work statistics show that 23% of full-time employees would take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time and 77% agree that after COVID-19, being able to work from home would make them happier

Before we dive into the virtual work statistics, it's important to note that even the language around remote work has developed drastically over the past few years. Telecommuting has turned into virtual work, which later evolved into remote work or working from home. The ability to switch among remote options then birthed the hybrid team. Here is a refresher on the lingo for discussing flexible work options and types of workers.

  • Companies that don't allow remote work: These companies require employees to work from an in-person office and do not have an option to work remotely.
  • Fully remote companies: These companies are also known as distributed companies, and are completely remote with no headquarters or office options. Employees at fully remote companies work from home, workspaces, or wherever they choose.
  • Hybrid companies: These companies offer both remote and in-office options. Employees have the ability to choose to work remotely, from an office or shared workspace, or alternate between the two.
  • Remote workers: They are people who work remotely at any frequency.
  • On-site workers: They are people who never work remotely.

In the 2020 State of Remote Work report, we surveyed 2,025 full-time workers in the United States between the ages of 21 and 65 at companies with 10 or more employees so we could learn more about who works remotely, why they work remotely, and how they have adapted to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keep reading to learn more about the adoption of remote work across various industries and to get a look at how the nation responded to the great remote work migration brought on by COVID-19.

Here are some of the key findings about remote work, hybrid teams, and work from home practices in 2020 and 2021. If you want to learn more, check out our guide to remote work and the pros and cons of working remotely from home.

WFA & Remote Work Statistics for 2021

  1. 1 in 2 people won't return to jobs that don't offer remote work. (Owl Labs)

  2. 79% of people wanted to work remotely in 2020 out of fear of getting COVID-19. (Owl Labs)

  3. 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, being able to WFH would make them happier. (Owl Labs)

  4. 2020 saw a 65% increase in remote workers making over $100K. (Owl Labs)

  5. If after COVID-19, respondents were no longer allowed to work remotely 66% would stay but be less happy, 54% would stay in their roles, but be less willing to go the extra mile, and 44% would expect a pay increase. (Owl Labs)

  6. 75% of people are the same or more productive during COVID-19 while working from home. (Owl Labs)

  7. In 2020, people are using video meetings 50% more than pre-COVID-19. (Owl Labs)

  8. During COVID-19, 94% of respondents used video conferencing the same or more than they had been and 60% of respondents used video more or much more. (Owl Labs)

  9. 80% agree or strongly agree with the following statement: “I think there should be one day a week with no meetings at all.” (Owl Labs)

  10. 74% agree or strongly agree with this statement: “I think we should have core hours, for example, four hours a day where we're available to colleagues and work on our own schedule the rest of the time.” (Owl Labs)

  11. 79% of respondents think video conferencing is at the same level or more productive than in-person meetings. (Owl Labs)

  12. 34% of people think video conferencing calls are more enjoyable than teleconferencing. (Owl Labs)

  13. 30% of full time workers think video conferencing calls are more enjoyable than in-person. (Owl Labs)

  14. 1 in 5 people report working more during COVID-19. (Owl Labs)

  15. On average, remote employees worked an extra 26 hours each month during COVID (nearly an extra day every week). (Owl Labs)

  16. 62% of respondents noted interruptions/being talked over as their top challenge from WFH during COVID-19. (Owl Labs)

  17. Health insurance is a deciding factor in employment decisions. When asked to rank benefits and perks in order of personal importance when considering new employers, 88% consider health insurance critically important. (Owl Labs)

  18. 88% of respondents chose health insurance as their top benefits and perks in order of personal importance, followed by 87% choosing total compensation and 76% choosing vacation policy. (Owl Labs)

  19. 71% of workers that their top concern for returning to the office was getting sick. (Owl Labs)

  20. According to 26% of respondents, the biggest difficulty reported by survey respondents during COVID-19 was having children at home, followed by more meetings than usual (26%) and not having worked from home before (26%). (Owl Labs)

  21. 57% of survey respondents were not concerned that working remotely would impact their career progression. (Owl Labs)

  22. 43% of respondents feared that working remotely would impact their career progression. (Owl Labs)

  23. 44% of survey respondents did not find it necessary to get dressed up (think: clothing, hair, makeup) for a video meeting. (Owl Labs)

  24. During COVID-19, 67% worked from their home office most often and 49% worked from their dining room or couch. (Owl Labs)

  25. If their company started monitoring their activity as a way to track productivity while working at home, 1 in 3 would be unhappy but would still stay and 43% would be unhappy or leave. (Owl Labs)

  26. 1 in 2 people would move if they were able to WFH all or most of the time. (Owl Labs)

  27. Working remotely saves 40 minutes daily on commute. (Owl Labs)

  28. When asked, “If you live in an urban area and could WFH all or most of the time, where would you move?” 50% said they wouldn’t move. (Owl Labs)

  29. When asked, “How fair do you think it is for your employer to make a cost of living adjustment (reduction in salary) if you moved to a less expensive area and worked solely at home?” 71% of respondents said it would be unfair to adjust their salaries. (Owl Labs)

  30. 44% of people would still move or consider it even if they had to take a cost of living salary adjustment or reduction. (Owl Labs)

  31. 1 in 4 people said they would take a pay cut of over 10% to stay working from home (WFH). (Owl Labs)

  32. 72% of all survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed. (Owl Labs)

  33. 77% report that working remotely would make them better able to manage work-life balance. (Owl Labs)

  34. After COVID-19, 92% of people expect to work from home at least 1x a week. (Owl Labs)

  35. After COVID-19, 80% of people expect to work from home at least 3x a week. (Owl Labs)

  36. In order to work from home at least some of the time, 31% of respondents were willing to take a pay cut of up to 5%, 26% were willing to take a pay cut of up to 5%, and 23% were willing to take a pay cut of over 10% (+15% from 2019). (Owl Labs)

  37. When asked, “Compared to how your employer felt before COVID-19, how do you think they will feel about allowing you to work from home, at least some of the time, post-COVID-19?” 81% think their employer will support it. (Owl Labs)

  38. During COVID-19, on average, people are saving $479.20 per month. This is almost $6,000 per year! (Owl Labs)

  39. When asked, “What impact does being able to work remotely some of the time have?” respondents report, 80% would feel like their employer cares and 74% would be less likely to leave their employer. (Owl Labs)

  40. When employees were asked what would make them more effective as a remote worker 32% chose remote training and 26% chose virtual meeting tools. (Owl Labs)

  41. Almost 70% of full-time workers in the U.S are working from home during COVID-19. (Owl Labs)

  42. Only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment, furniture, cable, chair. (Owl Labs)

  43. Eight out of ten full-time workers want one day a week without any meetings, and 70% agree that there should be a day each week without video meetings. (Owl Labs)

  44. 57% of respondents said that the audio quality of video conferencing is a challenge while WFH, and 56% said the video quality was a challenge. (Owl Labs)

  45. When asked if they felt more trusted at work while working remotely during COVID-19, more than three quarters of respondents said yes. (Owl Labs)

To learn more about remote work, read the full 2020 State of Remote Work report, and read about how to achieve remote work-life balance next.

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