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Social Media Says Remote Work Is Over. The Data Tells a More Interesting Story
Discover data-backed insights that challenge the mainstream perspective on the end of remote work.
Adam Nathan
Adam Nathan
min read

If you're only looking at the news and Twitter, you'd be forgiven for thinking that "remote work is over,"  or that the "remote work experiment has failed," as one prominent investor recently put it.

The question of where people are working is an important one. Billions of dollars in real estate, business investment, and consumer spending are wrapped up in the answer.

The reality, it turns out, is nothing like what people are saying. Here are 4 actual trends that might make your jaw drop:

Data shows remote work is holding steady, even growing.

Gusto reports data on fully remote work.

In Jan 2020, before the pandemic, an average of 6.6% of workers at the companies they serve had fully-remote paystubs.

In August 2022, before the end of WFH, it had soared to 15.3%. And in May 2023, mere weeks ago, it was 15.8%.

Remote work is over? Someone forgot to tell employers. And their workers.

Something doesn't add up here.

Remote Work Trends
Gusto's Remote Work Trends Data

The stats are even higher for tech employers:

12.9% worked remotely in Jan 2020 → 38.6% in Aug 2022 → 40.3% in May 2023.

When you include hybrid work, the story is even more striking.

McKinsey reported a year ago that of job holders in the United States, 58%—92 million people—say they can work remotely at least part of the time.

58 percent of US workers can work remotely
McKinsey's remote work availability report

According to LinkedIn, in the U.S. between January 2020 and March 2022, job postings that explicitly mentioned remote work increased by 319 percent.

Additionally, the career site Ladders reports that among high paying jobs ($100k+ annually), remote has grown from <4% to 15%.

Graph of high paying remote jobs available
Ladders' data on high-paying remote jobs

Data shows remote work is growing across professions. Not just tech.

Remote work is not just growing in the obvious remote-friendly professions (tech, business, architecture, media/entertainment, and law).

50% of people working in educational and library occupations, and 45% of people working in healthcare report work remotely at least some of the time, reflecting the rise of online education and telemedicine.

Surprisingly, even food preparation and transportation professionals said they do some work from home.

McKinsey's data on remote work availability
McKinsey's data on remote work availability

A NBER research paper published in April 2023 has similar findings.

Remote work has grown since 2019 in every economic sector, even food preparation (2.5x), farming (1.9x), factory production (3x):

NBER's data on job postings that offer hybrid or remote work
NBER's data on job postings that offer hybrid or remote work

Data shows remote work is growing across the country. Faster outside of major metros.

Gusto reports every major American city has seen remote work increase by at least 10% since the start of the pandemic.

The states with the highest growth are bedroom communities that used to require commuting to a major metro, like:

  • Connecticut (Hartford's remote % is at 24%),
  • Massachusetts (Boston's at 22%),
  • Georgia (Atlanta at 22%)
  • North Carolina (Raleigh (23.3%)
Map showing remote work across the continental US
Gusto's map of the geographic distribution of remote work

An NBER paper shows that remote work has grown faster outside the US in countries like the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia (in fact, the growth of remote work in each of these countries appears correlated with the severity of their initial COVID-19 outbreaks):

Graph of the rise of remote work across the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand since 2020
NBER's data on the rise of hybrid and remote job postings since 2020

That same paper found major variances in the availability of remote work by city:

NBER's data on hybrid and remote work availability by major metro areas

Data shows remote is popular with employees.

In McKinsey's study, 87% of respondents who had the opportunity to work flexibly, either fully remote or hybrid, took the offer.

Data showing that 87% of workers take the offer to work remotely
McKinsey's data on the percentage of workers that take the offer to work remotely

Their report saw remarkable consistency across people of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and educational and income levels: the vast majority of those who can work from home do so.

This mirrors' LinkedIn's data with an even larger sample size:

Graph showing that 87% of employees want to remain remote
LinkedIn's data on the percentage of employees who want to remain remote

LinkedIn's data shows just how popular remote work is for workers.

They found in January 2023 that less than 20% of the jobs posted on LinkedIn were for remote positions. Yet, that small number of available jobs – only 1 out of every 5 – received more than 50% of the applications across their entire site.

Chart displaying data about remote jobs posted on LinkedIn
LinkedIn's data on remote jobs posted on its site

That's because studies have found that beyond better pay and overall opportunity, flexibility in work was the top employee demand.

The major differences in remote work affinity were seen in age:

  • Age: 19% of 55-to 64-year-olds didn’t take it of remote work vs. 12% of younger workers
  • Income: 17% of those earning under $75k didn't take remote work, v. only 10% of those earning over $75k annually

While some workers may choose to work in an office because they prefer the environment, others may feel compelled to because their home situations aren't suitable, they lack the skills and tools to work remotely productively, or because they believe there is an advantage to being on-site.

The bottom line: don't believe the hype. Remote work isn't going anywhere. No matter what you hear on social media.

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