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:
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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):
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:
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):
That same paper found major variances in the availability of remote work by city:
In McKinsey's study, 87% of respondents who had the opportunity to work flexibly, either fully remote or hybrid, took the offer.
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:
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.
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:
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.