8 Workplace Studies Proving That Remote Work Works

workplace studies

Does the telecommute lifestyle seem too good to be true? If you’re skeptical about all the remote work hype, check out these workplace studies that demonstrate how telecommuting positively impacts businesses and their workforces.

8 Workplace Studies Proving That Remote Work Works

Here at Virtual Vocations, we understand the value of telecommuting and how professionals in any occupation can benefit from remote work. Some of the major reasons that professionals seek telecommute careers include:

  • Better work-life balance
  • More time for family and pursuing interests
  • Take care of kids or relatives
  • Travel without taking time off or sacrificing pay
  • Avoid the daily commute and save money

Though we may be partial to the telecommute lifestyle, the results of many reputable research studies also suggest telecommuting is a valid work model that benefits both employers and employees. Not convinced? Check out this overview of eight independent workplace studies that have contributed to the mounting evidence that remote work works.

1. Stanford Graduate School of Business

Nicholas Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University, blew everyone’s mind when he reported his findings in Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment. His research group analyzed 249 call center workers at Ctrip, a giant Chinese travel agency with multiple offices within the country. Though Ctrip managers were open to testing a telecommute workforce to measure real estate and office expense cost savings, many were worried that employees would underperform, or evade their responsibilities altogether.

At the end of the study, however, managers were happy to discover the performance of their work-at-home staff had improved, and the company had saved some serious cash by offering a telecommute option. As such, Bloom’s study is often used as a baseline for employers to estimate cost savings when hiring remote workers.

Key findings:

  • Worker performance increased by 13% in nine months due to increased efficiency, and fewer breaks, days off, and sick days.
  • Worker attrition decreased by 50% due to improved worker satisfaction.
  • Company productivity increased by 20-30% and saved about $2,000 a year per employee.

Final Word: This study proves that working from home is a viable option for certain occupations, and can improve productivity and job satisfaction, and result in significant cost savings for employers.

2. International Workplace Group (IWG)

The International Workplace Group (IWG) provides flexible workspaces, collaborative communities, and strategic services to businesses around the world. Established in 2016, they are based in Switzerland and operate a half dozen different workplace brands, including Regus, Basepoint, and Open Office. In 2018, IWG surveyed over 18,000 workers in 96 countries to learn how and why individuals leverage flexible workspaces.

Results in The Workspace Revolution: Reaching the Tipping Point indicate that employees are more productive and achieve better work-life balance in flexible work environments. Additionally, businesses believe they can grow, stay competitive, and maximize profits while attracting and retaining top talent.

Key findings:

  • 81% of employees said that remote working locations help them achieve more work-life balance.
  • 82% of employees indicated flexible workspaces help boost their productivity.
  • 51% of employees also said that they worked at home whenever they weren’t at the office (the rest usually worked at a coffee shop, coworking space, business lounge, or library).
  • 80% of employers commented that a flexible office space helps retain top talent.
  • 89% of employers reported that remote working locations help optimize costs.

Final Word: Businesses around the world are embracing remote work environments to enter new markets, increase networking opportunities, attract top talent, increase productivity, optimize costs, and grow their businesses – and their employees are delighted.

3. Gallup

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report states that only one-third of employees are actively engaged at work. The rest are either disengaged or actively disengaged, which leaves them susceptible to poor performance and switching jobs when something better comes along. To keep employees pumped up, company leaders must understand what employees want and how to sustain their interest. For starters, work-life balance, flexible schedules, and flexible work locations are among the top benefits that determine whether an employee will stay or go.

Key Findings:

  • 53% of employees pointed to work-life balance as being very important when choosing a job.
  • 51% of employees said they would leave their employer if another company offered them flextime.
  • 35% of employees indicated they would change jobs if another employer let them work wherever they wanted full-time.

Final Word: To reduce employee attrition, employers should consider flexible work arrangements – regarding both time and location – to afford employees more work-life balance and improve overall job satisfaction. Telecommuting and flexible scheduling aren’t the only way to win employees’ hearts, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction.

4. McKinsey Global Institute

Besides building a career from home or anywhere in the world, digital work environments also help professionals achieve their dream of becoming independent workers, in other words, freelance or contract workers with a variety of income streams. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s 2016 study, Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy, one in six American and European professionals (approximately 42 million individuals) aspire to work independently.

The study identified four major categories of independent workers based on their interest and need for supplemental income: free agents, casual earners, reluctants, and financially strapped. Most professionals fall under the casual earner category, with free agents close behind. Regardless of the label, the study found workers who actively choose to be independent contractors tend to feel more job satisfaction than traditional employees.

Key Findings:

  • 20-30% of American and European workers (162 million individuals) perform independent work in some capacity.
  • 40% of independent workers (64 million individuals) prefer contract work arrangements for supplemental income.
  • 15% of all independent workers (24 million individuals) have earned income by using digital platforms, such as online marketplaces.

Final Word: Independent workers who choose that lifestyle tend to feel a greater sense of ownership over their lives and careers. They ranked schedule flexibility, level of empowerment, income security, and growth opportunity, all higher than traditional workers.

5. Buffer

Buffer, a social media traffic tool and team of online traffic experts, published their State of Remote Work 2018 Report: What It’s Like to be a Remote Worker in 2018 to showcase the pros and cons of telecommuting. They surveyed 1,900 remote workers in 90 countries and found that telecommuters love remote work and plan to stay in telecommute roles indefinitely. Plus, most part-time remote workers stated that they wanted to increase their telecommuting hours throughout the year. Business owners also showed support for remote work by recognizing the economic and productivity gains that telecommuting affords.

Key findings:

  • 94% of respondents are champions of remote work and encourage others to telecommute.
  • 43% said that schedule flexibility is the top benefit of remote work.
  • 54% of study participants reported earnings of at least $50,000 per year.
  • 81% of respondents stated that they work while they travel.
  • 21% said that both loneliness and collaboration/communication pose challenges for telecommuters.

Final Word: Telecommuters enjoy their working lifestyle and incorporate their careers into their home lives. They also earn competitive wages and enjoy the benefits of flexible schedules, travel, time with family, and continued remote employment. Employers also gain from high retention rates and happy employees.

6. CoSo Cloud

In 2014, CoSo Cloud (formerly ConnectSolutions) conducted a Remote Collaborative Worker Survey where they asked 353 individuals about the benefits of remote work. Overall, they found that telecommuters were happier, healthier, more motivated, driven, and efficient, and experienced significant annual cost savings. Employers benefitted, too, since their staff worked more productively and were less likely to take time off or leave the company.

Key Findings:

  • 30% of remote employees saved up to $5,240 annually by telecommuting.
  • 45% slept more at the time of the survey, and 53% experienced less stress.
  • 42% of telecommuters felt connected with their colleagues regardless of location.
  • 77% of employees worked more productively while telecommuting.
  • 52% of remote workers were less likely to take sick days or time off.

Final Word: Telecommute jobs can increase employee health, satisfaction, productivity, and annual earnings through significant cost savings. Employers also reap the rewards of their remote workforce through less turnover, improved efficiency, and happier, more dedicated employees.

7. Owl Labs and TINY Pulse

Owl Labs, creator of video conference hardware, teamed up with TINYpulse, an employee engagement software developer, to publish their State of Remote Work 2017 survey results, which focus on how businesses hire, manage, and retain employees. They found that small businesses are more likely to hire remote workers, and all companies, regardless of size, experience less attrition when they provide telecommute options.

On the employee side, remote workers find staying connected and maintaining relationships to be the biggest challenges, and they may have fewer conversations about career growth with their managers. Owl Labs has since published a 2018 report that expands its data globally and compares learning styles, job satisfaction, and productivity across 23 different countries.

Key Findings:

  • 51% of remote employees choose to telecommute for better work-life balance.
  • Remote companies hire employees 33% faster than other businesses.
  • Companies with telecommute options experience 25% less employee turnover.

Final Word: Remote work environments can expedite the hiring process and help businesses retain employees. As the digital landscape expands, and virtual workspaces become the norm, companies that hop on the telecommute bandwagon can enjoy lasting rewards and smoother growth.

8. Virtual Vocations

Though we may be biased when it comes to supporting remote work, we also collect data to understand how our telecommuting community approaches remote employment and why they pursue telecommute careers. In our October 2018 National Work and Family Month Survey results, we found that a majority of respondents had at least five years of telecommuting experience, worked in a home office, and held independent contractor positions. Most workers also reported having clear boundaries between work and home life, leaving plenty of time to spend with family.

Key Findings:

  • 65% of telecommuters performed their jobs in home offices
  • 54% of respondents were independent contractors
  • 43% of remote workers were caregivers for children or other family members
  • 68% of telecommuters could clock out and break bread with their family each night

Final Word: Telecommuting can help balance work and home life while building a professional career. Whether you prefer employee or independent contractor arrangements, you can find steady employment with flexible schedules in a range of industries.

Find Remote Work with Virtual Vocations

If you’re convinced that remote work can work for you, check out the current job openings in our telecommute job board! You’ll find thousands of remote positions across more than 40 career industries and can narrow your search results according to your work and lifestyle preferences. Register today to start fulfilling your remote work dreams!

Were you surprised by any of these workplace studiesConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us about the telecommute job you want. We’d love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: iStock.com/Dean Mitchell


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