REPORT: Remote Work Can Bring Benefits, but Attitudes Are Divided

It used to be that people punched in and worked away at their desks all day, but times have changed. Whether it’s to avoid the commute, leverage the quiet focus of working at home or simply to stay in pajamas all day, recent research shows that 70% of people work remotely at least once a week.

Many employers support and encourage remote work, as well. Flexible policies let employees choose where they will feel most productive and let companies hire the best talent for the job regardless of location. Cost savings are also a factor: Dell reports saving about $12 million per year in real estate costs by encouraging employees to work from home. The company would like to see 50% of its employees working at home at least a few days a week by 2020.

While remote work offers many benefits for employees and organizations alike, some companies prefer in-person employees. IBM, an early adopter of remote work, reversed its policy in 2017 by bringing thousands of workers back to the office, citing the need for teams to be in the same space to be successful. And Google discourages telecommuting on the basis that chance encounters between colleagues improve performance.

To learn more about the perceptions and experiences of remote work, we surveyed over 500 each of US employees and employers across a variety of industries. We found that most employees and employers see the benefits of remote work, in terms of both productivity and employee happiness. But there are downsides as well, and most people still don’t work from home.

A majority of employees can’t work from home but would like to

According to our survey, most people aren’t currently remote workers: Only slightly more than one-third of employees surveyed (37%) work for a company that has a remote-work policy. But this may soon change since almost half (47%) say that whether a company allows remote work is an important factor in choosing a job.

A majority of respondents who work for companies without a remote-work policy feel frustrated, with 52% saying they wish they could work from home. And they are motivated to make this happen: Of those who wish their current companies allowed remote work, 37% have considered looking for a job that does, and 14% are actively looking. What’s more, 40% of employees would consider taking a pay cut for the option to work remotely.

40% of employees would consider a pay cut to have the option to work remotely.

Three-quarters of remote workers cite work-life balance as the top benefit

Among employees who are allowed to work from home, the overwhelming majority (75%) say that doing so has improved their work-life balance. More than half say it reduces stress (57%), absences (56%) and sick days (50%) and improves morale (54%).

Employees don’t want to lose this benefit, either — almost one-third of remote workers (30%) say they would consider looking for another job if their companies took away the existing remote-work policy.

benefits of remote work according to employees

However, according to employees, working from home isn’t all upsides. Almost four in 10 (37%) people at companies that allow remote work believe working from home can result in less visibility and access to leadership. And…

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