rise of remote work

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Over the last couple of weeks, companies including Google, Microsoft, & JPMorgan have announced work-from-home until the end of the year, and large organizations including Twitter, Facebook, and Shopify even announced permanent remote work policies in response to COVID-19. This clearly shows that remote work is no longer the future of work — it is happening right now.

In January 2019, I was asked to manage the Remote Workers on LinkedIn group — since then, we’ve grown from a little over 2,000 members to currently more than 50,000 (aspiring) remote workers around the world. Their stories and insights are invaluable to help those who are considering to transition into remote work.

Remote work is no longer the future of work — it is happening right now. 

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing interviews with top remote work leaders, experts, and advocates worldwide to share their stories and insights to educate and inspire others who are making the transition into remote work.

To kick-off, I conducted an advanced LinkedIn Sales Navigator search based on the +50K member data of this group and an online survey covering the responses of 498 (aspiring) remote workers about the future of remote work post-COVID-19.

I’m excited to share my latest findings in this article below:

Remote work definition

First, let’s define remote work.

Recently, a friend of mine who works at Google asked me about the definition of remote work. It turns out, if you type “what is remote work?” into Google, it leads you to a Wikipedia page of telecommuting (primarily meaning “work from home”).

Here is my definition of remote work based on my experience working remotely for the past two and a half years (as quoted in Remoter: “The Why-and-How Guide to Building Successful Remote Teams”, 2020):

“Remote work means you have the freedom and the flexibility
to work from a place where you feel the happiest & most productive.”

I believe that remote workers should be able to work from wherever they feel the happiest and productive — whether that’s a cafe or a home office. The decision should be yours to make.

However, as companies are transitioning into remote work, they need to consider and clearly define what remote work exactly means for their organization in their remote work policies.

What are the Top Industries for remote workers on LinkedIn?

Now, let’s have a look at the demographic data of the group. I conducted a LinkedIn Sales Navigator search on July 1st, 2020 which includes LinkedIn data from +50,000 members of the Remote Workers on LI group.

The top 5 industries of remote workers on LinkedIn are:

  1. Information Technology & Services (12.3%);
  2. Computer Software (7.6%);
  3. Marketing & Advertising (6.6%);
  4. Financial Services (3.8%);
  5. Hospital & Healthcare (3.8%).

See below chart for more popular industries:

remote work trends 2020

What’s the company size for remote workers on LinkedIn?

Next, the data shows that the majority of remote workers on LinkedIn are currently employed at small to medium-sized companies with a headcount between 1 – 200 employees (51.1%), followed by large organizations of 10,000+ employees (21.6%). The smallest portion or remote workers are self-employed (4.5%).
remote work trends 2020

What’s the seniority level for remote workers on LinkedIn?

For job seniority, the data shows that a large number of remote workers are Senior-level (41%), followed by Entry-level (23.9%) and Director-level (8.5%). A potential explanation might be the popularity of remote work especially amongst younger generations such as Millennials and Gen Z who tend to hold Senior or Entry-level positions.
remote work trends 2020

What are the top job functions for remote workers on LinkedIn?

Furthermore, the top 5 job functions for remote workers on LinkedIn are:

  1. Business Development (19%);
  2. Sales (10.4%);
  3. Information Technology (9.5%);
  4. Operations (8.5%);
  5. Engineering (8.5%).

Other popular job functions include Marketing (8.5%), Media and Communication (7.6%), Human Resources (6.6%), Arts and Design (5.7%), and Education (4.7%) as shown in the below chart:

remote work trends 2020
The above data is interesting from both a demand and supply perspective as companies looking to hire remote professionals vs. professionals looking for remote opportunities might benefit from the above insights in their search.
 

What is their current remote work status? 

Now, let’s dig a little bit deeper and have a look at the insights gathered from the 498 online survey respondents acquired on behalf of Make the Leap Digital.

Here’s an overview of their current remote work status:

  • Works remotely for a company (54.8%);
  • Works remotely as a freelancer or contractor (19.5%);
  • Works remotely as an online business owner (6.6%);
  • Aspires to work remotely post-COVID-19 (19.1%).

Additionally, about 1 out of 3 remote workers have been working remotely between 1 and 5 years (32.7%), followed by less than a year (22.8%), between 5 and 10 years (18.4%), and more than 10 years (17.8%). Hence, remote work seems a sustainable career path for those aspiring to work remotely or hiring remotely.

 

Are remote workers tied to a specific time zone?

When asked whether remote workers are tied to a specific timezone, it seems that the majority (57.6%) have the freedom to design their own work schedule whereas 42.4% are tied to a specific timezone. However, the data shows that the #1 desired perk is having the freedom to work from anywhere without a specific timezone. Companies should take this into consideration when (re)defining remote work policies.

How much time do people like to work remotely pre- and post-COVID-19?

Remote work has become increasingly popular since COVID-19 as the below charts show that a little more than 2 out of 3 remote workers on LinkedIn (69.8%) ideally would like to have the opportunity to work remotely full-time compared to 52.5% spent working remotely pre-COVID-19. Additionally, companies should consider allowing a minimum of three remote workdays per week as per the below charts:
remote work trends 2020
remote work trends 2020

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into what drives people to work remotely and what are some of the top challenges:

What are the top benefits vs. challenges of working remotely?

Whilst companies can greatly benefit from remote work, including decreased real estate costs, lower carbon footprint, and attracting & retaining top talent, let’s have a look at the top remote work benefits from a professional perspective.

The top 5 benefits for remote workers on LinkedIn are:

  1. Not having to commute (85.3%);
  2. Freedom to work from anywhere (79.5%);
  3. Improved work-life balance (70.7%);
  4. Increased productivity (68.3%);
  5. Ability to work from home (64.3%).

Other benefits include improved overall happiness (63.9%), reduced feelings of stress (50.2%), having the flexibility to design your own work schedule (54.8%), and the ability to spend more time with friends and family (46.8%).

remote work trends 2020

The above chart shows that companies do not need to worry about employee productivity — rather, they need to invest in potential challenges to ensure a sustainable remote workforce.

Here are the top 5 challenges for remote workers on LinkedIn:

  1. Not being able to unplug from work (52.4%);
  2. Setting boundaries (41.2%);
  3. Feelings of isolation or loneliness (34.1%);
  4. Distractions at home (28.9%);
  5. Remote collaboration (24.9%).

Other challenges include timezone difference (20.9%), working from an ergonomic workspace (20.5%), communication with team members and clients (19.5%), finding reliable Wi-Fi (14%), and keeping up with motivation (13.8%).

Remote work trends 2020

What location do remote workers prefer to work from?

The majority of remote workers prefer to work from home (88.4%) followed by a co-working space (3.2%), or a local coffee shop (2.8%). However, the qualitative data shows that it’s really about the flexibility to work from anywhere — whether that’s from a home office, kitchen table, or while traveling in an RV truck.

What perks and benefits should companies offer to remote employees?

As companies are transitioning into remote work, companies need to adopt perks and benefits to align with a remote workforce and ensure that employees are both happy and productive while working remotely.

Here are the top perks and benefits according to remote workers on LinkedIn:

  1. Work from anywhere without specific timezone (71.3%);
  2. Wi-Fi reimbursement (67.5%);
  3. Home-office set-up fee (59.3%).

Other suggested perks and benefits are a co-working space allowance, wellness stipend (gym membership or spa), quarterly or (bi)annual in-person meetings for socialization, healthcare coverage, and a professional development stipend.

What’s the most important thing to consider for companies looking to transition to remote work? 

Transitioning into remote work is not only about the tools. Here are a few of the most important things to consider for companies looking to transition to remote work post-COVID-19:

  1. Have the right tools and systems in place (80.4%);
  2. Have a dedicated remote work policy (66.7%);
  3. Training of leadership team for remote (soft) skills (60.7%).

A few other important things to consider are training of employees for remote (soft) skills (49.7%), an online community for remote employees (35.3%), a dedicated remote work lead (30.1%), and providing an ergonomic workspace (29.9%).

Attitude towards remote work post-COVID-19

To conclude, the below charts say it all: 99% of (aspiring) remote workers want to work remotely, at least some of the time, post-COVID-19, and an impressive 98.6% recommend remote work to others.
remote work trends

What does this mean for you?

The above insights show that the world of work is changing and companies need to adopt a sustainable remote work policy if they want to meet the changing demands of the global workforce.

It is important to ensure that remote employees feel included as part of the wider organization and have equal access to career opportunities, networking, and perks & benefits as in-office employees.

Making the transition into remote work doesn’t happen overnight — management needs to lead by example and build trust between leadership and remote teams. And, above all, it takes a thoughtful consideration and plan of action.

This article is part of the Rise of Remote Work LinkedIn Newsletter covering stories and insights from remote work leaders, experts, and advocates around the world. Interested to learn more about remote work? Feel free to schedule a 30-minute strategy session or download your free remote work policy checklist.

About Mandy Fransz

Mandy Fransz is the founder & CEO of Make the Leap Digital, a boutique consulting firm helping businesses digitally transform the way they work. She manages the fast-growing Remote Workers on LinkedIn group (+50K members) and she has been featured in (inter)national media including VIVA400, LINDA, and AD Rotterdam. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

* Methodology: Part of the results of this analysis represents insights obtained from an advanced search in LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, on the Remote Workers on LinkedIn group (70% based in the U.S). As such, it’s influenced by how members choose to use the site, which can vary based on professional, social, and regional culture, as well as overall site availability and accessibility. The online survey was conducted amongst 498 (aspiring) remote workers on LinkedIn from June 17 until 30, 2020. This online survey is based on a Survey Monkey sample size calculator with a confidence level of 95% and an estimated 5% margin of error.

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