The fully remote company, Buffer, makes a laudable workplace research contribution each year. They conduct an in-depth survey of thousands of remote workers. This year, the survey included 3,521 remote work employees across many nations, industries, organizations, and levels of experience. Of those:
- 57% are fully remote
- 25% work remotely at least 51% of the time
- 8% work remotely 26-50% of the time
- 10% work remotely 1-25% of the time
It’s also helpful to know that only 3% of those surveyed were solo business owners or freelancers. This survey is focused on remote workers who are part of larger teams. Here are our top takeaways from the report, which you can read in its entirety here.
Remote workers are happy with their decision.
98% of respondents said they would like to continue working remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers. 97% said they’d recommend remote work to a friend. Only 11% of those surveyed said they’d like to spend less time working remotely. While 19% said they’d like to work remotely more often.
Flexibility and the commute-free life are the biggest upsides.
The top three benefits of remote work, according to respondents are:
- Flexible schedule (32%)
- Flexibility to work anywhere (26%)
- Absence of a commute (21%)
Coworking spaces might not be as important as they seem.
“In the past three years, we haven’t seen more than nine percent of respondents claim that coworking spaces are their primary location for working,” the report reads. The authors find this “surprising, considering that some reports say that in the next two years there will be nearly 26,000 coworking spaces around the world.”
The two biggest challenges are loneliness and difficulties with collaboration.
“Over the past three years of putting out this report,” the article reads, “we’ve seen two unique struggles remain in the top three: the difficulties with collaboration/communication, and with loneliness.”
In 2020, loneliness and difficulties collaborating were tied for first place on the list of remote work challenges, with 20% of respondents citing each one as their top challenge. In 2019, these two issues took second and third place, respectively.
“Unplugging after work,” which was the number-one challenge in 2019, may have become a little easier for remote workers in 2020, taking third place this year instead. It’s worth noting here that last year, only 30% of the respondents were fully remote, whereas this year, that percentage rose to more than half. This could signal that loneliness and difficulty communicating/collaborating become bigger challenges for fully remote workers.
Two birds with one solution?
Both loneliness and collaboration/communication difficulties can be alleviated with well-designed video conferencing technology. Email alone is insufficient. Face-to-face contact through video-calls with HD video and audio can reduce loneliness. In addition, features such as screen sharing and recording can provide a comprehensive way to collaborate effectively.
With this rise in remote work, it is important for organizations to understand the challenges and explore technologies that can help employees through this transition. If your company does not have technology tools already in place, there are inexpensive (or free!) ways to acquire these tools for your team, as an immediate fix.