Remote work trends and stats for 2020

One of the biggest workplace trends to watch for 2020 is remote work, according to new data. A Swiss survey found that 70 percent of employees work remotely at least once a week, a fact that suggests that the impact of remote work spreads far beyond the independent contractor or freelancer relationships that come to mind when many people think of remote work. Eighty-two percent of those who telecommute say they have less stress in their lives. Explore why remote work is hot right now, the fastest growing jobs for remote work, and the right tools to support a flexible team.

The Rise of Remote Work

Companies are recognizing the benefits of allowing for remote work when expanding their workforce. With the rise in tools that support flexible, remote, and work at home arrangements, companies are beginning to feel as though flexible work arrangements are no longer “less than” office-based work.

Thus far, almost two-thirds of U.S. companies have some amount of remote employees. By 2025, the number of people working from home or remotely is projected to surpass the number of people commuting to office jobs.

Many of the fastest-growing jobs, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, offer opportunities for flexible work. Flexible work arrangements vary in structure depending on the employer, but often include arrangements such as:

  • Freelance 
  • Part-time 
  • Work from home 
  • Remote work

These rapidly rising jobs, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, have protected growth rates above 23 percent. This spells good news for employees who are seeking flexible work arrangements.

Fastest Growing Flexible Work Jobs

The jobs that are currently growing the fastest might not be what you expect when you think of flexible or remote work. Several healthcare jobs top the list, including: 

  • Home health aides (projected growth rate of 37 percent)
  • Physician assistants (projected growth rate of 31 percent)
  • Nurse practitioners (projected growth rate of 28 percent)
  • Speech language pathologists (projected growth rate of 27 percent)
  • Genetic counselors (projected growth rate of 27 percent)
  • Medical assistants (projected growth rate of 23 percent)

Other flexible jobs with above-average rates of growth are based in technology and big data, including: 

  •  Information security analysts (projected growth rate of 32 percent)
  • Statisticians (projected growth rate of 31 percent)
  • Mathematicians (projected growth rate of 26 percent)
  • Operations research analysts (projected growth rate of 26 percent)
  • App developers (projected growth rate of 26 percent)

While their growth rates may not be as high as the professions mentioned by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs like these offer tried and true opportunities for remote workers: 

  • Marketing 
  • Finance 
  • Content writing 

Top Benefits of Remote Work 

Remote work saves companies and employees time and money. Employees value flexibility, freedom, the chance to set their own hours, the ability to work from anywhere, and the chance to save money. Top drivers for employees to work from home include better work/life balance, greater productivity, more focus, and reduced commuting time (which leads to more time with family). 

Close to two-thirds of employees who work remotely say they would not go back to an office setting, while 33 percent say they would be open to traditional working arrangements in the future. Employees say they are able to be more productive when working remotely, while still enjoying new professional challenges, including opportunities for advancement. 

Employers who are open to flexible and remote work will benefit for several reasons. Chief among them, they stand to save big when employees work from home–Dell, for instance, reported saving $12 million in real estate due to the rise of work-from-home arrangements. The technology company stated that it would like to see 50 percent of employees working from home at least part-time by the end of 2020. Employers also save on equipment, as those who work from home can supply their own devices. 

Another surprising way employers could save is on paychecks: Owl Labs found that 34 percent of employees would take a pay cut (of up to 5 percent salary reduction) to be able to work from home. 

Happier and more engaged employees show up to 63 percent reduction in absenteeism, per the American Management Association. A study from American Express and CoSo Cloud found productivity improvements of 20 percent to 77 percent with remote work, and a study from Owl Labs found that remote workers were 29 percent happier than employees with traditional work schedules. Since remote work reduces absenteeism and leads to happier moods, organizations see less turnover as a result of offering remote or flexible work arrangements. 

Despite these benefits, working from home full time poses challenges. Employees don’t have the same chance encounters that spark friendships or great ideas, and lower-level employees may not have access to senior leadership the way they would if they gathered in weekly meetings. Some of these hurdles can be overcome with technologies for teamwork such as a whiteboard app

Remote Work Trends for 2020 

Remote work trends for 2020 strive to bridge the gaps between working from home and working in the office.

Given the rise in the number of companies that offer remote work, most businesses are experiencing challenges that accompany the need to accommodate a team that’s partially remote and partially office-based. These differences can be overcome with new technologies that enable video conferencing or online collaboration, including a web whiteboard

FastCompany forecast a major trend of people enablement in 2019, which they expect to continue in 2020. People enablement encourages employee to chart their own path to success rather than waiting for top-down directives. Companies can create a culture of people enablement by increasing professional growth opportunities, building a strong and inclusive company culture, and being clear about business strategy and objectives. This new trend will help employees succeed when working remotely, where top-down guidance, if it comes, is likely to be delivered via email or video conference. 

Digital water coolers, including existing channels such as Slack, are rising up to stand in for the sort of traditional workplace chance interactions that are lost in the switch to remote work. To foster collegiality businesses are hosting video conferencing meetings with whiteboard and chat capability, essentially turning office meetings into coffee breaks where the objective is less to make progress on a goal than to socialize with teammates. 

As the number of remote workers rises, investing in the technologies that support remote work will no longer be optional for companies. Given that operational costs decrease with remote work, since businesses can scale down their office space since a percentage of employees work from home, companies can redirect a percentage of their savings to invest in the tools they need to help employees succeed with remote work.