Boston Consulting Group and The Network surveyed 208,807 employees in 190 countries from October to December 2020 and came up with a report on Decoding Global Ways of Working. Most of the respondents are from the U.S., France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Russia, Denmark, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The 2021 State of Remote Work report by Buffer with Doist, Remotive, and We Work Remotely surveyed more than 2,300 remote workers from October 14th, 2020, to January 4th, 2021. Among the respondents, 35.1 percent are from the U.S., 8.6 percent are from the U.K., 5.8 percent are from Spain, 4.8 percent are from Canada, and 4.6 percent are from India.
Flexjobs surveyed 2,181 employees from March 17 to April 5, 2021. Among them, 72 percent are from the U.S., four percent are from Canada, and 24 percent are from the rest of the world. All respondents were either working remotely during the survey or had experienced working remotely during the pandemic.
Findings from the three surveys provide a comprehensive view of global remote work and the preferences of remote workers. These can provide insights to employers on whether they will allow remote work to continue as more people get fully vaccinated.
Prevalence of Remote Work
The Global Ways of Working report showed that 49 percent of respondents worked completely onsite, 19 percent worked completely remotely, and 32 percent worked partially remotely. The top five countries with the greatest number of fully remote workers are the UK, Chile, Ireland, the Philippines, and almost a tie between Luxembourg and Poland. The top five countries with the largest number of hybrid workers are the Netherlands, the UK, Luxembourg, South Africa, and Ireland.
The State of Remote Work report showed that only 45 percent of the remote workers were doing so because of Covid-19. The majority were already working remotely before the pandemic.
Preference to Work Remotely
Among respondents to the Global Ways of Working survey, 89 percent prefer full or partial remote work if given a choice. Among them, 24 percent want fully remote work, but 25 percent prefer to work remotely only three days a week, 23 percent prefer two days a week, nine percent prefer four days a week, and seven percent prefer one day a week. In contrast, 11 percent want to work fully onsite.
The highest preference for fully remote work was among respondents from the Philippines, South Africa, Zambia, Romania, and India. The highest preference for hybrid work arrangements was among respondents from Zambia, the Philippines, South Africa, Angola, Mexico, and Singapore.
Flexible work hours are also a strong preference for 64 percent of respondents. Among them, 44 percent want a combination of fixed and flexible hours, while 20 percent want a fully flexible work schedule.
Among respondents to The State of Remote Work survey, 97.6 percent want to work remotely, even partially for the rest of their career. Also, 97 percent will recommend remote work to others.
Among the FlexJobs survey respondents, 98 percent want a form of remote work even after the pandemic, with 65 percent wanting fully remote work and 33 percent wanting hybrid work. Fifty-eight percent will look for another remote job if asked to return to onsite work.
Why They Prefer Remote Work
In the State of Remote Work survey, 32 percent of respondents stated that the greatest benefit of remote work is having a flexible schedule, 25 percent cited being able to work anywhere, and 22 percent liked not having to commute. Meanwhile, 11 percent cited being able to spend time with family, and eight percent cited being able to work from home.
In the FlexJobs survey, which is the most recent, 84 percent of respondents ranked not having to commute as the best benefit of working from home, while 75 percent cited cost savings. These are related because transportation costs add up. Going to the office also entails spending on food outside the home, as well as clothing and grooming. On the other hand, 38 percent of remote workers saved at least $5,000 in a year, and 20 percent saved more than $10,000.
Respondents know what they want to spend their money on as 37 percent stated they want to relocate if they have a permanently remote job. Among them, 58 percent want to do so for a better quality of life, 47 percent are seeking more affordable housing and a lower cost of living, 38 percent want to be in a better climate, 26 percent want to be nearer family and friends, and 14 percent want access to better schools.
It is easier to find an affordable house and lot for sale in the suburbs, where the cost of living is also less expensive. Remote workers renting in the city can now afford to instead purchase a home without worrying about a long commute. Furthermore, the suburbs have cleaner air and wider, greener spaces.
It is not surprising why remote workers prefer all these. Compared to commuting in inclement weather and in certain areas encountering flooding, working from home is a luxury. If they own that home in a beautiful suburb, life is sweet indeed.