Statistics surrounding remote working are fairly easy to come by, with 70% of workers reporting to work remotely at least once a week in one CNBC article. You’ve probably also seen the huge range of statistics that cover all aspects of remote working and how positive the outcomes are for those who do it. So the fact it’s growing year-over-year is no surprise.
But what is life like for today’s remote worker? Do people sit around in pajamas all day long, or are they treating remote work as a normal workday? To answer these questions, we surveyed 1,035 remote workers about their experiences to uncover some of the aspects of being remote that don’t often get spoken about.
The Secrets Of Remote Working
The common belief that remote workers spend most of their time in their pajamas appears to be an accurate one; with over 65% of respondents answering that they have indeed worked in their pajamas. Women are the most likely to, with 70.6% admitting to doing so, compared to 59.9% of men.
Another aspect of remote working that often gets talked about is remote workers making a conscious effort to “appear” to be working when they aren’t. Our survey found that there is some truth to this, with more than 1 in 5 (22%) remote workers confirming that they have nudged their mouse or keyboard so they appear online. Those in large companies confirm they have done this most often (28.4%) compared to those in smaller companies who are below average in this respect (19.9%).
The Positives Of Working Remotely
Don’t go drafting a strict no-nap or pajama etiquette policy just yet. The affordances of being a remote worker can have a profound impact on both businesses and their employees. To explore this further, we wanted to find just how people’s lives have changed as a result of working remotely.
Our survey found that the biggest positive of working remote is on an employee’s mental health. A total of 60% of respondents felt that they had improved their mental health by being out of the office. Interestingly, those who work remote full-time were less likely to report an improvement in mental health (56.2%) compared to those who work remotely either ‘often’ (64.6%) or ‘rarely’ (57.4%).
The improvement in someone’s life is also closely linked with how large the company is that they work for. Excluding freelancers from this group (who may have chosen to be a remote freelancer for various reasons) we’ve looked at how the positives stack up for people at large, medium, and small businesses.
The size of the company someone works for has a direct impact on how positive their remote working experience is going to be. Remote workers at small businesses reported the least number of positive outcomes (43%), with it rising marginally for those in medium sized businesses (46%) and peaking much higher for those in large businesses (55%).
Additionally, between age groups, our survey found some big differences between generations. While 63% of those under 25-years-old say they benefit from being able to spend more time with friends and family, just 44% (the second-lowest of all the age groups) say they feel more productive as a result of working remotely. Interestingly, while millennials are often spoken about in relation to mental health, 25- to 34-year-olds are the least likely to say they have seen a mental health benefit from working remotely, with just 56% of respondents saying they experienced an improvement in their mental health as a result of working remotely.
The Negative Side Of Remote Working
While there are clearly many positives to working remotely, there are also downsides. The most prevalent being loneliness, with almost 39% of remote workers saying they had felt lonely while working remotely; rising to as much as 49% in remote workers under the age of 25, compared to 45% of full-time remote workers.
Struggling to build or maintain work friendships is the next biggest problem facing remote workers. 1 in 3 (33%) respondents said they had struggled to make friends while working remotely, with male remote workers (35%) more likely to struggle to make and form bonds than their female counterparts (30%). As expected, this is more challenging for those who work full-time or remotely ‘often’ (34%) compared to those who are rarely remote (28%).
Just over one in four remote workers (28%) also feel the need to overwork in order to combat a negative image that they feel being a remote worker gives them. This increases for those who are part of a large organization (32%) rather than those at smaller organizations (21%). This suggests that more visibility within the company also leads to a greater sense of trust, whereas those in large companies (where performance metrics are the norm) feel they have to push harder to be viewed equally.
Up until traditional retirement age, there are consistent patterns that follow through age groups as we grow older. Younger generations are the most likely to experience loneliness (49%) as part of working remotely, whereas this figure steadily decreases as we age (presumably through having families and other members in the household) down to 32% for baby boomers and 0% for those working in their retirement years (65+). However, the number of people who feel the need to answer more emails and/or messages as part of being remote also increases as we age, jumping from 27% in Gen Z to 46% of baby boomers.
When studying the percentage of remote workers who have reported at least one negative of being remote, we found a strong link between age groups. For those in the younger generations, 92% reported a negative impact on their lives as a result of remote work, with this dropping to a low of 79.7% for those in Generation X, and 61.5% for those in their retirement years.
To conduct our study, we surveyed 1,035 remote workers across all age groups. Our survey included an option to discover how often people worked remotely. We then filtered out all results for people who said they “never work remotely” to give us our isolated results. The audience included a breakdown of the following:
- 40% of respondents work remotely full time, while 46% work remotely “often” and 14% work remotely “rarely.”
- 25% of our respondents work as freelancers; 33% part of large companies; 21% from medium-sized; and 20% from small businesses.
- Over 46% of respondents were aged between 25–34; 22% between 35–44; 18% 18–24; 8% between 45–54; 4% between 55–64; and 1% over 65.
- 56% were male and 44% were female.
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