Not all that long ago, many office-bound workers dreamt of what it would be like to work from home, fantasizing about eliminating the daily commute, the flexibility of a work-from-home schedule, not to mention the thrill of taking a call in your pajama pants. Just imagine!
And then 2020 hit, and with it came the COVID-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, about 71% of workers switched to a work-from-home lifestyle. Before the Coronavirus outbreak, only about 20% of people worked from home, so this marked a significant increase in telecommuting.1
Now, COVID-19 restrictions are easing around the country, and small business owners are wrestling with how — and whether — to return to the office.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the work from home vs. work from office dilemma, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each approach for employees.
Working from home vs. office statistics
COVID changed many things about daily life, including the way millions of people in the U.S. worked.Here are a few working from home vs. office statistics to know if you’re considering a change in your work location:
- 62% of workers rarely or never worked from home before the COVID-19 outbreak.2
- Only one in five workers say they worked from home all or most of the time before COVID, while 18% reported working from home some of the time.
- By April of 2020, A Gallup poll found that 70% of US workers were already working remotely. By September of the same year, the number had fallen to 58%. By January of 2021, 56% of workers reported working at home “always” or “some of the time.”3
- Demographics with higher levels of education and income were the most likely to report working from home all of the time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- About 60% of workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher levels of education could perform their jobs from home, compared to 51% of workers with less education.
- 18% of adults who are still teleworking don’t have a workplace outside the home. About 50% of this group is self-employed.
Of the workers who switched to a work-from-home model during the pandemic, about 54% say they’d like to continue working from home all or most of the time, even after their workplaces reopen.
What are the benefits of working from home vs. being in the office?
When it comes to the work-from-home lifestyle, people tend to be fairly polarized on the topic: some love it, and some can’t wait to get back into a brick-and-mortar office.
Still, working from home does present some serious benefits for both companies and employees.
Most notably, working from home allows people to eliminate time and money spent on daily commutes. As a result, many workers report being better-rested and able to devote more time to their daily work.
Additionally, working from home tends to increase productivity and focus. In fact, people working from home spend 12% less time attending meetings and 9% more time communicating directly with external partners, customers, and other stakeholders important to their company’s success.4
Finally, there’s the issue of flexibility. People working from home generally have much more flexible schedules than people working in offices. This means that they can achieve a better work-life balance, spend more time with children and family members, and make space for other important things during the day.
For companies, allowing people to work from home provides many benefits. These include increased employee loyalty and retention, lower overhead costs (less need for office space, etc.), and access to a much larger talent pool since hiring doesn’t need to be local.
What are the costs of working from home vs. in an office?
In addition to improving time management, focus, and work-life balance for employees, working from home is also less expensive than being in a traditional office. Here are a few of the overhead costs working from home can help save both companies and employees:
- Renting or leasing an office or coworking space
- Gas, tolls, fees, and other expenses associated with commuting
- Daily meals out
- Professional wardrobes
While these things seem simple, they can add up. One study found that companies that allowed employees to work from home even 50% of the time would save an average of $11,000 per employee each year. The same study also found that each work-from-home employee would save between $2,000 and $7,000 annually.5
That’s not to suggest that working from home does not have some downsides for small business owners. Some people find it difficult to adjust to a remote workforce, while others dislike working with project management software or find it difficult to track workflow in a remote workforce environment. Still others simply miss the camaraderie and collaboration of an in-office setting. Water cooler chat, anyone?
Can you be productive working from home?
Even before COVID-19 inspired a widespread obsession with customized Zoom backgrounds, work-from-home productivity was a hot topic for companies throughout the country.
Could workers stay on task if they weren’t in the office? Was it possible that working from home could actually make them more productive?
The resounding answer seems to be, yes. Here are a few stats to back it up:
- Nearly one in four virtual work-from-home workers are willing to work longer hours than they would in an office.
- 80% of work-from-home employees experience less work-related stress, allowing them to focus more on the tasks at hand.
- 77% of virtual workers report being more productive — even when sick.6
- Working from home leads to a 13% increase in performance.7
- Remote work results in 50% lower attrition.
- Employees who have the option of working from home at least one time each month are 24% more likely to feel happy in their roles.
While the work from home vs. work from office model is a new concept to many US companies, allowing employees to telecommute may be one of the most effective ways to encourage productivity and focus at each level of an organization.
Work-from-home: the way of the future
Even as U.S. workplaces open their doors once more, many employees are reluctant to give up the perks of a work-from-home arrangement.
If you’re a small business owner finding that your team is struggling to adapt to reopening, now is a great time to communicate with your team and find a remote or hybrid arrangement that works for everyone involved.
If you’re a freelancer, working from home is probably the norm, and it will only become more commonplace in the future. With that in mind, make sure you’re protecting your vocation with the right business insurance and, yes, go right ahead and keep on responding to those emails while sporting your favorite sweatpants.
- Pew Research Center. How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has—and Hasn’t—Changed the Way Americans Work.
- Pew Research Center. How the Coronavirus Outbreak Has – and Hasn’t – Changed the Way Americans Work.
- Gallup. Majority of U.S. Workers Continue to Punch In Virtually.
- HBR. Research: Knowledge Workers Are More Productive from Home.
- Global Workplace Analytics. Latest Work-At-Home/Telecommuting/Mobile Work/Remote Work Statistics.
- SHRM. Study: Teleworkers More Productive—Even When Sick.
- Email Analytics. 15 Working From Home Productivity Statistics.