2020 Remote Work Survey: What We Learned
2020 has been quite a year. Nearly every aspect of life has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the way people are working is no exception. With stay at home orders forcing companies to work remotely, and social distancing measures keeping teams dispersed, many people are navigating a new way of working in 2020.
At Hive, we surveyed nearly 300 workers to figure out just how much things have changed this year. Participants were given a unique set of questions depending on whether they were working remotely, going into the office, or doing a mix of both in a hybrid work model. Our participants span all ages, work in a variety of industries, and come from different levels of experience. We conducted this survey using a tool called SurveyAnyplace, which is a great option for customizable and user-friendly assessments of all kinds.
If you don’t read on to discover any other insights, the main takeaway is this: an overwhelming majority of people are working from home right now in some capacity. And here at Hive, we want to help these teams succeed. Our app helps teams collaborate and increase productivity in one single online dashboard, regardless of where people are located. That’s why we want to know 1) who is working remotely and 2) how can we make remote work as easy as possible. Here’s what we found out.
Who Is Working Remotely?
Remote work isn’t a totally new concept, but 2020 is the year it was normalized for most workers. Before the pandemic, the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 4.7 million people worked from home in America, making up only 3.7% of the workforce.
Our survey reflected just how significantly the pandemic has impacted remote work numbers. Of all the participants, 72% of people are working fully remote now, with an additional 21% working remotely at least part of the time. Even further, 79% of all participants who are working remotely said that it is because of COVID-19.
Remote Work Pros & Cons
As with most things, people have different preferences and feelings about remote work. Someone’s specific remote work experience can vary based on a number of factors, including access to resources, other people at home, or the type of work that has to be done. For instance, if your desk at the office has three computer monitors and is absolutely silent, you might have a hard time being productive on your laptop at home with two noisy children in the next room.
To help understand the pros and cons of remote work, we asked people to tell us which of the following advantages and challenges apply to their experience specifically. Here is a breakdown of the responses, ranked by popularity.
Top Remote Work Advantages:
- Saving time without a commute – 88%
- Flexible work hours – 66%
- Spending less money – 59%
- Spending more time with family at home – 56%
- Fewer distractions at home – 38%
Top Remote Work Challenges:
- Trouble unplugging from work – 63%
- Feeling lonely or socially isolated – 47%
- Feeling pressure to work longer – 33%
- Feel disconnected from organizational goals – 31%
- Trouble staying focused without an office – 30%
- Caring for a household/family at home – 30%
- Lack of a proper office setup – 27%
- Lacking motivation without a team – 27%
Despite these inevitable challenges, however, our survey showed that most people do enjoy working from home overall. In a later question, we asked remote workers how they feel about working from home. Responses show that 72% of remote workers do like working from home, while only 12% said they do not. The remaining 16% of respondents were indifferent.
Our survey results show that remote work is not only preferable for employees, but it also may improve productivity. 52% of remote workers said their productivity is the same as in an office, while 34% said they are even more productive while working remote. Alternatively, only 14% of people reported decreased productivity while working remote.
These findings correlate with other surveys, like this one from FlexJobs, where workers say they are just as productive while remote, if not more, when compared to working in an office. These insights suggest that remote work might be a way for business leaders to improve employee satisfaction, without diminishing productivity.
How Teams Are Working Together
Collaboration and communication is crucial to the success of remote teams. It may seem impossible to create the same team mentality from behind your computer screen, but our survey suggests that businesses are making it work. 86% of our survey respondents said they still feel connected to their coworkers, despite not working with them in an office.
Remote Work Tools
Without the ability to congregate for team meetings, or to stop by a coworkers desk for a quick question, teams must utilize innovative remote work tools to make sure information is distributed effectively. According to our survey, 84% of remote workers communicate via instant messaging, 81% use email, 76% meet over video, and 54% talk over phone calls.
But all of this communication requires the proper tools to make it happen. When asked about the specific tools they use to work remotely, here’s what we found:
- 62% of remote workers use a project management tool (like Hive 😎)
- 61% of remote workers use chat or instant messaging tools.
- 91% of remote workers use video conferencing tools.
Obviously work-related communication is necessary to get the job done, but feeling connected to coworkers is about more than just sending quick chats or attending virtual meetings. To build team morale and encourage relationships, businesses are intentionally planning activities and events for team members.
If the thought of doing a virtual team building activity makes you cringe, you might want to give it another chance. There’s a reason so many teams are planning them in 2020: it works. Of our participants:
- 79% of fully workers have done at least 1 virtual activity this year
- 69% of fully remote workers do at least 1 activity per quarter
- 45% of fully remote workers do at least 1 activity per month
And if you are imagining a boring Zoom bingo night, think again. Companies like Thriver are offering a wide range of virtual experiences that your team will actually enjoy, including cocktail making lessons, karaoke events, or yoga classes. Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time.
Work From Home Life
First thing’s first: is there a difference between remote working and working from home? Remote work is technically defined as the practice of employees working in a place that is not the organization’s usual place of business. This year however, with limited access to co-working spaces and coffee shops, the term remote work has become almost interchangeable with “working from home.”
The line between work life and home life in 2020 is blurrier than ever. As we mentioned earlier, issues of work life balance make up some of the top challenges for our survey participants. 63% of respondents had trouble unplugging from work, 33% feel pressure to work longer hours, and 30% are also responsible for caring for their families at home.
Who We Are Working With
We know that remote workers who spend all day alone can struggle with feeling lonely or socially isolated, while people working with children may feel the added pressure of caring for their families. So to better understand how many people are facing those various challenges, we asked about remote workers’ home environments. Of all remote workers who took our survey:
- 37% work at home alone
- 14% work at home with a roommate(s)
- 33% work at home with a significant other
- 14% work at home with children
Benefits Of No Commute
When we asked about advantages of remote work, 88% of people said they are able to save time without a commute. Commuting is not only time consuming, but it also adds additional financial costs. 59% of respondents said they are able to save money while working remotely, which is partially because commuting costs have basically been eliminated.
Of all respondents who are working fully remote right now, 45% used to commute by car and 46% used to commute by public transportation. Removing their commute has also eliminated the cost of gas, parking, or public transportation tickets.
When looking at the survey results as a whole, it’s clear that a majority of people are adjusting to new work environments, routines, and behaviors in 2020. We can also see that people have unique remote work experiences. Individuals and teams use different tools, have access to varying resources, and choose to communicate in different ways. This is important to keep in mind as businesses move forward and adapt to this new work environment. Because one thing’s for certain– remote work isn’t going anywhere.
If our survey interests you, we invite you to share our infographics. Who knows, maybe we will continue exploring this topic with a fun one question survey series, or by repeating the entire thing again next year. But in the meantime, leave us a comment if you have thoughts about how remote work has impacted you this year. We would love to hear from you!