The past decade completely radicalized the future of work.

In 2013, a Stanford economics research team led by Nicholas A. Bloom connected with NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency to study the WFH model. In that two-year study, the agency saw a 13% increase in productivity including longer shifts, fewer breaks, and more calls per minute. Employees reported higher work satisfaction and stayed with the company longer. And the company saved roughly $2,000 per employee by reducing office space.

We know plenty has changed since 2013, but the questions still remain: are we ready for a remote-driven workforce? 

With 84% of people in our State of Remote Work report saying remote work after the pandemic would make them happier, it’s clear remote work isn’t going anywhere. Here are some hybrid and remote work statistics that may surprise you.

4 fast facts to know about hybrid work

  1. Of those that worked from home during the pandemic, 73% have returned to the office at least one day a week. (Owl Labs)
  2. 59% of remote teams work within a span of 2-5 time zones. (Buffer)
  3. Remote job posts on LinkedIn doubled between May 2020 to May 2021— from 6% of all job posts to 14%.
  4. The industries with the highest number of remote workers are healthcare (15%), technology (10%), and financial services (9%). (Owl Labs)

state of remote work 2021

Keeping productive while remote

It wasn’t too long ago when many dubbed remote work “shirk from home,” casting a stigma of hybrid workers as lazy. That stigma still exists even after a full year of successful hybrid working. And managers are worried: 36% of managers we spoke to are concerned about employee productivity and the same amount of managers are concerned about reduced focus.

But the workforce is quelling those fears. When asked about their own productivity since 2020, respondents answered:

  • 90% are as productive or more productive WFH compared to the office (Owl Labs)
  • 61% of workers say productivity has gone up (UpWork)
  • 32.2% of hiring managers say overall productivity has gone up in remote employees. And a follow-up survey of 1,000 hiring managers in November found that 68% said it was going better than when they first started working remotely (UpWork)
  • 45% report working more and 42% report working the same amount (Buffer)


Creativity and collaboration

Creative workers may be feeling the pressure on productivity more than others. 22% of respondents in a LucidSpark survey report WFH hurting their creativity—and 26% of managers agreed. 46% attribute their creative lull to less face time with their team. 44% reported feeling isolated from their colleagues’ goals and tasks. 

Upending the way teams work together has had some of the biggest impacts on productivity. 75% of remote employees in this same survey said team collaboration suffered the most in remote work. And 37% struggled from being unable to ideate in-person through valuable interactions like visual brainstorming. 

Tech and remote work

Are employees equipped with the right tools for remote work?

  • 42% of employees who have been WFH since the pandemic still lack office supplies and tech at home, with 10% reporting inadequate internet access (Microsoft)
  • 38% said that their employer provides video tech for better hybrid collaboration (Owl Labs)
  • 28% worry about not having the right technology tools to support hybrid work (PwC)
  • 46% say their employer does not help with remote work expenses (Microsoft)


People and benefits

It’s not just about how your company benefits—what are your employees gaining from a hybrid work model?


  • 32% selected the ability to have a flexible schedule as their top benefit, followed by 25% who selected the flexibility to work from any location (Buffer)
  • Employees want flexibility in location, benefits, and compensation, but companies aren’t delivering beyond location (PwC)



  • Of those that worked from home during the pandemic, 63% needed to provide care for children or a dependent during the pandemic (Owl Labs)
  • 48% of parents or caregivers pursued remote work specifically because of that role (Buffer)


Work-life balance

  • 46% of remote workers plan to move to a new location this year because they can now work remotely. (Microsoft)
  • 81% of respondents report that the number one reason they want a flexible job is to have better work-life balance (FlexJobs)
    Other top reasons: 
    • Improved mental health (70%)
    • Reducing commute stress (50%)
    • Having more time for family (47%)
    • Reducing their exposure to illnesses (like colds and the flu) (43%)


Challenges to hybrid work environments

Businesses are deep in the forming stage as they continue to experiment with hybrid and remote-first working environments. And it’s not all smooth sailing. 

Managing people

Your people may be connected to the VPN, but they’re having trouble connecting with each other

Per Buffer, the top challenges as a hybrid worker are unplugging after work (27%), difficulties with collaboration (16%), and loneliness (16%). 

And 20% of Microsoft’s respondents say their employer doesn’t care about work-life balance.

  • 54% feel overworked
  • 39% feel exhausted


Leaders are noticing it, too: 36% of executives told PwC their biggest challenge to hybrid work is the loss of corporate culture. 88% of that same group of PwC executives surveyed said they are experiencing higher turnover than normal.

Managers can work with their employees to find solutions that keep hybrid employees engaged and reduce turnover. For example, 24% of LucidSpark survey respondents were frustrated that meeting ideas were lost and not recorded. And 27% said drawing is one of their favorite ways to explain an idea. 

state of remote work 2021


There are still plenty of technology gaps in remote work, too. 54% of IT professionals consider remote work to be a higher security risk than traditional in-office work. And 24% of businesses haven’t updated their remote work security policies in more than a year.

A PwC survey of CIO/CTO and technology leaders identified tech and cybersecurity as top obstacles. 43% reported data privacy, cybersecurity, and compliance. And CIOs worry most about lost opportunities in digital upskilling and tech-driven experiences between remote and on-site workers in a hybrid work world.

What’s next for the digital workplace

Remote work isn’t going anywhere, and workers have made that clear. But what will it look like in the future?

From our State of Remote Work Report alone:

  • 46% of workers said they’d be willing to take a 5% pay cut to work remote at least part-time
  • 1 in 3 would quit their job if they could no longer work remote after the pandemic
  • 71% want a hybrid or remote working style after the pandemic is over
  • 39% of employers are requiring employees to be in the office full-time post-pandemic, but only 29% of employees want to be


Per Microsoft, 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are still craving more in-person time with their teams. 

  • 58% of respondents report wanting to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic (FlexJobs)
  • 21% of workers can’t do their job remote at all (PwC)

Smart businesses are recognizing the needs of their employees and adapting to hybrid work. A Mercer survey showed that 70% of employers they surveyed plan to adopt a hybrid work model. Only 20% of that pool will return to office-only work.

  • 66% of employers around the world are redesigning their physical office spaces for better hybrid working environments (Microsoft)
  • 33% are planning on a mixed model, with some in-person full-time, some hybrid, and some fully remote (PwC)


Building a hybrid workplace

The two-week “remote work experiment” that many embarked upon in March 2020 has blossomed into a new path for the future of work. We’re looking forward to seeing how new hybrid work environments grow and transform in 2022. The possibilities are endless!