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Across coworking spaces and home offices and living room couches and cafés, a growing battalion of workers are working remotely — and forcing professionals to rethink their relationship with the office.
Studies show remote workers are growing in number, quickly. While census data shows that 5.3 percent of the workforce works exclusively outside the office, additional research shows almost two-thirds of employees spend one or more days a week working outside the office.
We surveyed 1,000+ office workers to explore how the rise in remote work is changing our relationship with the office and discovered three key things:
Strikingly, the ability to work remotely emerged as a top workplace benefit with more than 70% of workers calling it a must-have perk.
Part of this comes down to convenience and flexibility remote work offers. But respondents also connected being able to control their work environment with being more productive.
“I sometimes find working outside the office allows me to focus more on my work, and less on the daily distractions of office life,” says Shannon Shankman, a marketing professional in Austin, TX.
The research backs this up. An oft-cited Harvard Business Review study of U.S. Patent and Trade Office workers found remote workers saw their productivity measurably increase. Other studies have found companies that offer remote work benefits see higher employee happiness and lower attrition rates.
Speaking to Recode, Eden Rehmet, a commodities broker in New York City who often works remotely, says, “I’m more productive [and] … have the ability to concentrate and create my own environment.”
So where are remote workers setting up shop? In our survey, we wanted to know where people are working outside the office — and how often during the work week they use those remote workspaces.
Here’s what we found:
In today’s world, most people are already “working remotely” whether or not they’re at the office.
“In reality, whether you’re nine feet, nine floors, or nine miles away, you’re probably communicating with colleagues remotely,” Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics, tells Recode. “The tools to make sure everyone succeeds are the same tools you need for working remotely.”
Those same tools mean most people are “always on” with work emails and Slack messages arriving on their phones during the mornings, nights and weekends. Taken together, the office is becoming just one more place where work happens.
“When I do work in the office, it’s mostly about working with others and getting face-to-face time,” says Justin Winslow, a user interface and web developer in Austin, TX, who frequently works remotely to avoid a traffic-fueled, two-hour commute. “But sometimes it’s just about having another place to work. Sometimes I need to get out of the house to focus, so I’ll head to the office or a coffee shop to change things up.”
The big thing, Winslow says, is making his work life work around his personal life, and not vice versa.
It’s something Shankman echoes. “Working remotely is convenient when I have an appointment or something else I need to tend to,” she says. “Plus, I have access to email and Google Hangouts wherever I am, so I can work from anywhere.”
But while she enjoys the flexibility, Shankman still sees the office as a place to be. “I value little things like having extra monitors at my desk,” she says. Plus, there’s the value of seeing people in person. “It’s nice to put a face to a name.”
Still, Shankman says being able to work remotely when she needs to is a definitive perk. “Would I give it up? No,” she says.
Learn more about what amenities, perks, workplace environments and technology top talent wants in the office in Hana’s white paper, Forget Foosball: People Want a Better Place to Work, Not Play.