The State of Remote Work Q1 Report - April 2021

State of the Remote Work Reports

Welcome Back to Another Edition of Our State of Remote Work!

We’re now in our third edition of the State of Remote Work report (thank you for joining us again if you’re back for a third time 😀). 

With COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise, many people are looking forward to returning “back to normal.” But there’s one evolution that will continue long after the pandemic fades away: the popularity of remote work.

Rather than heading back to stressful commutes and tiny cubicles, many top companies plan to embrace remote work well into 2021 and beyond. Employees have taken a liking to working from home (no surprise there, right?) and stats show the remote workforce has been especially productive for business.

So in today’s 2021 Q1 report, we’ll dive into what the remote work landscape looks like a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a rundown of everything on the docket: 
  • The Top Remote Work Trends
  • How The Pandemic Is Still Impacting Remote Work One Year Later
  • The Top Companies Choosing To Stay Remote
  • Six Trending News Stories On Remote Work
  • Thank you for joining us and let’s jump into the State of Remote Work in 2021


1. Remote work will become the norm in 2021.
As Upwork statistics show:
  • 56.8% of people are working remotely on a part-time basis
  • 41.8% are fully remote
Forbes recently reported that:
  • The number of people working remotely is expected to double in 2021.
  • 74% will permanently move employees to remote work well after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.

And according to one survey, high-level managers predict 26.7% of their workforce will continue to work fully remote in 2021.

2. Employers will have 36.2 million employees working remotely by 2025.
Back in February 2020, when the pandemic was just starting to stretch across the globe, it was estimated that 19.5 million people would be switching to remote work. This number is now expected to grow to 36.2 million (22% of Americans) by 2025 — an increase of 16.7 million just five years later. That’s an 87% increase from pre-COVID-19 levels, proving remote work will keep trending well into the future.

Research from Forbes also shows that 70% of the workforce will work remotely by 2025.

And when Upwork asked 1,500 hiring managers if they were going to add more remote workers to their team in the following years, nearly 62% said yes.

3. The need for large office spaces will disappear; companies sticking with offices will need a radical redesign.
Companies that don’t fully embrace remote work will need to optimize and redesign their workplaces to keep up with the times. Anna Convery-Pelletier, the CMO of Radware, believes:

New hybrid workspaces will begin appearing.  This model means employees will work mostly remote and only head to the office for collaboration and brainstorming sessions, in-person meetings, new project rollouts, and team-building exercises. When the hybrid workforce returns to the office, they’ll need rooms and equipment to help them brainstorm together. See ya, solo cubicles!

So even though remote workspaces will dominate in 2021, traditional, pre-pandemic office spaces may be put to rest when new hybrid workspaces take their place.

4. Employees prefer remote work and (bonus!) they’re more productive doing so.
Despite working remotely and out of management’s watchful eye, companies are seeing high productivity rates from employees working at home. When 10,000 employees were surveyed, 30% admitted that they were more productive working out-of-the-office. And in another survey of 9,000 employees in six countries, 72% said they preferred this style of work, especially a hybrid model.

Buffer stats also show that 97.6% of employees would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their career! That number soars to 99% for employees who worked remotely before COVID-19.73% raved about how successful working remotely has been for their company’s overall benefit.

5. Remote employees are working longer hours, increasing the risk for burnout.
Even though there are so many positives that come with remote work, there is one growing downside that should be discussed and addressed ASAP: employee burnout.

A staggering 45% of remote employees surveyed said they’re working more hours and attending more meetings than when they worked on-premises, according to research conducted by Buffer.

Remote employees frequently work when they would otherwise be commuting. And many never clock out for the day, feeling required to check emails and answer messages at all hours and during weekends.

This steady stream of work and “always on” mentality means employee burnout has become a serious issue for employers with remote teams.

Employers must proactively combat this issue before it’s too late and they end up losing great employees to burnout. To do that, try to:
  • Adopt an asynchronous communication style where you don’t expect immediate responses and allow people to work when it’s best for them.
  • Keep an eye on employee work hours, even if you’re not using time-tracking software

Your employees shouldn’t be working excessive hours. So if they’re racking up 12-hour+ days, have a virtual sit-down to let them know you’re concerned and want to help.

Make sure your project managers, team leaders, and employees know that you don’t want them to experience burnout or other negative consequences of remote work. Consider hosting team-building virtual workshops that emphasize a healthy work-life balance, and you’ll keep everyone happy and excited to perform their best.

One Year Later: How COVID-19 Is Still Impacting the State of Remote Work

We know that remote work was already on the rise pre-pandemic. However, if there was a silver lining to COVID-19’s grip on the world, it’s that:

  1. Remote work=working with killer benefits. Employees told Buffer the biggest perks to working remotely include the flexible schedule (32%), the flexibility to work anywhere (25%), and not having to commute (22%). This may be why 97% of people surveyed would recommend working remotely to others, and 97% said they’d like to continue working remotely even after the pandemic settles down.
  2. 9 billion hours of commute time saved! Many employees saved an average of 40 minutes in commute time when they worked remotely during the pandemic. This resulted in a combined workforce total of 62.4 million hours saved per day and 9 billion hours saved in six months. Americans are using that time to tend to their new hobbies, work out, create viral TikTok videos, homeschool kids, and more.
  3. Working from home helped employees save an average of $500 per month during COVID-19. When they didn't have to pay for lunch out, gas, parking, car upkeep, and work clothes, remote employees saved close to $6,000 in one year.
  4. The new class of working, stay-at-home parents grows. Buffer says 48% of parents and caregivers pursued remote work specifically to spend more time with loved ones during these uncertain times without sacrificing a paycheck.
  5. Global collaboration is at an all-time high. A surprising 73% of remote workers informed Buffer that their company and teams operate in multiple time zones during the workday.
  6. Remote employees are happier and stay in their jobs longer, a survey from Owl Labs suggests. Work from home employees reported being happy 22% more than workers who always work on-site at the office.
  7. But the struggle with loneliness is real. Buffer surveys show 16% of remote workers struggle with isolation, which was only compounded by lockdowns and the inability to socialize at happy hours during the pandemic.

So even though we haven’t returned to “normal” just yet, the overall result of this virtual transition and the workarounds to combat some of the negatives may turn out even better.

10 Well-Known Companies Keeping the Remote Work Trend Alive In 2021

Many top companies are still planning to stay remote well into 2021. Here’s a list of the top employers planning to keep this trend going and protect their teams:

  1. Microsoft is giving employees the option to work from home full-time with approval. Otherwise, most employees can work a part-time hybrid model. They also have the option to relocate, but their salaries may be adjusted based on where they settle down.
  2. Spotify team members can decide whether they want to work full-time from home, at the office, or part-time at both.
  3. Twitter higher-ups gave their employees the green light to work from home indefinitely if they choose to forgo the office life.
  4. Facebook is somewhere in the middle; they’re only allowing certain employees the option to work from home full-time while others must still commute.
  5. Google stretched its remote policy into September of 2021. The tech giant plans to adjust accordingly, so their team can work remotely indefinitely if they’d like to.
  6.  Apple projects that its team will be out-of-the-office until at least June 2021.
  7. American Express implemented a remote work policy until June 30, 2021. Employees have the option to work from home despite their offices opening up in strategic phases.
  8. Indeed announced that their team of 10,000 can stay remote until July 2021. They’re deciding whether to turn this into a permanent situation on a case-by-case basis, according to Business Insider.
  9. Airbnb mentioned in late summer of 2020 that it will continue to operate remotely until the end of August 2021. Execs also promised their team a $500 home office stipend and $500 in Airbnb credits they can use to get away and disconnect each quarter.
  10. Uber plans to have its employees work remotely through June 2021. Their corporate employees will also get $500 to spend on home office equipment.

10 Viral News Articles About Remote Work

Remote work is still making headlines even a year later, and for good reason. Here’s what the latest remote work news articles have to say on the topic:

Final Thoughts On The Current State And Future Of Remote Work ✌️

After reading this report, it’s clear to see that remote work is growing in popularity and won’t fade away any time soon. We’re more likely to find that this pandemic passes long before remote work ever does (and fingers crossed it’s sooner than later!).

Remote work benefits both employees and employers alike, so this workplace shift is a really good thing for everyone (i.e., higher productivity, more flexibility, better work-life balance, etc.).One of the biggest challenges of working remotely, aside from not seeing team members every day at the office, is combating employee burnout. Still, with the right team-building plans in place, the benefits of remote work far outweigh the negatives. We’ll check back in another three months to see what the state of remote work looks like in the next quarter. We hope you’ll join us as we uncover the latest stats and trends. So keep an eye on your inbox for our next update! 

← Back to Blog