State of Remote Work

How employees across the US feel about working remotely in a post- COVID-19 world, their new workplace expectations and what employers need to know to recruit and retain top talent.

2020 is the year the world went remote.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations around the world to quickly adapt to a new remote reality, in some cases for the first time, in the largest work-from-home shift ever. We’ve officially fast-tracked to the future of work.

Meetings suddenly became Zoom meetings, with video calls happening 50% more than before COVID-19. Not only did people embrace remote work, they have now grown to expect it. After six months of working from home full-time, we learned that one in two U.S workers won’t return to a job that doesn’t offer remote work as an option.

For Owl Labs’ 4th annual State of Remote Work report, we partnered with the leading remote analytics firm, Global Workplace Analytics, to learn more about the current state of remote work in 2020 and what lies ahead. We wanted to uncover remote work statistics and gather the current work from home trends to provide you with a comprehensive remote work benchmark report during COVID-19.

In this report, you’ll learn:

  • How people are adapting to remote work
  • How companies are handling the COVID-19 guidelines for telework
  • Current remote work statistics and trends
  • How the new work-from-anywhere movement affects lifestyle decisions
  • What leaders and companies should know to support today’s employees’ needs
  • How key findings from 2020 compare to the Owl Labs State of Remote Work Report from 2019

Executive Summary

In this survey, we learned that almost 70% of full time workers in the United States are working from home during COVID-19. While working remotely, individuals are facing a more difficult balance between home life and work, adapting new technology by leveraging video meetings, and staying productive in their home offices (or closets for 15% of survey respondents.) During COVID-19, there have been unexpected benefits and challenges—people are saving almost $500 per month on additional expenses, however, one in five reports working more hours per week during the pandemic.

Despite difficult circumstances for working remotely, 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, having the option to work from home would make them happier.

Leaders and managers: 80% of full-time workers expect to work from home at least three times per week after COVID-19 guidelines are lifted and companies and workspaces are able to re-open.

Remote Work Statistics and Trends During COVID-19

  1. Almost 70% of full-time workers in the U.S are working from home during COVID-19
  2. 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19
  3. 77% of respondents agree that after COVID-19, being able to work from home (WFH) would make them happier
  4. 75% of people are the same or more productive during COVID-19 while working from home
  5. In 2020, people are using video meetings 50% more than pre-COVID-19
  6. 1 in 2 people would move if they were able to WFH all or most of the time
  7. Working remotely saves 40 minutes daily on commute
  8. In 2020 after COVID-19, 80% expect to work from home at least 3x/week
  9. 1 in 5 people report working more during COVID-19
  10. Only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment, furniture, cable, chair
  11. 80% agree that there should be one day a week with no meetings at all
  12. 81% of respondents think their employer will support remote work after COVID-19
  13. 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time
  14. 44% did not find it necessary to get dressed up (think: clothing, hair, makeup) for a video meeting
  15. During COVID-19, on average, people are saving $479.20 per month

Table of Contents

Section 1 – Who They Are – Background and Demographics

Section 2 – Remote Work is the New Norm

Section 3 – Communication Reinvented (due to COVID-19)

Section 4 – COVID-19 Cautions

Section 5 – A New Era of Professionalism

Section 6 – Next Stop: Suburbia

Section 7 – Remote Work is the Preferred Way to Work

Section 8 – Remote Work Benefits: Employer Edition

Read more

IT Security Checklist for When Remote Workers Return

Following months of remote working, companies everywhere are starting to bring employees back to the office. While this is a positive step forward, it also poses a number of IT security concerns that will need to be tackled to prevent business systems being left vulnerable. Here, we’ll look at what those concerns are and provide a list of security checks that you may need to carry out.

Predatory attacks

Today’s predatory cybercriminals seek out vulnerabilities and weaknesses they can exploit. Just as they have targeted remote workers using security holes in routers, VPNs and remote desktops, as well as through phishing attacks, they will see opportunity in the inevitable security oversights which will happen when workers return to the office. Avoiding this means organisations need to implement a ‘return to the office’ IT policy, which should include a thorough audit of their IT systems and devices, as well as refresher security training for staff.

Vulnerability checklist

While every company will have its own circumstances, here is a range of security issues you might want to consider, together with possible approaches to solving them.

1. Checking on-site systems

On-site servers and network devices left unused in the office may not have had any updates since the lockdown began. Before using them, the IT department should check every device for vulnerabilities, install any patches, update software to the latest versions and update its antivirus so that the newest vulnerabilities can be scanned for and detected.

2. Bringing devices back to the office

Whether employees have been using their own or company devices for remote working, there are obvious risks to reconnecting them to the business network. Just as with the equipment left in the office during the lockdown, vulnerability checks, patching and software and antivirus updates will need to be carried out.

3. Resetting passwords

Password resetting should be a key priority when remote workers bring their devices back to the office. It is possible the device was used by family members during the lockdown, letting children access online lessons, for example, and this may have led to usernames and passwords being shared. At the same time, device and business system login credentials may also have been used when registering with other online services. Updating passwords for devices and applications can quickly solve any potential issues.

4. Transferring locally stored files

It is quite possible that staff may have created new files or downloaded and stored business documents and data on local drives of their devices during the lockdown. On return to the offices, these files should be transferred to more secure locations on the company server where logical control policies keep them protected. Local versions should then be deleted.

5. Delete unauthorised apps

The huge reliance on the internet for entertainment, education, communication and shopping during the lockdown means that some staff using business owned devices for remote working may have installed software not authorised by the company. These applications might have vulnerabilities or data privacy concerns and should be deleted before reconnection.

6. Review spam filters

The increase in phishing attacks aimed specifically at remote workers during the lockdown remains a major threat and IT staff should check that email filters are operating as required to prevent these kinds of emails getting through. The use of email certificates that digitally verify and encrypt company emails should also be considered.

7. Review logical access controls

The urgent need to enable remote working may have led companies to relax some of their access control permissions during lockdown to facilitate a smoother running of operations. While returning to the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean these extended permissions should automatically be reversed, they should be reviewed. – Read more

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