Are Remote Workers Happier Than Office Employees? [Infographic]

Melanie Pinola
Melanie Pinola / Published December 5, 2016

Any time the subject of remote work or telecommuting comes up, our ears perk up. It's a great working arrangement that we at Zapier and many other SaaS companies enjoy. But, we also have to be honest, it's also not without its downsides or challenges. At the end of the day, are remote employees happier with their work and more productive?

One employee engagement firm, TINYpulse, set out to find the answer. They surveyed 509 full-time remote employees in the US about happiness on the job and compared their responses to benchmarks based on over 200,000 employees across all different kinds of working arrangements.

You can download the report from TINYpulse after registering for it, or see the infographic summary below courtesy of time-tracking tool TimeDoctor.

Some of the answers might not surprise you, while others might. A few takeaways:

The vast majority of remote workers feel they're more productive outside of the office. 91% believe they get more done compared to just 9% of remote workers who don't feel more productive outside of the office. Although this is a self-assessment on their productivity, some managers' fears that employees will be less productive outside of the office might just be a stereotype. (As someone who's tried to work in an open office and co-working spaces, I definitely get more done in my own setup.

Remote workers feel more valued at work and happier at work overall, compared to all workers. When you work remotely, you're given a great deal of autonomy , and for many people that trust makes them happier and more appreciated.

However, some of the remote workers (22%) were required to work remotely by their job, rather than because they enjoyed the freedom of choosing when and where to work. Those must-work-remotely employees were less likely than the other remote workers to feel happy or valued at work and see themselves working in the same place in one year. So pushing employees out the door might not be in companies' best interests either–for remote work to work, everyone has to be on board with it.

Remote workers tended to rate their relationship with coworkers less highly. Without as much in-person contact with other co-workers, it's harder for remote workers to form strong bonds. You don't run into people in the hallway and say hi comment on their new haircut or ask to borrow a stapler from your cubicle-mate–even the smallest interactions build relationships. That's why companies need to build rapport rapidly with their remote teams.

But too much contact isn't great either. The remote workers in this study preferred contact with their direct supervisor once per week (34%) or once per day (31%). Hey, 3% of them said "never."

I also found it surprising that remote workers were happiest with "no main timezone" for their company, since working across different time zones is tricky at best. But maybe that lack of a set timezone means the company is distributed across the globe–and you get the flexibility and freedom to work where and when you want. Well worth the tradeoff of occasionally calculating what time it is for your fellow remote worker.

All this said, the sample size for the study was small, and not everyone enjoys working remotely or will excel in that situation. This is just some more food for thought.

Here's the infographic from TimeDoctor

Remote worker infographic

Related: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Remote Work

Photo by Negative Space via Pexels

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