The Remote Work Report by Zapier

Will the office be obsolete by 2030? Knowledge workers think so.

Zapier Editorial Team
Zapier Editorial Team / Published November 13, 2019

Remote work isn't niche anymore—it's everywhere. Anyone who frequents a coffee shop knows that.

At this point, companies of all sizes are implementing remote work policies. A number of forward-thinking companies have quietly grown to hundreds—sometimes thousands—of completely distributed employees working from all corners of the world, with no physical office to speak of.

To take a deeper dive into this growing trend, Zapier recently commissioned a survey conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 880 U.S. knowledge workers (those who primarily work in a professional setting and use a computer as part of their job) to discover what's at the heart of people's desire to work remotely, and how it’s shaping the way we work.

Everybody wants to work remote.

About three-quarters of knowledge workers would be willing to quit a job that didn’t allow remote working for one that did.

Companies looking to attract and retain talent should think about their remote work policies. 95 percent of U.S. knowledge workers want to work remotely, and 74 percent would be willing to quit a job to do so.

Three quarters of knowledge workers are willing to quit their job to go remote
  • 31 percent of U.S. knowledge workers don't currently work remotely because their company doesn't allow it.
  • 26 percent of knowledge workers have quit a job because the company did not offer the option to work remotely/flexible work schedule
  • Remote work is a highly desired perk. Nearly 3 in 5 knowledge workers (57 percent) say the option to work remotely is one of the perks they'd most prefer to be offered by an employer.
    That's more than free daily lunch (42 percent) and unlimited vacation time (39 percent). Only one quarter (25 percent) cited recreational activities, like ping pong or foosball.
  • Almost a third of Millennial knowledge workers (31 percent), and more than a quarter of Gen X work (27 percent) remotely full-time. Only 11 percent of Baby Boomers do.

Why do people want to work remotely?

Saving money and spending time with family, among other things.

The 10 reasons people want to work remote

It's no surprise that people see working from home as a way to save money and spend time with loved ones. For many people, climate change is also a factor. Here are the most common reasons people want to work from home.

  1. Save money — 48 percent
  2. Work from anywhere — 47 percent
  3. Spend more time with their family — 44 percent
  4. More productive at home — 35 percent
  5. Better for their mental health. — 29 percent
  6. It’s more environmentally sustainable — 23 percent
  7. Spend more time with pets — 18 percent
  8. Relocate somewhere more affordable – 16 percent
  9. Make it easier when they start a family - 16 percent
  10. Care for aging parents – 16 percent

Remote work is productive work.

Knowledge workers say they get the most done at home.

Home is where productivity lives. 42 percent of knowledge workers believe they are most productive working from home, compared to just under a third (32 percent) who feel they get more done in an office.

42 percent of people feel most productive while working at home
  • 52 percent of Baby Boomers say home is where they are most productive, as opposed to only 38 percent of Millennials. And yet only 11 percent of Baby Boomers work remotely full time, as opposed to 31 percent of Millennials.
  • Only 11 percent of knowledge workers feel they get the most work done in a co-working space.
  • Women are more likely than their male counterparts to say they are more productive when working from home (50 percent vs. 37 percent). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to say they're more productive in the office (35 percent vs. 27 percent of women).
  • Full-time remote knowledge workers typically spend more hours, on average, each workday doing meaningful work (i.e., work that has significance and purpose) compared to their office worker counterparts. That's 6.2 hours for remote workers compared to 5.7 hours for office-bound ones.

Gender disparity in remote work?

Women value remote work more than men, but are less likely to have the opportunity.

62 percent of female knowledge workers say the option to work remotely is one of the perks they would most want an employer to offer, as opposed to just 53 percent of male knowledge workers. And yet there are significant gender disparities: 40 percent of female knowledge workers say they don't work remotely because their company doesn't allow it, compared to 25 percent of men of the same group saying the same thing.

Women want to work from home more, but are less likely to have the chance
  • Female knowledge workers are more likely than their male counterparts to say they have quit a job because the company didn’t offer a flexible work schedule (24 percent vs. 17 percent)
  • Women, more than their male counterparts, are more likely to note they are most productive when working from home (50 percent vs. 37 percent).
  • More than a third of male knowledge workers (35 percent) note they are most productive in an office, compared to just over a quarter (27 percent) of female knowledge workers.
  • Male knowledge workers, meanwhile, are more than twice as likely as female knowledge workers to say they have taken a nap during the workday. (24 percent vs. 11 percent).

Workers think the office is obsolete.

Two-thirds of knowledge workers think the office will disappear by 2030.

The end of the office is near—at least, that's what knowledge workers think. Roughly two in three knowledge workers, 66 percent, believe the traditional office setting will be obsolete for most roles by 2030.

2 in 3 knowledge workers think the office will be obsolete by 2030

Among knowledge workers:

  • Almost three in four Millennials (71 percent) believe the traditional office will be replaced with most positions being done remotely, compared to 61 percent of Gen X.
  • Full-time remote workers are more likely to believe the traditional office will be obsolete by 2030 compared to their office worker counterparts (75 percent vs. 63 percent).
  • Flexible and remote work are the top 2 work perks parents of kids under 18 would most prefer to be offered by an employer: 56 percent of parents want the option to work remotely, 69 percent want a flexible work schedule
  • Flexible and/or remote work is the most desirable perk for knowledge workers with disabilities, with 80 percent saying it's a perk they would most want an employer to offer
  • The home (42 percent) trumps the office (32 percent) as the location where knowledge workers say they would be the most productive when working.
  • One in four knowledge workers find their commute to be among the most stressful parts of their job.

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