- U.S. workers report working remotely an average of 3.8 days per month
- In 2020, the average was 5.8 days; before the pandemic, it was 2.4
- More work remotely during business hours now than did before pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. workers’ remote workdays have stabilized after spiking during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The average U.S. worker spends 3.8 days per month working from home, down from 5.8 in 2020 but higher than the 2.4 average from 2019. Among the smaller sample of workers who have ever worked remotely, the figures are an average of 7.7 remote days per month currently compared with 11.9 in 2020 and 5.8 in 2019.
The latest results are based on Gallup’s annual Work and Education poll, conducted Aug. 1-23. About half of U.S. workers say they have ever telecommuted for work, a percentage that has been stable over the past three years. When Gallup first asked about telecommuting in 1995, 9% of workers said they had done so. By the next update, in 2006, the figure had increased to 32%.
College graduates (72%) are more than twice as likely as nongraduates (34%) to have worked remotely. Also, far more women (63%) than men (40%) have worked remotely. However, among those who have telecommuted, men and women and college graduates and nongraduates work about the same number of days from home in the average month.
Remote Work Has Shifted to Normal Business Hours
In addition to more workers telecommuting and doing so more often, another change in work habits since before the COVID-19 pandemic is a greater share of telecommuters working remotely during normal business hours instead of outside of them.
Currently, remote workers are about twice as likely to say their remote work occurs during regular business hours as opposed to other times. When the question was last asked in 2015, remote workers were about equally as likely to work remotely during the traditional workday as outside of it. Before 2015, they were more likely to work remotely outside of normal work hours.
Slight Increase in Belief That Remote Workers Are Less Productive
One concern some employers and labor market observers have with increased remote work is that it may lead to lower productivity since remote workers are not as easily supervised. But most Americans do not share that concern. In fact, 55% of U.S. adults believe remote workers are “just as productive” as those who work in a business office, while 18% believe they are more productive and 25% less so.
Perceptions of remote worker productivity have shifted slightly since Gallup first asked about it in 1995. U.S. adults are more likely now to think remote workers are less productive than on-site workers, while fewer believe remote workers are more productive. Still, the largest share of U.S. adults, and a higher share than in 1995, believe remote workers are just as productive as on-site office workers.
Among those who have ever worked remotely, current attitudes about remote worker productivity are similar to those among U.S. adults overall -- 53% think remote workers are just as productive, 20% more productive and 25% less productive. Since 2006, the first year Gallup asked telecommuters about remote work, there has been a 13-percentage-point decline in the percentage of telecommuters who think remote workers are more productive and a 10-point increase in the percentage who say they are less productive. Those shifts are larger than what Gallup has measured for U.S. adults as a whole.
Opinions of remote worker productivity are generally similar across key subgroups of U.S. adults, with the exception of politics. Republicans are more skeptical than Democrats and independents. Forty-two percent of Republicans believe telecommuters are less productive than on-site workers, compared with 23% of independents and 13% of Democrats. Nearly as many Republicans think remote workers are less productive than in-person workers as believe they are just as productive (44%).
In past surveys, Republicans held similar attitudes about remote work to the other party groups. The emerging partisan differences may reflect Republicans associating remote work with the COVID-19 pandemic or be tied to their growing mistrust of corporations.
With the coronavirus pandemic over, remote work has eased, but it remains more common than before COVID-19 shut down many workplaces and forced businesses to have employees do their jobs remotely. On average, U.S. workers as a whole -- including those whose job is conducive to remote work and those whose job isn’t -- now report working remotely about four days per month.
Remote work appears to have shifted more toward being a replacement for going into the office than a way to catch up on work after business hours, as nearly twice as many telecommuters say they work remotely during normal business hours as outside of them.
Remote workers themselves, as well as U.S. adults in general, tend to think remote workers are just as productive as on-site workers. While far more workers now have experience working remotely than did before the pandemic, opinions of remote worker productivity have changed slightly, becoming just a bit more skeptical.
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