2021 Remote IT Workers Stats: 15 Must-Know Facts for Hiring & Retaining Remote Talent

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2021 Remote IT Workers Stats: 15 Must-Know Facts for Hiring & Retaining Remote Talent

Remote work took the world by storm during the COVID pandemic. Yet, remote work was already transforming working practices before COVID began – as we highlighted in our 2019 blog post.

Now more than ever, as companies adapt to remote work, it’s important to understand these new work paradigms.

What makes remote IT workers tick?

How can HR build a better remote work environment?

And what will remote work look like in the future?

We’ve put together 15 remote worker stats to take a closer look at this trend. With them, we hope your company gets a better grasp on how to implement best practices for both remote hiring and retaining top remote talent.

1) At least 97% of workers want to keep working remotely at least some of the time.  

(Source: Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work)

One thing is clear: remote work is here to stay. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work report, workers want to keep working remotely in some capacity, whether part-time or full-time. This is important to keep in mind when planning work schedules and creating internal processes. It seems the hybrid approach is gathering a lot of steam.

2) 74% of workers say having remote work benefits would make them less likely to leave a company.

(Source: Owl Labs’ 2020 State of Remote Work)

It’s no longer a secret that remote work is great, which means companies should consider offering it as an employee benefit. As this report from Owl Labs suggests, remote hiring can be a beneficial policy in the long run. Without remote work benefits, 3 of every 4 of your employees may walk away for better opportunities.

3) 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19.

(Source: Owl Labs’ 2020 State of Remote Work)

We all know that COVID sped up remote work adoption. As things get back to normal, it’s important that your company doesn’t default to “business as usual.” Half of employees state that they won’t come back to the office if there’s no remote work option. This is an eventuality that companies should plan for, or they might lose top talent.

4) 80% of remote workers would consider leaving their job for a workplace that focused more on employees’ mental health.

(Source: Live Career’s 2021 Study)

Mental health is a top priority for remote workers and it has long been known to be a major factor in working away from the office. This comes as no surprise, as two of the biggest struggles for remote workers include loneliness and work-life balance. Companies that address mental health will have a huge advantage, as 80% of remote workers mentioned changing jobs for workplaces that encourage mental health.

5) 96% of organizations made changes to their cybersecurity policies to support remote working.

(Source: Cisco’s 2020 Future of Secure Remote Work Report)

Cybersecurity is another hot-button issue for remote work. It’s essential that your company updates its policies in order to create best practices for security at home. According to this remote worker stat, 96% of organizations have already made key updates – have you?

6) 3 out of every 4 companies will maintain or increase engagement with independent talent.

(Source: Upwork’s 2020 Future Workforce Report)

Working with independent or flexible talent is another big trend for remote work. According to Upwork’s report, companies are depending more and more on independent talent in order to fill gaps in their teams.

7) For 27% of remote workers, the biggest challenge is not being able to unplug from work.

(Source: Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work)

Remote workers are highly productive, but they also tend to work longer than they should. The #1 most cited challenge of remote work continues to be unplugging from work. HR managers can help address this issue by encouraging employees not to check email at night or by setting a finish time for the end of the workday.

8) 65% say that remote work has positively affected their work-life balance.

(Source: Live Career’s 2021 Study)

One of the best aspects of remote work is boosting work-life balance. It’s essential for your company to take an interest in your employees’ well-being and encourage family time, hobbies and rich social lives. Encouraging work-life balance is a huge part of retaining talent.

9) 28% believe working remotely has improved their chances of getting a promotion or a raise.

(Source: Live Career’s 2021 Study)

Remote work is also good for professional development. Nearly 1 of every 3 remote workers believe it’s beneficial to their career and promotion opportunities. Your company should strengthen this concept by having clear remote work promotion paths.

10) Half of all remote workers agree that they don’t get as much feedback remotely as they did onsite.  

(Source: Live Career’s 2021 Study)

Feedback is a healthy step in professional development and your company should make sure to set processes to give remote workers feedback. 50% of remote workers feel like they don’t get as much feedback as they did in the office, so your HR department should work on better establishing these processes.

11) The number of freelancers in the U.S. is expected to exceed 90 million by 2028.

(Source: Statista)

The freelancer world is growing every year and is estimated to reach 90 million by 2028. This trend may influence remote hiring and retaining talent, as more remote workers are opting for self-employment. To keep in-house hires, you’ll need to address their challenges and offer key benefits, such as a sense of community.

12) Software developer demand in the U.S. has an expected 22% growth rate by 2029.

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

According to this remote developer stat, software skills remain highly in-demand with a growth rate of 22% by 2029. As we’ve seen before, remote work and the software industry often go hand-in-hand. For IT companies, this is great news, as companies will continue to need their services to meet demand.

13) 86% of computer or math related jobs in the U.S. have adopted remote work – the most of any sector.

(Source: Gallup’s 2021 Survey)

Computer-related jobs continue to top the charts and lead the remote work movement. In the U.S., 86% of workers in this field work remotely, either some or all of the time. For the software industry, the remote work trend just keeps growing.

14) It’s not just IT. 73% of all departments are expected to have remote workers by 2028.

(Source: Upwork’s 2019 Future Workforce Report)

Of course, IT isn’t the only sector with remote work adoption. By 2028, it’s expected that nearly 3 of every 4 departments will have remote workers – whether through distributed teams vs. remote teams. Companies of all stripes should keep this in mind, as remote work isn’t just for the IT folks.

15) 59% of remote teams work within a span of 2-5 time zones.

(Source: Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work)

Finally, it’s clear that nearshore teaming continues to be the preferred work mode. In Buffer’s latest report, 59% of teams reported to work within 2-5 time zones. Considered the sweet spot, matching time zones in remote work allow for a high number of overlapping working hours, leading to greater results.

Final takeaway

Ultimately, remote worker stats are vital to understand the current remote work landscape. As your company adapts to remote working methods, you should make sure to use the information above to make better workplace decisions. After all, remote work is becoming the default mode for companies today.

Gino Ferrand


Gino Ferrand

Gino is an expert in global recruitment having spent the last 10 years leading TECLA and helping world-class tech companies in the U.S. hire top talent in Latin America.

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