First-time remote workers confirm they were more productive at home, according to Coworking Insight’s latest future of work report. Now that nearly every professional across the globe has tested out remote working, will employers adjust their flexibility policies for good?

The world’s largest remote working experiment, brought on abruptly by the coronavirus pandemic, has reaped surprisingly productive results. As a global workforce has transitioned to video calls, online workflow coordination, and a commute-free existence, companies have turned their attention to the business consequences of this unprecedented status quo.

Is Remote Working Effective?

Contrary to popular opinion, remote working is remarkably effective. In fact, businesses have experienced continuity — and even improvement — in their operations with a fully remote workforce.

In light of this somewhat shocking truth unveiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of companies, large and small, have begun to consider permanent work-from-home setups. For instance, Twitter announced that all employees can work remotely “forever”, while other big players like Facebook and Shopify have made plans to transition to a “digital-first” workforce moving forward.

Future of Work Report Remote Working

Are People More Productive Working from Home?

70.6% of first-time remote workers experienced an increase in productivity.

On a micro level, 70.6% of employees forced to work remotely for the first time have reported it as a positive – and more productive – experience, according to a recent study by Coworking Insights. For a majority of first-time remote workers, having added flexibility, being able to work from anywhere, and avoiding commuting proved to be a more ideal style of work.

This provides useful evidence in the big debate that business owners often have of whether employees lose productivity when remote working. Numerous studies have been carried out to weigh in on this issue, including a revolutionary two-year study by Stanford University.

The Stanford researchers, who analysed the work habits of 16,000 remote employees at China’s largest travel agency, Ctrip, found that remote work led to an astounding productivity boost of 13.5% – equivalent to a full day’s work. The company’s work-from-home employees worked a true full-shift (or more) remotely, finding it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home.

For these reasons, it’s worth considering the factors that might contribute to this increased productivity. According to respondents in Coworking Insights’ future of work report, several factors were most influential in their success while working from home, including organisation and time management (67.03%), effective communication (65.93%), freedom and self-reliance (57.14%), software and technology tools (57.14%), and sticking to a routine (45.6%).

Are Remote Workers Happier?

77.2% of remote workers agreed that working remotely improved their physical and mental health.

Additionally, first-time remote workers reaped a number of benefits from their new working arrangement, extending far beyond increased productivity, according to this future of work report, which was carried out by analysts at Coworking Insights in partnership with Coworker.

For both first-time and long-time remote workers, a majority agreed that their remote setup had a positive impact on their finances (77.5%), mental health (77.2%), physical wellness (77.2%), family or social life (76.4%), and their career success (60.7%).

These statistics are noteworthy, revealing that the experience of remote working has led to many advantages for first-time remote workers, both personally and professionally.

Remote Working

Is Remote Working Here to Stay?

52.9% of first-time remote workers now aspire to work remotely for the remainder of their careers.

Increased productivity and widespread satisfaction have led 52.9% of first-time remote workers in the study to state that they now aspire to work remotely for the remainder of their careers. This may very well signal a permanent shift to a digital-first workforce for many employers, or, at the very least, it will compel employers to see flexibility as an integral part of employee satisfaction. 

However, working from home also proved to be challenging for some remote workers, with 55.49% saying they found it difficult to avoid distractions — like pets, children, or chores — at home. Other common challenges of working from home include working too much, isolation, and loneliness, locating reliable wi-fi and accessing professional services like printing or deliveries. 

Is Coworking Really the Future?

As the landscape of work shifts, coworking could act as a “third space” for entrepreneurs – a space that is neither their home nor the office, which accommodates their professional needs. Operating in tandem with more traditional modes of working, the coworking industry stands to benefit from the rising number of remote workers worldwide.

Madison Maidment, Chief Operating Officer at Coworker, believes that flexible office space will come into high demand once people realise the value of having a third space: Even with the majority of professionals finding success while working remotely, there are still without a doubt many challenges that stem from working at home. In many ways, coworking spaces offer the same benefits remote work opportunities bring, while also combatting the challenges experienced from working at home.

“We believe this will drive demand for flexible workspaces globally in the years to come. People enjoy having a third space where they can go that’s away from home and separate from the HQ, and that’s where coworking really comes into play.”

Already, Coworker, the largest global database of coworking spaces, including in APAC, has witnessed some recovery in terms of traffic and demand for flexible workspace. Comparing data from earlier in 2020 to this month, leads are shifting toward private offices (as a space type), longer-term contracts, and higher capacity (of desks needed per lead). 

Markets that appear to have made the best recoveries so far are generally in APAC and include Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, where Coworker’s traffic hasn’t decreased by more than 20% and, in some cases, has returned to previous highs.  “This signals that the flexible office industry will indeed recover and continue to grow, albeit gradually over the next few months, as the global return to work gets underway,” Madison said. 


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