State Of Remote Work 2023
How remote workers from around the world feel about remote work, the benefits and struggles that come along with it, and what it’s like to be a remote worker in 2023
A report by Buffer in partnership with Nomad List and Remote OK
The 2023 State of Remote Work report highlights the experiences of 3,000 remote workers from around the world. Our respondents include those who work remotely all the time or some of the time as well as employees, independent consultants, and business owners. We share insights into:
- How working remotely feels and is perceived
- The work structures of remote workers and their organizations
- Top benefits and struggles of working remotely
- Remote worker’s pay and career growth
We started the State of Remote Work six years ago because we have access to one of the largest communities and groups of remote workers, are a fully remote and distributed organization ourselves, and believe in the power of remote work to shape the workplace of the future for the better.
In this year’s report, just over half (53 percent) are employees while 43 percent are independent consultants or freelancers and four percent represent business owners with at least one employee. We saw a wide range of identity and experience in respondents: 38 percent identify as female, 61 percent as male, and one percent as non-binary. Further, 18 percent identify as Hispanic / Latino / of Spanish origin, 16 percent as Black or African American, and 14 percent as Asian. A small number (12 percent) preferred not to disclose their racial identity.
Outside of geography, race, and gender, 9 percent identified as having a chronic disability or illness, and 30 percent identified as parents or guardians. Respondents also work in a mix of industries and represent all generations, with the highest representation coming from millennials (58 percent) working in either the software/IT (41 percent), or marketing, media, and publishing (16 percent) industries.
This report is brought to you by Buffer, Remote OK, and Nomad List.
Here are the top takeaways from this year’s State of Remote Work report:
Remote work continues to be perceived as very positive. Ninety-eight percent of respondents would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers, this is up slightly from 97 percent in 2022. Another 98 percent would recommend remote work to others, which is also an increase from 97 percent in 2022. Overall, 91 percent of respondents report having a positive experience with remote work. Just 1 percent said their remote work experience was negative and the remaining 8 percent were neutral.
Flexibility remains the top benefit of remote work. According to respondents, 22 percent say the biggest benefit to remote work is flexibility in how they spend their time, for 19 percent it’s flexibility in where they choose to live, and for 13 percent it’s the flexibility to choose their work location.
One in three remote workers reports their biggest struggle is that they stay home too often because they don’t have a reason to leave. The next most selected struggle for remote workers was loneliness, with 23 percent of remote workers selecting it. These two struggles go hand in hand and paint a picture of how the reality of remote work can be very challenging.
While 71 percent of respondents say it’s very important to set work boundaries, remote workers are only moderately successful. Eighty-one percent of remote workers claim to check work emails outside of work hours, including 63 percent who do so on weekends and 34 percent while on vacation. Another 48 percent say they frequently work outside of traditional work hours, and 44 percent of remote workers say they have worked more this year compared to last year. Finally, 22 percent report not being able to unplug is their biggest challenge with remote work.
When it comes to feeling connected at work, 75 percent of remote workers feel connected to their colleagues, even though a majority work across time zones.
Half of remote workers report feeling more energized (48 percent) than last year, compared to 21 percent who report feeling burnt out. Similarly, 58 percent report feeling engaged about the job compared to 30 percent who are unengaged.
Remote workers are split on the impact that working remotely has on their career growth. Thirty-six percent of remote workers said career growth is easier as a result of working remotely, which is 14 percent higher than last year’s response to the same question. On the other side, 28 percent of remote workers said career growth is more difficult for them. This is down from 45 percent last year. The final 36 percent said remote work has no impact on their career growth.
One in three remote workers is actively looking for a new job, and, of those, 76 percent report it’s important that their job can be done remotely.
Let’s get into the full report!
How Remote Work Is Happening in 2023
The flexibility in remote work means that it can be structured differently depending on the company or employee. In this section, we take a deep dive into how exactly people are working remotely, what collaboration looks like to them, and how businesses are supporting remote workers in 2023.
82% of remote workers are working from home
An overwhelming majority (82 percent) of respondents shared that they are working from home. This was significantly higher than in 2022 when 59 percent of survey takers said they were working from home.
This data is on par with the trends we’ve seen over the years. In 2018 we found that 78 percent of individuals worked from home and in 2019 it went up to 84 percent.
We dug a little deeper and asked participants which room they utilized when working from home. A little over one-third (37 percent) said they work in a dedicated office space, while 21 percent said they work from their bedroom. Twenty percent of participants said they work from their living room, while 14 percent said they move from room to room while working. A small percentage of individuals (2 percent) included other answers, while another 2 percent of survey responders said they do not work from home at all.
Though the top response was the office at 37 percent, the majority (45 percent) of people who work from home utilize a room with multiple purposes like the bedroom, kitchen, or living room.
Most people who work remotely are fully remote, and they want it to stay that way
We wanted to get a better understanding of the nuances of remote work, especially since there have been a lot of fluctuations over the years as some companies have gone fully remote while others have prioritized hybrid work. Here’s the current reality for remote workers.
More than half of workers (64 percent) are fully remote. This is up significantly from 2022 when the number was at 49 percent. Every other category describing a hybrid set-up is less than last year.
This year, more individuals said they prefer a fully remote structure (71 percent) than compared to last year at 49 percent. This could be because more people have experienced hybrid work and appreciate its benefits. Very few folks selected hybrid options other than the option that remote first and not required to be in the office regularly.
71% of companies are permanently allowing some amount of remote work
The conversation has gone back and forth on whether or not the shift to remote work that started in 2020 will be permanent. We asked respondents if their company was permanently allowing some amount of remote work, and we saw a similar response to last year — 71 percent of companies are permanently allowing some type of remote work. Only 8 percent of respondents said their companies are not allowing any form of remote work.
62% of people work directly with teammates across multiple time zones
Alongside remote work more broadly, it’s more common now to be collaborating with people across multiple time zones. When asked if their company was operating in multiple timezones, 74 percent of respondents answered yes.
Over half of survey takers (62 percent) said people in their immediate teams were distributed across multiple time zones, while 38 percent responded that their immediate teams aren’t distributed.
75% of remote workers spend 1-10 hours of the work week in meetings
This year was our first time asking how much time remote workers spend in meetings. The most popular answer (52 percent) was one to five hours, while 23 percent said they spend six to 10 hours a week in meetings.
We’re hopeful this is an indicator of healthy work practices and moving to asynchronous work, which we’ll cover in another section.
62% of remote workers prefer to be on camera during video calls
With video calls being the most frequent way remote teams conduct meetings, we found that a quarter of remote workers are required to be on camera, 33 percent said it depends and 34 percent don’t have any company or client requirements to turn on their camera. Another 3 percent said their work does not have video calls, whereas five percent said they were required to be off-camera for these calls.
It might be surprising to learn that most remote workers prefer to be on camera. When asked why 67 percent selected that it’s easier to communicate when they can see someone’s expression.
The other reasons for favoring on-camera meetings included “it encourages me to look ‘work ready’” at four percent, “I don’t feel so isolated,” at 16 percent, and “I don’t want to be negatively judged for having my camera off,” at five percent.
For those who’d rather have off-camera meetings, 26 percent said they don’t want to have to dress and prep for the camera. This was followed by 22 percent who said they prefer to move around and not sit during calls. Eighteen percent of respondents said being on camera takes too much energy while 17 percent said they don’t like to look at themselves on screen. Another 15 percent worried that their environment may be perceived as unprofessional.
These answers speak to the broader discourse surrounding work calls and cameras. While connecting through video calls can help with feelings of disconnectedness, others believe mandating on-camera meetings may be burdensome for certain employees depending on their living situations.
How collaboration is happening, asynchronous and synchronous work
Having good collaboration and communication practices is key to making remote work a success. When we dug in we learned that collaboration is mostly happening via messaging apps for 50 percent of remote workers, followed by emails at 22 percent, and then meetings at 19 percent.
We found an almost even split between asynchronous-first and synchronous-first work. Though most prefer either mostly or all asynchronous work, followed by evenly synchronous and asynchronous work.
Note: In this report, we talk about asynchronous and synchronous work. Asynchronous or async refers to work that doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone, while synchronous or sync refers to work that does happen at the same time for everyone.
Most proponents of async work advocate for async-first, which means you default to asynchronous methods but will have synchronous elements for specific types of work or team bonding activities.
Who is covering the expenses of remote work?
Companies are most likely to pay for hardware, office equipment, and office supplies, and less likely to pay for home internet or coworking memberships, though home internet in particular is one that remote workers wish employers would pay for.
When it came to hardware items that remote workers might need, like monitors, mouses, etc. Sixty-four percent of respondents said their companies paid for these items while 25 percent said these items were not reimbursed but they wished they were. It wasn’t paid for but also wasn’t important for the remaining 11 percent of respondents.
Office equipment, like a remote worker’s desk and chair, was something that 40 percent of respondents said their companies paid for office equipment while 38 percent said these items were not reimbursed but they wished they were. For 22 percent, office equipment wasn’t paid for but it wasn’t important for them.
Home internet, a key element of working from home, is something that 28 percent of remote workers report their company pays for. Forty-four percent of respondents were not reimbursed for their home internet but wished they were and the final 28 percent who were not reimbursed said it was not important.
Finally for coworking memberships, a popular option for remote workers who don’t want to work from home, 22 percent said their companies paid for their co-working memberships, 38 percent of respondents wished their companies would pay for co-working memberships, and 40 percent said their companies do not pay for these memberships but it is not important.
How companies are supporting remote work
We looked at both established and newer practices for remote work, like 1:1 meetings, opportunities to socialize with coworkers, having no meeting times, and the four-day workweek.
Most companies (78 percent) have systems and tech for remote team collaboration and communication, in addition to 1:1 meetings (71 percent). A smaller majority promotes flexible working hours (63 percent), offers opportunities to socialize with coworkers (60 percent), and helps connect with more colleagues as it relates to their work (57 percent).
Roughly half (51 percent) of respondents say their company promotes remote career growth opportunities, though this is something that 40 percent of respondents said is not offered they wish it were.
A minority of companies offer times when no meetings are scheduled (37 percent) though 36 percent of workers wish their company did. An even smaller minority offer a four-day workweek (17 percent) — though the four-day workweek is the option that most respondents (69 percent) wish their company offered. We’ve enjoyed a four-day workweek at Buffer for nearly three years now and not only do most of our team members report feeling happier, but they’re able to live more balanced and flexible lives.
The Struggles and Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work is filled with benefits and also has its fair share of challenges. In this section, we’ll take a deeper look into what remote workers see as the top benefits and struggles of working remotely.
Flexibility in where remote workers choose to live is increasingly important
Consistently and unsurprisingly, flexibility remains one of the top benefits of remote work for 67 percent of remote workers, alongside “I have more time because I don’t commute” (63 percent) and “Flexibility to live where I choose“ (60 percent).
We saw increases in respondents’ views on the benefits of remote work, with the highest being more diverse career options, up 10 percent from 2022. Other notable benefits were financial gain, up eight percent from 2022, freedom to live anywhere, up five percent, and time saved from not commuting, up four.
“Flexibility in how I spend my time” remains the top benefit of all of the options, selected by 22 percent of remote workers as the biggest benefit of working remotely. This is 3 percent less than in 2022, and we saw the next benefit, flexibility to live where I choose, grow by that same 3 percent compared to 2022.
Remote workers are struggling with staying home too often and not having a reason to leave
This year, we included a new option for our question about the biggest struggles respondents face when working remotely. The option was “staying home too often because they don’t have a reason to leave.” We included it based on trends we had seen throughout the year, and it topped the list with one in three remote workers selecting it as an issue.
Next up was loneliness (23 percent), in a similar spot as the previous year. Slightly fewer people selected struggling with: not being able to unplug (22 percent, down from 25 percent in 2022), working across time zones (19 percent, down from 21 percent), difficulty focusing (16 percent down from 21 percent), and difficulties with collaboration and communication (15 percent down from 17 percent).
Interestingly, in our 2020 State of Remote Work, collaboration and communication were a top challenge. This is been decreasing each year, which may be a signal that companies have found effective solutions for this. Through this data, we can infer that time has allowed workers to adjust their lives around remote work, so certain challenges are surfacing less and less.
When asked the biggest struggle out of all the options, the answer remained staying home too often and not having a reason to leave (21 percent), followed by loneliness (15 percent), working across time zones (14 percent), staying motivated (11 percent), not being able to unplug (11 percent). So while most people seem to be adjusting to the technical challenges presented by remote work, not much headway is being made with the personal challenges.
Remote workers find it easier to do focused work, manage stress, avoid distractions, and create work-life boundaries
When we think about work from the office, collaboration, and camaraderie come to mind as major benefits. However, remote workers identify that there are certain things that are just easier to do when remote, especially focused work (70 percent), managing stress (65 percent), and avoiding distractions (50 percent).
This doesn’t mean there aren’t difficulties associated with remote work. While nothing was most likely to be selected as more difficult while working remotely, the leaders in that category were all associated with things that aid career growth. These included getting recognized by leadership (37 percent), collaborating (30 percent), and getting promoted (28 percent).
Despite assumptions that being able to work from anywhere can blur the boundaries between work and personal life, 45 percent of remote workers identified that creating work-life boundaries is actually easier when working remotely. Respondents also said that the following haven’t been impacted regardless of whether or not they are remote: communicating clearly, getting the right training for the job, and getting feedback from a manager.
93% of remote workers say work-life boundaries are important to them
Speaking of work-life boundaries, 71 percent of respondents marked setting them as very important and 22 percent as somewhat important for a total of 93 percent.
In addition, 78 percent of remote workers said that their work-life boundaries are healthy. This is probably why more people than not identified that creating work-life boundaries is easier when working remotely.
We asked questions to drill into the systems that workers have set up for better work-life balance and when it came to email, the boundaries were blurred. One example of a work boundary is checking emails outside of work hours, and 81 percent say that they do that. In addition, 63 percent check email on weekends or days off, and 34 percent while on vacation.
A more promising number, 60 percent of workers say they block time on their schedules for focused work — from as little as 1-5 hours a week (40 percent) to as much as 6-10 hours (31 percent).
Of course, there are a lot of different work boundaries beyond focused time and emails aren’t the only examples, so it’s entirely possible that remote workers are maintaining healthy boundaries in other ways.
44% of remote workers are working more this year, and 1 in 5 reports being burnt out
Burnout and overwork are common arguments against remote work for good reason, 44 percent of remote workers report that they worked more this year compared to last year. Meanwhile, 32 percent report working the same amount, and 24 percent report working less.
Even though remote workers most commonly report they are working more, almost half report feeling more energized than they did a year ago.
At the same time, 1 in 5 remote workers reports feeling more burnt out than they did a year ago. This can, however, be attributed to a number of things. In this article, it was highlighted that certain companies are implementing hybrid or back-to-office policies while expecting similar levels of work as when they were fully remote and stuck at home. Also important to note is the looming recession and mass layoffs in tech (which makes up a large portion of our respondents’ industries) which might also explain the increased levels of burnout.
75% of remote workers feel connected to their colleagues
Whether or not remote workers feel connected to their colleagues has been a key topic over the last few years. So it’s encouraging to see that 75 percent of remote workers report feeling connected to their colleagues or clients. Only 17 percent selected that they do not feel connected.
When digging into why they feel connected, it’s primarily because they interact regularly or collaborate effectively. A somewhat popular option was because they have met in person (46 percent), or know about each other’s lives (38 percent).
Those who don’t feel connected say there is no opportunity to connect socially (56 percent) or they don’t interact with their colleagues (53 percent), or they don’t know about them as a person (51 percent). At Buffer, we have different opportunities to create connection with each other including hybrid meetups, transparent communication, and work blueprints.
Remote Worker’s Pay and Career Growth
Last year, we took a deeper dive into the topic of remote work and career growth. We asked even more questions on the topic this year so that we could get a more full picture of these trends over time.
74% of remote workers define career growth as opportunities to learn a new skill
How do we define career growth? We wanted to clarify what career growth looks like to remote workers before we got into how remote work impacted career growth.
Career growth is primarily defined as the opportunity to learn a new skill (74 percent) and higher pay (71 percent). Other options likely to be selected were more autonomy selected by 57 percent of respondents and promotions, which was selected by 56 percent.
The responses least likely to be selected were: visibility with leadership (42 percent), opportunities to work with different teams (47 percent), and higher profile projects (48 percent).
36% of remote workers think career growth is easier with remote work
In 2023, career growth for remote workers is much better perceived than in 2022. Significantly more respondents selected that career growth was easier for remote workers in 2023 (36 percent) than in 2022 at just 14 percent. Though, overall the topic of career growth is still somewhat split.
When asked why career growth is easier for remote workers, 75 percent selected that it’s because they are measured on their output and impact instead of their time in the office. Another popular response with 48 percent of respondents selecting it was that employees are on a level playing field because they are all remote.
On the other side, 28 percent of remote workers said career growth was more difficult for them. This is lower than compared to 2022 where 45 percent of respondents selected the option that career growth was more difficult.
The difficulties with career growth in remote work are widespread. Fifty-one percent of respondents said career growth is more difficult for them because they feel like if they are not seen people don’t think of them for new opportunities. Another 39 percent said that they don’t know how to share or promote their successes, and 37 percent selected that they are left out of organic or water cooler conversations.
The final group is the 36 percent who say that working remotely has no impact on their career growth. This group is lower than in 2022, where 41 percent said remote work had no impact on their career growth.
58% of remote workers feel engaged in their job
This year we asked respondents about how engaged they felt toward their job. Employee engagement is a popular topic with the concept of quiet quitting taking off in 2022.
The majority, 58 percent of remote workers, selected they are either very or somewhat engaged with their job, just 12 percent said they are neither engaged nor unengaged, and 30 percent selected either somewhat unengaged or very unengaged.
36% of remote workers are actively looking for a new job, 66% say it’s important that new job is remote
Another part of the career conversation is switching jobs. 2021 was the year of the great resignation and the concept is still referred to as “an ongoing economic trend.”
Remote workers were most likely (42 percent) to select they are not looking for a job but are open to new opportunities. The next largest group was 36 percent of respondents who are looking for a new job, followed by 22 percent who do not want a new job.
Job security has been another prominent topic, and 30 percent of respondents selected that they are worried about losing their job in the next 12 months compared to the majority, 70 percent who are not concerned.
When it comes to any potential new employers, 66 percent of remote workers said it’s important for their job to be done remotely. Only 6 percent said it was neither important nor unimportant, and 18 percent selected that it was unimportant for their job to be done remotely.
For 43% of remote workers, their pay is not tied to their location, and 70% of remote workers are not paid less for working remotely
Pay is another topic that we’ve covered in previous years and wanted to learn more about. For 43 percent of remote workers, their pay is not tied to their location, which is an increase from 38 percent last year. The remaining 35 percent say their pay is tied to a location, while 22 percent remain uncertain. The trend of pay being moved away from being tied to a person’s location is a positive one for remote workers as location flexibility is one of the primary benefits of remote work.
Another positive trend is that according to 70 percent of remote workers, they aren’t paid less if they work remotely. This is slightly less than 73 percent in 2022. Another 8 percent said they are paid less if they work remotely, which is slightly more than the 6 percent who responded the same way last year. Twenty-two percent of respondents were unsure if an employee at their company was paid less if they work remotely.
Thank you for taking the time to read this year’s State of Remote Work report!
View previous reports below to compare the results:
- 2022 State of Remote Work
- 2021 State of Remote Work
- 2020 State of Remote Work
- 2019 State of Remote Work
- 2018 State of Remote Work
If you are looking for a remote job we can recommend Remote OK as a great place to start; you can also check to see if we are hiring at Buffer.
For questions about this report or data, please reach out to Hailley at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to share and republish all of the charts on this page. This data was collected between October 10th, 2022, and November 28th, 2022.
About The Respondents
Do you ever work remotely?
Yes - Full-Time 58%
Yes - Part-Time 25%
Yes - On occasion 17%
Which best describes you?
Self-employed/freelancer/independent consultant 43%
Business owner with at least one employee 4%
How long have you worked remotely?
Less than a year 25%
1 - 2 years 35%
3 - 5 years 27%
6 - 9 years 8%
10 - 14 years 3%
15 - 19 years 1%
20+ years 1%
Do you identify as a person with a chronic illness or disability?
Are you a parent/guardian whose child(ren) live at home?
How many employees does your company have?
Fewer than 10 15%
What percentage of your company currently works remotely?
1 - 25% 18%
26 - 50% 11%
51 - 75% 13%
76 - 99% 17%
What country do you live in?
United States 19%
My location is flexible 5%
South Africa 4%
United Kingdom 3%
What industry do you work in?
IT and Services 18%
Marketing, Media and Publishing 16%
Education, E-commerce 9%
Nonprofit, Medical and Healthcare 6%
Travel and Tourism 2%
Consumer Products 7%
Government, Law and Legal Services 3%
Other - Write In 16%
What best describes the work you do?
Customer Support 10%
Human Resources 5%
Other - Write In 9%
How do you identify?
Prefer to self-describe: 0%
Are you of Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin?
How would you describe yourself?
American Indian or Alaska Native 2%
Black or African American 20%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 1%
Other - Write In 12%
Prefer not to answer 9%
What generation are you a part of?
Generation Z 26%
Generation X 14%
Baby Boomer 2%
How long have you been in the professional workforce?
Less than a year 12%
1 - 2 years 13%
3 - 5 years 20%
6 - 9 years 18%
10 years - 14 years 16%
15 years - 19 years 9%
20 or more years 12%
Have you ever worked in an office?