As part of its 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, Gallup polled thousands of US employees about how often they worked remotely and how engaged they were with their jobs, in an effort to gauge the systemic effects of an increasingly remote workforce: 43 percent of respondents said they spent at least part of their time working remotely. As Sarah Kessler explains at Quartz, Gallup found no meaningful difference in engagement between those who work out of an office full-time and those who exclusively work remotely:
Workers who spent some time working remotely, however, were slightly more likely to report a high rate of engagement. They were also more likely than full-remote or full-office workers to say they had a best friend at work, and that their job included opportunities to learn and grow.
Although fully remote workers were more likely to report that they had all of the equipment needed to do their job, that their opinions “count” at work, and that they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day, employees who split their time between remote and office work were more likely to report that their development and relationship needs were being met.
The most engaged employees, Gallup found, work remotely 60 to 80 percent of the time. To the Washington Post‘s Jena McGregor, that makes sense, and is indicative of how rapidly the world of work is changing:
Unsurprisingly, people feel most plugged in to their jobs when they have some balance — a little bit of face time and camaraderie at work, and plenty of time to hunker down and get work done from home while avoiding the headaches of going in to the office. What may bewilder many managers, however — particularly those at companies like Yahoo or Bank of America that scaled back on telecommuting programs in recent years — is the extent to which that balance is tipped toward working remotely.
Just four years ago, after all, Gallup found that the “optimal engagement boost” happened for those who worked remotely less than 20 percent of time, a third of where it is now. The 2012 data showed that those who spent more than half their time away from the office were only about as engaged as those who never worked remotely. Four years on, something has changed dramatically.