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What Are Remote Workers Doing on the Clock? [2023 Survey]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

290 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...

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Mid-day showers, afternoon power naps, and answering emails from the comfort of your go-to coffee joint are all perks remote workers enjoy. Some even skip working from home entirely in exchange for working poolside in luxurious, far-off destinations — mai tai in hand.

With remote workers ditching the in-person 9 to 5, it begs the question — what are remote workers doing all day? To unpack the benefits of working from home, our team surveyed over 1,000 remote workers and asked about their on-the-clock habits. Keep reading to discover what remote workers really do after they punch in for the workday.

The Most Common Non-work Activities, According to Remote Workers

Bar chart representing the most common non-work activities Americans admit to doing on the clock remotely.
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Remote work life equals more freedom with no nosy coworkers breathing down your neck. While some bosses fear that their remote workers aren’t being productive during the day, 67% of workers feel they are more productive while working from home, according to a report by Owl Labs.

We found that most remote workers enjoy scrolling social media (74.7%), completing chores around their house (71.6%), and shopping online (69.6%) during their workday. Check out some of our other key insights, below:

  • Considering some bosses monitor work-from-home employees, it’s no surprise that 3 in 10 Americans (35.3%) say they have moved their mouse around on the clock so that their status showed “active” while they were doing something besides working. Gen Zers (50.7%) are the most likely of any generation to do this.
  • 1 in 5 Americans (21.7%) say they have taken a nap while on the clock remotely.
  • Nearly 80% of Americans (79.2%) say if their workweek was shortened to 4 days, they would take part in fewer non-work activities during working hours.

Where Are Workers Clocking in From?

Illustrative map showing most common places Americans work remotely from.
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Remote workers are ditching the culture of cubicles, gray office spaces, and windowless boardrooms in lieu of sunshine and cozy workspaces. Part of the allure of working from home is that some companies allow you to work in different time zones — or even different hemispheres.

In fact, 3 in 10 Americans (31.3%) say they plan to travel while working remotely in 2023, according to our survey results. Who wouldn’t love working from Hawaii, Italy, or another beautiful location?

We found that most remote workers spend their work day at home (98.5%), at their local coffee shop (13.7%), at a friend’s house (12.4%), or even at a hotel or rental (12.3%). Discover some of our other remote work insights, below:

  • Americans working in the arts/entertainment (41.4%), information technology (42.2%), and education (40.2%) industries are most likely to travel while working remotely this year.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 Americans (39.0%) who are currently working remotely say they would never work a fully in-person job again. Millennials (41.1%) and baby boomers (40.4%) are more likely than other generations to share this sentiment.
  • 6 in 10 Americans (64.7%) say they have worked later in the day during off hours to catch up on work they didn’t do earlier due to non-work activities.

Americans’ Feelings on Remote Work

Infographic showing a variety of insights regarding Americans’ opinions on remote work.
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Working from home can be quite polarizing — Americans either love it or hate it. Author Malcolm Gladwell even went so far as to say, “It’s not in your best interest to work from home” — a sentiment that broke the internet!

While working from home may not be for everyone, Gen Xers (60.4%) and millennials (59.4%) claim to feel more productive working from home.

Still, working from home can come with plenty of distractions like turning on Netflix or playing with your puppy. Unsurprisingly, 1 in 7 Americans (12.8%) admit they only work for about 3 to 4 hours on average each day when working remotely. This is on par with the average office worker, however, who is productive for less than 3 hours a day.

Millennials (53.5%) and Gen Xers (57.6%) are more likely to work a full 8-hour day or longer, while Gen Zers (69.0%) are more likely to call it quits early when working remotely.

We also found that remote workers in certain fields were more productive working from the comfort of their own homes rather than joining their coworkers at the office. Those working in the marketing (75.0%), sales (72%), and information technology (68.8%) industries are most likely to get their work done at home. 

Methodology

To unpack the benefits of working from home, we surveyed over 1,000 Americans for a week in February 2023. We screened for remote workers across a variety of industries and demographics. We asked respondents questions about their habits during work hours, from productivity to travel plans to overall attitudes toward remote work, and more.

Final Thoughts

Remote work life can have its ups and downs, but getting to sip a cold brew while not being tied to your desk sounds like a win-win situation. We found that most remote workers enjoy working from their homes, local coffee shops, or a friend’s house. Plus, over 30% of them plan to travel in 2023 — taking their work with them wherever they go. Check out our list of the best U.S. airports for remote workers if you’re ready to plan the “workcation” of your dreams!

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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