Over the past few decades, a small but growing group of people have worked remotely from their homes. With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people found themselves joining this group overnight. In this position paper, we examine the kinds of work that ‘went remote’ in response to the pandemic, and consider the ways in which this transition was influenced by (and in turn came to influence) contemporary trends in digital workplace measurement and evaluation. We see that employers appeared reluctant to let certain classes of employee work remotely. When the pandemic forced staff home, employers compensated by turning to digital surveillance tools, even though, as we argue, these tools seem unable to overcome the significant conceptual barriers to understanding how people are working. We also observed that, in the United Kingdom context, the pandemic didn’t mean remote work for a significant proportion of the population. We assert that, to maximize its impact, ‘future of work’ research in human-centred computing must be more inclusive and representative of work, rather than focusing on the experiences of knowledge workers and those involved in new forms of work.