Story at a glance
- New data from Pew Research Center highlights just how many Americans are working remotely.
- Among those who have a workplace outside the home, 61 percent said they are choosing not to go in.
- The reasons vary, with 42 percent citing exposure to COVID-19, while 76 percent said it’s simply their preference working from home all or most of the time.
The coronavirus pandemic upended the average workplace environment, quickly shifting away from in-person offices to working remotely, and new research suggests Americans prefer being able to work from home.
Newly published research from the Pew Research Center that surveyed roughly 10,000 Americans from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30 found that nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly 6 in 10 U.S. workers who say their jobs can be done from home, at 59 percent, are doing so from home all or most of the time. Now, more workers say they are working from home out of choice than necessity.
Among those who have a workplace outside of their home, 61 percent said they are choosing not to go in, while 38 percent said they’re working from home specifically because their workplace is closed or unavailable to them.
Interestingly, Pew Research noted just the opposite was true earlier in the pandemic, with 64 percent of people indicating they were working from home because their office was closed while 36 percent said they were choosing to work from home.
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The reasons why more Americans are choosing to work from home over going into the office vary, with 42 percent citing exposure to COVID-19, while 76 percent said it’s simply their preference working from home all or most of the time.
Remote work has given workers a newfound flexibility, with Pew Research finding 64 percent of those who are working from home at least some of the time but rarely did before the pandemic say it’s easier now to balance work with their personal life.
Pew Research also found that there’s been a significant increase in the percentage of people who said the fact that they’ve relocated away from the area where they work as a major reason why they’re currently working remotely, up to 17 percent compared to 9 percent in 2020.
However, Pew Research found that most U.S. workers, or about 60 percent, don’t have jobs that can be done from home, forcing them to go into their workplace at least sometimes. About half of these workers who ever interact with other people at their workplace say they’re very concerned about being exposed to COVID-19, at 19 percent, and 32 percent are somewhat concerned.
Separate data from Gallup found similar trends, with 45 percent of full-time employees working partly or fully remotely in September 2021, while 9 in 10 remote workers said they wanted to maintain remote work to some extent. Gallup also found that employers are at risk of losing talent if they don’t keep allowing remote work.
Gallup’s poll found that 3 in 10 employees say they are extremely likely to find another job if their current company eliminates the ability to work remotely.
Companies are trying to decide the best move to make, such as Microsoft, which announced it would be requiring employees to return to its Washington state-based offices by March in a hybrid work environment. Most Microsoft employees will be able to work from home up to 50 percent of the time.
“We know there’s not a singular solution to how people work best, which is why we believe flexibility should be at the forefront of our evolving hybrid workplace,” said Microsoft, in a company blogpost.
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