Is The Era Of Working From Home Over? Data Shows It Might Be

Nearly three years into the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, about six-in-ten American workers who report that their work is mostly done at home nearly full time. Looking ahead, 60% of workers say when the coronavirus outbreak is over, they would want to work from home all or most of the time, if given the choice. For instance, among employed adults with jobs that can be done from home who are currently working at least some time but rarely or never did so prior to the coronavirus outbreak, 64 percent said working from home has made it easier to balance their job and their personal lives.

Remote workers are far more likely to report being happy at their jobs than those in an office environment. Nearly one-third of recently remote workers report working from home has had an adverse effect on their productivity. Research shows that companies’ remote workers are between 35-40% more productive than their office-based colleagues.

Is Remote Work Here To Stay?

The Pew Research Center reported in mid-2020, during the height of coronavirus-related shutdowns, remote workers were far more likely to report being happy at their jobs than those in an office environment (57% vs. 50%). Nearly one-third of recent remote workers report working from home has had an adverse effect on their productivity, compared to just 13% of remote workers who are more experienced. Research shows that companies lose $600 billion annually due to workplace distractions, and remote workers are between 35-40% more productive than their office-based colleagues.

When employees work from home, they may feel detached from their organizations, and almost half (47%) of participants in our survey mentioned that effective communication was critical in making the switch to telecommuting. Fully 86% of workers who do not work entirely from home–either by choice or because they cannot telecommute–said that they had at least some face-to-face interactions with others in their workplace. About half of workers who are working exclusively or mostly from home, and whose office is closed, say they would feel comfortable going to their workplace if it were reopened within the next month. About half of the full-time American workforce–about 60 million workers–reports their current jobs could be done remotely, working at least some of the time.

Does Work From Home Increase Productivity?

Interestingly, eighty-seven percent of workers who are offered at least some remote work took advantage of the opportunity, spending on average three days per week working from home. Thirty-five percent of workers are able to work from home full-time, while 23 percent are able to do so parttime. A notable 92 million individuals across a range of occupations and types of work–report having the opportunity to work from home full time or some of the week.

The data shows workers in fields like healthcare, research, operations, education, and customer support are most likely to say working from home is either not possible or hard, whereas those in business development, product, or project management find it far easier. Six-in-ten of these workers say the main reason that they rarely or never work from home is that they like working from their place of employment, while a similar share (61%) name feeling more productive in their place of employment as the main reason. Workers who are working in their home environments report being less distracted by their colleagues, spending 30 minutes less talking about unworked topics, and spending 7% less time talking with management.

What Will the Strange New Future Hold?

Several studies over the last several months have shown that work performance is better when working from home than when working from an office setting. The same study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also found workers employed in finance, business, and managerial occupations (37%) and workers employed in professional and related occupations (33%) were more likely than those employed in other occupations to be doing some or all of their work from home during their working days. An astonishing 54% of workers who now work solely from home said that they are likely to seek other employment; 38% of workers who are employed hybridly said the same.

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