Survey finds 80% of employees want remote work to continue post-pandemic

While the shift from driving to an office in a suit to shuffling to a laptop in slippers was supposed to be a temporary reaction to the global health crisis, the majority of employees want it to be a permanent change.

The majority (80 per cent) of U.S. employees said they expect to work remotely at least three times per week after the coronavirus pandemic is over, according to a new survey by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics.

The survey, which polled 2,025 full-time workers in June and July, also found one in two respondents said they won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote working once the crisis is over.

Read: Head to head: Should remote working continue after the pandemic?

Indeed, survey respondents preferred remote working so much that 23 per cent said they’re willing to take a pay cut of more than 10 per cent in order to continue to work from home at least some of the time, compared to only eight per cent in 2019.

“Leaders, take note. Requiring all employees to be in an office or onsite is now a policy of the past,” said the report. “Employees now expect the flexibility to work where they want. Remote work can make or break a company’s ability to recruit and retain employees. Almost 70 per cent of respondents said if working from home was no longer an option post-pandemic, they would be less happy and almost half would look for another role that allowed remote work.”

More than three-quarters (79 per cent) of respondents ranked avoiding the commute as a main reason to continue working from home. In fact, the lack of commute is saving about 40 minutes per day, with respondents also saying they’re saving an average of US$641 per month working remotely. Most employees (72 per cent) also agreed the ability to work from home makes them less stressed and 77 per cent said it lets them better manage their work-life balance.

Read: Remote working, distributed workforces could be part of new normal post-coronavirus

While employers may fear the shift away from managing in-person teams, 75 per cent of survey respondents said they’re the same or more productive during the pandemic while working from home. And, on average, remote employees said they worked an extra 26 hours each month during the pandemic.

While remote work is preferred by employees, it’s not without some headaches. Video meetings are the new norm, with video calls taking place 50 per cent more than before the crisis. Employees said the top challenges during virtual meetings are interruptions/being talked over (62 per cent), background distractions from other participants (59 per cent), staying focused (57 per cent) and the audio and visual quality of video conferencing (56 per cent).

While employees want to continue remote working post-pandemic, 43 per cent said they fear it will impact their career progression.

Read: Shopify moving majority of employees to permanent remote work

“This year, there are more people new to working from home, so this suggests more are concerned about their newly remote career and its impact on growth and development,” said the report. “. . . COVID-19 has taught us that working from the office doesn’t equal productivity. With the right tools and support, people can work from anywhere.”