Workers Really Don’t Want to Return to the Office Full-Time: Poll

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear: Workers really enjoy doing their jobs from home.

When Pew Research Center polled 5,889 workers about their remote-work habits and preferences, some 61 percent said they were choosing to keep working from home, versus 38 percent who said they were doing so only because their workplace was closed or otherwise unavailable. That’s a big shift from earlier in the pandemic, when 64 percent said they were working from home because of a closed office, versus the 36 percent who chose to work remotely. 

Among remote workers, “fewer cite concerns about being exposed to the coronavirus – 42 percent now vs. 57 percent in 2020 say this is a major reason they are currently working from home all or most of the time,” Pew’s report stated. “And more say a preference for working from home is a major reason they’re doing so (76 percent now vs. 60 percent in 2020).” Since 2020, there’s also been a significant increase “in the share saying the fact that they’ve relocated away from the area where they work is a major reason why they’re currently teleworking” (from 9 percent to 17 percent).

Moreover, many workers simply don’t want to go back to their old desks. “Looking to the future, 60 percent of workers with jobs that can be done from home say when the coronavirus outbreak is over, if they have the choice, they’d like to work from home all or most of the time,” the report added. “This is up from 54 percent who said the same in 2020. Among those who are currently working from home all or most of the time, 78 percent say they’d like to continue to do so after the pandemic, up from 64 percent in 2020.”

Within the tech industry, recent studies have made it clear that many technologists have shifted to either full-time or hybrid work. Take a look at this chart from late 2021, courtesy of GitHub’s latest State of the Octoverse report:

Many technologists like how hybrid work allows them to interact with colleagues and managers face-to-face, while still getting all the benefits of working from home for most of the week. In Dice’s 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report, for example, 85 percent of technologists said they found the prospect of hybrid work anywhere from somewhat to extremely desirable. Ninety-four percent of younger technologists (i.e., those between 18 and 34 years old) thought of a hybrid workplace as either somewhat, very or extremely desirable, compared to 84 percent of those aged 35 and older.

The bigger question is whether executives and managers will listen effectively to workers' needs. Last year’s Future Forum Pulse survey asked 10,500 knowledge workers around the world about their companies’ approach to flexible work; some 66 percent of executives reported designing their post-pandemic policies with “little to no direct input from employees.” That’s not a good sign. With the tech unemployment rate notably low at the moment, technologists feel empowered to walk out the door and find a company that fits their remote and scheduling needs.