Because of coronavirus-related business shutdowns, many employees are suddenly working from home and not from their usual office. A growing number of employers have announced that they want to keep it that way — forever.
Twitter, which encouraged employees to work from home in early March, announced that if eligible employees want to continue to do so indefinitely, they can. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that 50% of his staff will likely be working from home within the next 10 years. Other companies have followed suit. In his company announcement of switching mostly to permanent remote work, Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke declared, “Office centricity is over.”
But is a fully remote workforce what American professionals actually want? Although many American workers would be excited or relieved by the permanent switch to remote work, not everyone would be pleased, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey that provides a more nuanced picture of how Americans feel about working from home and returning back to the office.
Many employees surveyed wanted a mix of remote work and office work.
Workers were asked if COVID-19 were no longer a concern, and they had the choice to design their preferred work setup, what would they want it to look like?
Among those who said the question applied to them, 38% said a mix of working from home and working from the office was preferred, 26% said they wanted to work from home all the time, 27% said they wanted to work from the office all the time, and 9% were not sure what they’d pick.
In total, about 65% of those to whom the question applied said they want to be in the office all or some of the time.
Many people who were driven from their workplaces by the coronavirus pandemic say they wouldn’t mind too much if working from home became the new normal. When asked how they would feel if their employer told them to work from home permanently, more said they would welcome the change than not. About half of people who started working from home due to the pandemic said they would be excited or relieved, while 26% said they would be disappointed, 8% said they would be upset, and the rest were not sure.
For many, communication has gotten worse during the coronavirus outbreak.
Some workers are thriving with the opportunity to work from home, while others are struggling. Forty-five percent of those who have been working from home due to the pandemic said they were about as productive as they were before the remote transition, 29% said they were less productive, and 22% answered that they were even more productive.
But remote communication can come with its own set of challenges during a pandemic. If communication is not consistent or clear, remote paranoia over what silences mean can sink in, for example. For some of the U.S. workers surveyed, work communication has gotten worse since the pandemic.
Of those working from home due to the pandemic, just 15% say they’re communicating better with co-workers, with 31% saying their ability to communicate has worsened. The rest say that their level of communication hasn’t much changed, that they’re not sure, or that the question doesn’t apply.
This is what Americans will — and won’t — miss about office life if the switch to remote work is permanent.
When asked to reflect on what they would and wouldn’t miss if the move to remote work became permanent, workers discussed commuting routines, office amenities, and the everyday interactions that left an impact on their work life.
What people would miss about their office if they were working from home permanently:
“Better internet and technology, good printer, nice desk.” — 55-year-old woman, California
“Getting out of the house and wearing nice clothes. Positive energy at work.” — 33-year-old woman, North Carolina
“My office and ability to focus without family and pets interrupting.” — 46-year-old woman, Massachusetts
“I work with kindergarten students and the kids are not able to receive the best education virtually without the proper preparations.” — 30-year-old woman, Pennsylvania
“Human contact with coworkers, yoga classes, free coffee and fruit, more exercise and walking, routine.” — 25-year-old woman, New Hampshire
“Better tap water.” — 26-year-old man, Illinois
“Gossip.” — 27-year-old man, California
What people wouldn’t miss about their office if they were working from home permanently:
“Dealing with people’s complaints.” — 37-year-old man, Georgia
“Dressing up for work.” — 48-year-old man, Georgia
“Getting up at 5:30 in the morning.” — 57-year-old woman, Massachusetts
“Hovering people.” — 29-year-old woman, Florida
“My jerk office mates.” — 33-year-old man, California
“In-person meetings and the loud atmosphere.” — 21-year-old woman, New Jersey
“Having to always put on the ‘work smile’ and facade.” — 19-year-old woman, Texas
“People coming in sick.” — 43-year-old man, Minnesota
“Having the boss watch you.” — 55-year-old man, Alabama
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,964 completed interviews conducted May 18-20 among U.S. adults, including 353 workers who usually work from an office, but are now working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. It uses a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate.