Top concerns of returning to the office include COVID-19 exposure, less work flexibility, worse work-life balance. - IMAGE:

Top concerns of returning to the office include COVID-19 exposure, less work flexibility, worse work-life balance.

BOULDER, Colo. – According to a FlexJobs survey* of more than 2,100 people who have been working remotely during the pandemic, 58 percent say they would absolutely look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. 31 percent weren’t sure what they would do and only 11 percent said not being able to continue working remotely was not a big deal to them.

The landscape of remote work has permanently changed as a result of COVID-19 and its impact will be felt in the job market and the workplace well into the foreseeable future.

65 percent would prefer to work remotely full-time post-pandemic, while 33 percent would like a combination of remote and in-office work (hybrid work arrangement). Just 2 percent would prefer to return to the traditional office on a full-time basis. While workers are most concerned about COVID-19 exposure/infection (49%), having less work flexibility (46%) and less work-life balance (43%) were other key apprehension points in returning to traditional workplaces.

“I’m not surprised to see that more than half of people working remotely during the pandemic, even under these strained and unusual circumstances, appreciate its benefits to such a strong degree that they would leave their current jobs in order to keep working from home,” said Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “The landscape of remote work has permanently changed as a result of COVID-19 and its impact will be felt in the job market and the workplace well into the foreseeable future,” concluded Sutton.

Below is a summary of findings from the 2,181 people surveyed who worked remotely during the pandemic and/or are currently still working remotely. More detailed findings can be found here: 

Cost Savings of Working Remotely

  • 38 percent of people working remotely estimate that they save at least $5,000 a year from remote work (from not eating out, no gas, dry cleaning, etc). One in 5 are saving more than $200/week, which is $10,000+ a year.
  • Not surprising, cost savings is listed as the 2nd top benefit of working remotely (75%), second only to not having a commute (84%). 

Home Office Setups:

  • More than half of remote workers have a specific home office setup. 24 percent have an actual home office and 34% have created a dedicated home office space.
  • Nine out of 10 remote workers spent money on their home office in 2020. 42 percent spent between $100-$500 while 12% spent more than $1000.
  • If they secured a permanent remote work arrangement, 37 percent would definitely consider relocating and 31% said they might consider it. Top factors influencing this decision were better quality of life (58%), lower cost of living/housing (47%), and different/better climate (38%). 

Management Preferences

  • Most remote workers prefer not to hear from their supervisors more than a few times per week. The ideal number of check ins:
    • A few times per week (31%)
    • 1x/week (27%) 
    • As little as possible (22%)
    • Less than 1 in 5 (18%) prefer to hear from their supervisors more than a couple times a day
  • Only 14% said relationships with their bosses are harder to manage in a virtual environment.

Productivity & Collaboration 

  • 55 percent say their productivity actually increased while working remotely, while 33% say it’s stayed the same. Only 6% say their productivity decreased.
  • Roughly one- third (30%) say their ability to collaborate has improved in a virtual environment compared to working in a traditional office, another third says their ability to collaborate has suffered (33%), and another third says it has been unchanged (34%). The remaining 3% are unsure. 

All About Video Meetings

  • Attitude: 50 percent of remote workers say they like video meetings (Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) compared to only 14% who say that they don't like them. 33 percent are neutral and 3% didn’t use them.
  • Pain points: Dealing with technical/software issues (screens freezing, poor audio, etc.) (58%) is the primary pain point with video meetings. Video fatigue (28%), reading non-verbal cues (28%) and background distractions (26%) followed. 
  • Favorite elements: Not having to travel/drive to meetings (75%), wearing comfortable clothing (58%), the ability to mute (55%) and more scheduling flexibility (51%) were the top favorite elements of video meetings. 

Biggest Challenges of Remote Work

  • Overwork/unplugging (35%) is the biggest challenge for remote workers. Dealing with non-work distractions (28%), troubleshooting technology problems (28%) and reliable WiFi (26%) were other top pain points. 

Professional Development

  • 86 percent engaged in some kind of professional or skill development during the pandemic, most notably taking online courses (51%). Only 1 in 5 think their professional skill set has suffered during the pandemic.
  • The vast majority (70%) do not think working remotely during the pandemic has had an impact either way on their chances of promotion/advancement.

Mental Health & Wellness

  • More than half (56%) say they have experienced burnout during the pandemic.
  • 39 percent say their mental health is worse today than it was pre-pandemic (January 2020) 

*FlexJobs created the survey, which was promoted to general audiences and its subscribers/members primarily through social media and newsletters. FlexJobs used a multiple choice and multi-select question format via Survey Monkey’s online platform. The survey ran from March 17, 2021- April 5, 2021.

 **Demographic breakdown of the 2,181 respondents: Location: United States (72%), Canada (4%) Outside US & Canada (24%) ; Gender: women (74%), men (25%), prefer not to identify (1%); Ages: 24 and under (4%), 25-40 (30%), 41-56 (43%), 57+ (23%); Education: high school degree or equivalent (4%), some college but no degree (12%), associate or bachelor’s degree (49%), graduate degree (35%); Income: over $100,000 (10%), $75,000-$99,999 (11%), $50,000-$74,999 (20%), $25,000-$49,999 (23%), less than $25,000 (23%), and 13% preferred not to answer. 32% had children 18 or younger living at home with them. 

For more information please visit or contact Kathy Gardner at [email protected].

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