Will Remote Work Outlast the Pandemic? Survey Says...

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Will Remote Work Outlast the Pandemic? Survey Says...

After weeks of being forced to work at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many workers have no desire to turn back.

Nearly half of employees would like to keep working from home and more than 45% say their employers are actively considering or at least open to that option, according to a survey of more than 1200 workers this month by getAbstract, an online business library.

"The fact significant numbers of employers are now considering remote work for their employees could bring societal changes that rival when large numbers of women first entered the workforce decades ago," said Andrew Savikas, chief strategy officer at getAbstract in a statement.

Only 3.4% of the U.S. workforce telecommuted in 2019, though that was up from 2.9% in 2015, according to Flexjobs.

With so much uncertainty about the virus and when the economy will reopen, most employers have been vague about how long remote work will continue. However, Seattle-based Zillow Group told its 5,249 employees Friday that they can work from home until at least the end of the year. "This situation has dramatically changed how we envision our future of work and we expect this experience will influence our decisions going forward," said a Zillow spokeswoman. (dot.LA co-founder and chairman Spencer Rascoff co-founded Zillow.)

A recent survey from getAbstract finds early half of employees would like to keep working from home.getAbstract

The new survey showed that for those who had never worked remotely before the pandemic, nearly 50% did not want to return to the office. 80% of those who occasionally worked remotely want to do so more of the time.

On the other side of the equation, more than half of employers surveyed plan to expand or increase flexible work arrangements after the coronavirus outbreak is contained, according to a survey of 27 companies this month by the Institute for Corporate Productivity.

How many jobs can be done entirely at home remains an open question. A recent study by the University of Chicago found only a third of work could be remote.

Although demand for office space in Los Angeles has taken a pause since the spread of the coronavirus, real estate brokers expect the trend to be temporary.

"We will probably go back to business as usual and make adjustments," predicted Petra Durnin, head of market analytics at HelloOffice.

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