Employer and employee attitudes and expectations with respect to remote work have changed dramatically since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting widespread shift to working from home. Initially, many workers and employers had the expectation that the changes would be brief and temporary—perhaps a few weeks before everyone returned to the office.
Now, a year into the pandemic, many are questioning whether they will ever go back to the pre-COVID office setting. Indeed, many companies have even eliminated large amounts of office space, assuming their long-term need has diminished.
Preferences Related to Working from Home Changing
Over time, attitudes have also changed. Many employers initially assumed productivity would take a hit but have come to see steady or even improved productivity numbers, leading them to take a more positive view of long-term remote work. For employees, the extended shift to remote work has created mixed and changing sentiments.
While many initially embraced the idea of working from the comfort of their home, the reality of a home office, with its separation from work companions and myriad distractions, has soured some.
A newly released survey from Clever titled Office Space Demand Dwindles as Remote Work Grows in 2021 explores employee views of remote and in-office work. Overall, the survey finds that 63% of workers now prefer remote work over working in an office. But the survey provides deeper insights into the specifics of worker preferences.
Key Findings About Work-from-Home Preferences
- Of the people who have been working remotely during the pandemic, just 17% have already returned to the office. Twenty-nine percent of those working remotely plan to keep working remotely indefinitely— even after the pandemic.
- Employees prefer remote work because:
- They save time by eliminating their commute (62%).
- There is increased flexibility (61%).
- They save money (55%).
- They can spend more time with the people they live with (50%).
- They can sleep in (43%).
- In addition, people don’t want to go into an office because they worry about their health: Fifty-six percent of workers say their company is not taking appropriate safety measures regarding COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the nature of office work have stretched on longer than many imagined. Understandably, attitudes toward remote work have shifted over time as both employers and employees gain more experience with the arrangements.
Employers and their HR teams need to keep an ear to the ground when it comes to staff attitudes to make the most informed and effective decisions regarding their long-term remote work policies.