Key Highlights

  • New Pew Research Center survey indicates +50% of US employees want to continue remote working post-pandemic
  • 33% want hybrid option to telework sometimes

Many commercial landlords and employers will have their hands full in cajoling their employees back to the office.  According to a just released study by the Pew Research Center that surveyed some 6,000 US adult employees, more than half said they would like to keep their remote working arrangements beyond being vaccinated from the pandemic and beyond the pandemic itself.

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Some one-third of the survey respondents indicated they would like a hybrid option of working remotely at least some of the time and just 11% said they “rarely or never” want to work remotely.

Most employees, or 75% of the work force, will not have the choice of working remotely.  As of August 2020, only 25% of the work force was working remotely, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of that 25%, almost two-thirds hold bachelor’s degrees or higher.

A recent study from the University of Chicago found the same results as the Pew study regarding a preference for remote work among those who have this option. This study included 15,000 workers and “…reveals that the (remote working) experience has been positive and better than expected for the majority of firms and workers.” Many of these indicated that they would consider potentially trading as much as 8% of their salaries for the ability to continue working remotely. This study also concluded that remote working post-pandemic would increase productivity levels as much as 2.4%.

Beyond personal preferences and increased flexibility that favor remote working, 58% of Pew and 70% of University of Chicago survey respondents expressed worries about “getting sick” and “being too close to others” at work (riding public transportation, being in crowded elevators, eating indoors at restaurants, etc.) even after COVID vaccines are available to everyone. More women than men and more Black and Hispanic workers were likely to be worried than White workers.

Authors of the university study wrote, “This persistent fear of proximity to others is likely to leave some residual demand for social distancing at workplaces and prop up demand for working from home in the coming years.”

Some of those fortunate to be working remotely these last months were not wholly satisfied doing it. Employees under 50 years of age, especially those who were parents, said they were less able to stay motivated and focused on their tasks at hand. 25% said they were less satisfied with their jobs. 33% felt they were less connected to their co-workers and 20% felt they have less job security and advancement opportunities.

Real estate investors, landlords, restaurant owners, storefront retailers, take notice.  These findings have real implications for commercial, as well as residential, properties.

Thanks to the Pew Research Center, the University of Chicago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bloomberg.

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