USA Today reported on the results of the fifth annual survey of the State of Remote Work conducted by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics. The nationwide survey was done last summer at a time when almost one-fourth of workers continued to work at least part-time from home.
The survey showed a strong desire of employees to work from home, at least part-time. Here are a few of the most interesting findings from the survey:
- A little more than half of all employees would choose to work full-time from home. 74% of those interviewed said that working at home made them happier.
- Almost half of workers said they would take a 5% pay cut to continue to work remotely, at least part of the time.
- 91% of those working at home say they are as productive or more productive than when in the office. 55% say they work more hours at home than when they are in the office.
- Almost one-fourth of employees said they would quit their jobs if they aren’t allowed to work remotely. For context, this survey was done at a time when employees were quitting jobs at historic rates.
- A lot of employees changed jobs during the pandemic. 90% of them were looking for a better career. 88% also wanted a better work-life balance. 87% were looking for less stress. 84% wanted more flexibility for where they work, and 82% wanted more flexibility of when they work.
- A lot of people relocated during the pandemic, which was made easier through working from home. Two-thirds of employees who relocated were between the ages of 26 and 40. Interestingly to those reading this blog, 63% of employees who moved from urban areas to rural areas were in this age group. More than half of those that moved from suburban to rural areas also were in the younger age group.
This survey shows similar results to other surveys taken over the last few years. It seems that many people got a taste of working from home and decided that they like it more than going to the office every day. A lot of employers are starting to demand that workers return to the office, and many have been reporting a mass exodus of employees who don’t wish to come back.
This has a lot of implications for rural and suburban communities. Many people want to get away from the stress of urban life and lead a more relaxing lifestyle – but they need good broadband to do so. Remote workers don’t want so-so broadband, but reliable broadband that means they can always connect remotely as needed. 56% of younger workers said they would love to incorporate virtual reality and virtual meetings into the workday – something that will require fast upload and download speeds.
From an economic development perspective, work-from-home employees are a huge boon to a rural community that has likely been aging and slowly shrinking over time. Employees making good salaries can provide a huge boost to a local economy. For years, rural communities have sunk big tax incentives into trying to attract new employers. It probably costs a lot less to attract one hundred remote workers than to lure a traditional employer that will bring a hundred jobs.
I have rural clients that operate rural fiber networks who tell me that their communities are seeing a new demand for building new homes and that housing prices are increasing as people want to move to the community.
This presents an interesting challenge to rural communities wondering how to get the word out to prospective work-from-home employees. This new trend is a 180-degree turn from traditional economic development efforts – but communities that master this ought to grow and thrive and bring fresh breath into aging communities.