Most who work from home want to keep doing it, study finds. Will they be able to?
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Nearly 90% of people who have been able to work from home during the pandemic do not want to go back to the office full time, even once it’s safe to do so, according to a new study out today from Pew Research. And employers are already thinking about how that’s going to change their workplaces.
Jonathan Soon is in that majority of people who would like to keep working from home permanently.
“At home, I have a window by where I work, so I can open it and get fresh air, or just look out the window,” he said.
There are no windows in the IT department where he works at a university in Southern California. He likes how quiet it is at home and not having to commute.
Pew Research found that more than half of people whose jobs have allowed them to work from home during COVID-19 want to keep doing it all or most of the time. Another third say they’d like to at least some of the time.
“That’s creating a lot of conversation about how we’re going to operate in summer 2021,” said Justin Draeger, who runs the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., with about 45 people on staff. Nearly all of them now say they want to be able to divide their time between home and the office. And Draeger’s OK with that.
“This idea of being in the office five days a week, I think, is a bygone era for companies that have successfully moved to telework,” he said.
And a lot have. Kate Lister, with Global Workplace Analytics, said the companies she’s talking to in tech, law, banking and insurance are planning to keep doing it after the pandemic ends.
“We’ve reached the tipping point where there’s enough companies that are going to be offering it, that if you’re a company that doesn’t offer it or allow it, you’re simply not going to be able to hold on to your people or attract the best talent,” she said.
Before the pandemic, most of the people who have jobs that can be done remotely rarely, if ever, worked from home, the study found.
“This is really a big change,” said Juliana Horowitz, associate director for social and demographic trends research at Pew. “That even if people don’t want to necessarily work from home all the time, that there’s definitely a shift towards wanting that to be at least part of their work arrangement,”
That will be a welcome shift for people in industries where working from home is possible. But they’re generally the Americans who earn the most. For most people, working from home isn’t an option.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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