As the pandemic wanes, many companies are asking their employees to return to the office. However, a majority of remote U.S. workers who went virtual during the pandemic have no desire to return to the office and may move to a new job if work from home policies are revoked. Additionally, many would consider permanently relocating to a new city or community if they were paid to do so.
These were among many of the findings of a new national survey released by MakeMyMove (MakeMyMove.com), a remote worker-community connection marketplace.
According to the survey, 58% of remote workers, or almost 35 million employees, say that they are either likely or somewhat likely to look for a new position that offers remote work flexibility if their employers don't permanently extend their work from home policies once the pandemic is over.
The survey also revealed some interesting insights along age and gender lines. Eighty-one percent of 18-24 year olds and 67% of 25-34 year olds say they are more likely to go job hunting if their remote work privileges ended. And men (65%) are more likely than women (53%) to make the jump. The survey also found that many of these workers might also be moving to a new community.
Almost one third (29%) of remote workers, or 17.4 million employees, say that they are eying a move to a new city or town in the next 18 months while continuing to work remotely. Half of the respondents said they would also consider permanently relocating if offered $10,000 and if the new community has the lifestyle amenities they want.
From offering free plots of land to covering moving expenses and providing financial incentives to buy or build a house, many cities and towns are luring these workers to their communities, and for good reason.
"For cities and towns that keenly understand the economic and other benefits these workers bring to their communities, financial incentive packages can be the decisive factor in their remote worker talent attraction strategy. A ten thousand dollar investment to offset the cost of moving is a no-brainer when it means adding a new contributor to the local economy," said MakeMyMove Co-founder Evan Hock. MakeMyMove provides a clearinghouse for such inducements.
While social distancing for health and safety reasons and avoiding stressful commutes are a major part of the appeal of remote work, the remote workers surveyed found a number of other attractive benefits for seeking greener pastures.
These benefits included a lower cost of living (37%), more affordable housing (31%), an ability to live in a different climate (30%), a chance to meet new people and make new friends (28%) and the chance to live on a larger piece of property (27%).
As it stands, fully remote work from home policies or some sort of hybrid model will define the new normal for what millions of Americans expect from their jobs. Forty-four percent of survey respondents prefer the flexibility to split time between their home and office, and only 17% would prefer to go back to the office full time. And, while the Best Practice Institute reported that 83% of CEOs want their employees back in the office in 2021, this same study found that over 75% of remote worker respondents felt their personal productivity improved while working from home.
Time will tell how Americans navigate these new remote work expectations and determine whether the preferences of employers or those of the employees will win out. For now, however, it's clear that hybrid and remote work are going to remain an important feature of the American jobs landscape.