Research: Remote Employees Want to Stay Remote
New study also found that more people want to shift to remote work arrangements-and a significant number would leave their current employer for the opportunity to do so
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed workplace dynamics for countless businesses across the country. At the onset, the pandemic drove a need for many businesses to provide remote and hybrid arrangements to stay operational and keep employees safe. Now widespread, these arrangements have transformed employee expectations-and are preferred to physical workplaces among a substantial number of Americans.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics1, 47 million people voluntarily quit their jobs last year-12 million more than the previous year when the pandemic began-and with more than 76.5 million job openings, the jobseeker’s market is pronounced. There are quite simply more jobs open than people willing to fill them. Organizations are scrambling to recruit top talent, engage existing employees, and retain members of their workforce. For a significant percentage of the U.S. labor force, the ability to work remotely will either be a deal maker or a deal breaker when choosing an employer.
To better understand these challenges and identify potential solutions, we conducted research2 of more than 3,000 Americans. Respondents were asked about their current workplace arrangements, how they would prefer to work in the future, the factors that influence these preferences, and whether they would change jobs for the ability to work remotely.
Our top takeaways? Half of respondents are working remotely part or all of the time-and want to continue doing so. Nearly three quarters (73%) prefer to work remotely in some capacity. And for the majority of respondents, the ability to work remotely is a critical employee benefit; 40% reported that the ability to work remotely full- or part-time would contribute to them seeking new employment.
Here are other noteworthy findings:
- Incentives can help encourage some employees-but not all-to return to physical offices. Nearly one third (29%) of employees currently working remotely reported that no incentive would entice them to work in a physical office. The remaining 71% would be open to receiving an incentive to do so-but have very specific incentives in mind. Among overall respondents, 20% reported that no incentive would entice them to work in a physical office.
- Employers wanting employees to work in physical offices better be ready to pay up. Money was the number one type of incentive employees reported would make them more willing to work in a physical workplace; this incentive was desired by 62% of overall respondents. Among respondents that already work remotely all or part of the time, the average amount of money they’d require was substantial ($11,700).
- In general, people want more flexibility. In addition to monetary incentives, 49% of respondents-including those who enjoy and even prefer working in-person-reported that they’d be more willing to work in a physical office if they were able to enjoy a four-day work week, and 44% reported wanting paid time off.
- There’s a long list of benefits from working remotely. The number one reason respondents preferred to work remotely is that they can avoid a commute (39%). Other top reasons include:
- They appreciate the ability to manage small household tasks during the workday (38%)
- They prefer to dress more casually and comfortably (36%)
- There are fewer distractions when they work remotely compared to a physical workplace (28%)
- They want to distance from others during the pandemic (26%)
- They prefer to work more autonomously (25%)
- They want to spend more time with their pet(s) during the day (23%)
- In-person work isn’t dead. Nearly half of the respondents surveyed who work in-person prefer to do so, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want incentives for showing up. Just like remote workers, people who work in-person want monetary incentives-but they expect far less ($5,100 as opposed to $11,700).
“We’re in the midst of a workplace revolution, and employers looking to engage, retain, and attract top talent have their work cut out for them,” said Jeff Haughton, SVP, Incentives, Corporate Development & Strategy at Blackhawk Network. “In today’s jobseeker’s market, people are empowered to seek out employment opportunities that best fit their lifestyles. As people actively look for remote working arrangements, our research suggests that employers that require at least some in-person work can leverage incentives to remain competitive in the professional landscape. Tailoring incentives programs to emergent employee preferences is key in recruiting and retention efforts, and while money talks, the freedom of choice in workplace structure can also be a significant differentiator. For businesses that cannot offer remote work, strategic incentives programs that offer employees the rewards they want most will be vital.”
1 “Job Openings and Labor Turnover – January 2022” is part of a monthly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2 “Workplace Arrangements, Rewards, and Engagement Survey” is an internet-based survey conducted by Survey Monkey on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 25, 2022 and March 1, 2022. The sample size included 3,278 U.S. respondents ages 18+.