Although the transition to remote work was a necessity for many workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, employees said they’ve witnessed firsthand the benefits and convenience it can offer. With "normal" life growing closer, workers want this aspect of pandemic-era life to stay.
FlexJobs, an online job search service based in Boulder, Colo., found in a recent survey that many people working remotely during the pandemic want to continue doing so in the future. In fact, 58% of respondents said that they would "absolutely" look for a new opportunity if they weren’t able to continue working remotely in their current role.
Remote workers save time and money, but they struggle with mental health
When asked about their concerns for a mass return to the office, respondents cited the following worries:
- COVID-19 exposure and infection (49%)
- Work flexibility (46%)
- Work-life balance (43%)
- Office politics and distractions (34%)
- Lack of health and safety measures (32%)
The advantages that telecommuting offers, by contrast, can be too attractive to pass up. More than 8 in 10 participants (84%) cited not having a commute as the biggest benefit of remote work, followed by cost savings (75%).
Notably, in terms of cost savings, almost 4 in 10 remote workers (38%) reported saving at least $5,000 a year in money they'd otherwise spend on eating out, dry cleaning, gas and more. One in 5 saved more than $200 a week — or more than $10,000 a year — on these expenses.
Of course, working from home comes with its own challenges. Respondents especially struggled with:
- Healthy work boundaries (35%)
- Non-work distractions (28%)
- Technology problems (28%)
- Reliable Wi-Fi (26%)
- Video meeting fatigue (24%)
More than half of respondents (56%) experienced burnout at some point during the pandemic, and 39% said their mental health is worse now than it was in January 2020.
Similarly, a survey from The Standard showed that 46% of employees are struggling with their mental health amid the crisis, an increase of seven percentage points from pre-pandemic times.
Telecommuters investing more in home office setups, professional development
With many of today's employees going all in on remote work, it comes as no surprise that they've invested more money and resources into their home office setups.
Many remote workers have set up a permanent workspace in their homes, whether it’s a dedicated office space (34%) or an "actual" home office (24%). Nine in 10 telecommuters reported spending money on their home office in 2020 — in particular:
- 42% spent between $100 and $500
- 12% spent more than $1,000
This aligns with recent findings from Hippo: The home insurance company revealed that home offices were one of the biggest areas of improvement for homeowners over the past year, with 52% of survey respondents also buying office equipment to update their workspaces.
Still, remote workers' office spaces aren't the only things seeing a refresh.
The FlexJobs survey also found that 86% of work-from-home employees have put more effort toward professional or skill development. These projects included:
- Taking online professional development courses (51%)
- Learning new remote working tools (47%)
- Learning new professional skills (44%)
- Attending virtual professional development events (41%)
- Studying for or earning a new certification (28%)
Methodology: From March 17 to April 5, 2021, FlexJobs used SurveyMonkey to conduct an online survey of 2,181 respondents who have been working remotely during the pandemic. Seven in 10 respondents (72%) were Americans, 4% were Canadians and 24% lived outside of those two countries.