The current, preferred, and future state of remote work

Story Highlights

  • Gallup estimates more than 70 million American workers can get their jobs done while working remotely
  • Only two in 10 employees able to work remotely currently work entirely onsite
  • When an employee’s location preference doesn’t match their current workplace, burnout increases while engagement decreases

The situation:

The “great global work-from-home experiment” created by the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and we plan to work long into the future.

As organizations return to office life, employees and employers are navigating a new chapter in that experience. The one that now combines the flexibility of remote work and on-site work.

This new chapter is just beginning to be written as 2022 progresses and more and more employees return to the office for at least part of their week.

Getting back to the office and building a long-term remote work strategy will require a good understanding of how organizations structure remote work flexibility and what works best for employees.

Key issues:

Using a nationally representative sample of 8,090 U.S. employees able to work remotely surveyed in June 2022, we explored the following questions:

  1. How many remote-capable employees are currently working hybrid or fully remote?
  2. Where do they hope to work in the long term and where would they prefer to work?
  3. What happens when employees able to work remotely aren’t working in their preferred location(s)?

The results:

Idea #1:

How many remote-capable employees are currently working hybrid or fully remote?

About 56% of full-time employees in the United States — more than 70 million workers — say their work can be done remotely from home. We call them “remote capable employees”.

Current place of work for teleworkers from June 2022:

  • five out of 10 work in a hybrid way (part of their week at home and part on site)
  • three out of 10 work exclusively remotely
  • two out of 10 are fully on site

###Incorporate###

Idea #2:

Where do remote-capable employees expect to work long-term and where would they prefer to work?

Hybrid work increased in 2022 (from 42% in February to 49% in June) and is expected to increase further to reach 55% remote workers by the end of 2022 and beyond.

  • This shift aligns closely with the preferences of many remote-capable workers, as 60% want a long-term hybrid work arrangement.

Fully remote work arrangements are expected to continue to decline from three in 10 remote employees in June, to two in 10 long-term, despite the fact that 34% want to work permanently from home.

  • Still, long-term fully remote work arrangements are expected to nearly triple from 2019 numbers. Whether that shift satisfies employees with a strong affinity for permanent working from home remains to be seen.

Fully on-site work should remain a relic of the past with only two in 10 remote employees currently working fully onsite and around the same number expecting to be fully onsite in the future – up from 60% in 2019.

20220824_Narrative1Chart2@2x

Idea #3:

What happens when employees able to work remotely aren’t working in their preferred location(s)?

The risk: Employees who do not work in their preferred location have significantly lower employee engagement, as well as higher burnout and desire to quit. They just don’t feel well positioned to do their best work or live their best life.

###Incorporate###

Changing expectations of workers who feel stuck in place: Onsite workers whose work is remote compatible have a growing desire for remote flexibility. While the majority (65%) prefer hybrid working; the desire to work exclusively at the WFH has doubled since October 2021.

###Incorporate###

The endowment effect: Behavioral economics teaches us that people don’t like to give up the things they have acquired – we are inherently averse to loss. Likewise, many employees working in a hybrid or fully remote manner have come to expect permanent remote flexibility.

  • six in 10 exclusively remote employees are ‘extremely likely to switch companies’ if they don’t have remote flexibility
  • three in 10 hybrid employees are ‘extremely likely to switch companies’ if they don’t have remote flexibility
  • demand for long-term remote flexibility has increased significantly since June 2021

###Incorporate###

What leaders should do next:

Making the right decisions today, planning for the future, and adapting as you learn requires a solid understanding of your employees’ work experiences and how they evolve. We recommend that you begin this assessment process by reviewing the current state of remote work, business needs, and risks of your organization so that you can more effectively navigate the nuances of your remote and hybrid work strategies.

Follow us for future briefings on the most important management policies and practices for a successful return to the office.

To build a hybrid work strategy:

Authors)

Ben Wigert is director of research and strategy, Workplace Management, at Gallup.

Sangeeta Agrawal is research director at Gallup.

Leave a Reply