Most remote workers don't want to return to office, new poll finds

Most Americans still say they can do their work from home

A new poll found that the majority of Americans working remotely would choose to keep doing so if given the option. 

At one point, remote work was the norm, but a number of companies resumed at least hybrid working over the past year. Researchers at the Pew Research Center noted that most U.S. workers don’t have jobs that can be done from home, and even those who work remotely mostly go into the office for at least some in-person interaction. 

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A new Pew poll found around 59% of Americans say they can work from home – down from the 71% who said the same in Oct. 2020. 

And given the choice, 61% of Americans who are working remotely say they would choose to remain remote, almost double the amount that said the same in Oct. 2020. Roughly 83% of those workers said they were working remotely before the omicron variant spread across the United States. 

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Reasons for remote work have shifted in the two years since the pandemic began, with the vast majority of supporters – 64% – citing an easier work-life balance. Geography also played a role, with 17% of remote workers saying they have relocated and cannot easily reach the office. 

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And 44% say remote work has made it easier to finish work and meet deadlines. 

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But around 60% of respondents noted that they felt less connected to co-workers as a result of the remote set-up, with another 36% saying they felt about the same. 

Two years into the pandemic, around 50% of workers who go into the office say they’re either very (19%) or somewhat (32%) concerned about exposure to COVID-19. 

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Of course, not everyone has the choice of working remotely, with education and income playing a role: Around 65% of workers with at least a bachelor's degree say they can work from home, and 67% of upper-income workers say the same. Only 53% of lower-income workers said they could complete their jobs from home. 

The poll conducted by the Pew Research Center asked around 10,200 Americans – only about half of whom are fully employed – about a number of aspects related to the shifting workplace environment that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.