About 30 per cent of all working days will be done from home in the post-pandemic “new normal” – up to 50 per cent among those who can easily work remotely – according to a respected survey of American workers to be presented to a Sydney audience this week.
The research also suggests employers could use working from home to limit wage growth and that employees would sacrifice a portion of their income to preserve their right to work from home.
The ongoing study, which surveys between 5,000 and 10,000 American employees a month, suggests the preferences of workers and employers in the US have now converged at a point where both are happy with a hybrid model of office and remote work.
This permanent shift has major implications for companies, city planners and transport networks, one of the researchers, Jose Maria Barrero of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, will tell the Committee for Sydney on Thursday.
“Transport systems, at least in the US, stand to take a big hit,” Barrero, an assistant professor of finance, told the herald. “The numbers of commuters that you’ll see during rush hours on Monday through Friday are just not going to be the same.”
Conducted monthly since May 2020, the survey consistently found employees liked working from home. While there used to be a “big gap” between what workers wanted and what bosses wanted, that gap has shrunk as employers warm to the hybrid model, Barrero said.
His team – which comprises academics at the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University – estimates about 55 per cent of jobs need to be on-site, while 30 per cent of the working population will work on a hybrid basis and the remaining 15 per cent can be fully remote.
Recently, the researchers have investigated whether current work-from-home patterns might be the “post-COVID norm”. About 80 per cent of respondents who do some level of remote working say they are already following their employer’s long-term post-pandemic plan; only about 15 to 20 per cent say they aren’t in the office as much as their employer would like.