Apparently, working from home is worth making less money. In a survey on anonymous professional networking site Blind, when asked "Would you rather make $30k more switching to a new job that requires you to work in office or would you rather keep your current salary but wfh anywhere after covid?", 65% of respondents (out of a total of over 4,000) chose to work from home. You can see the data-set here.
The survey data itself is not broad - it's taken from a demographic that leans white collar, where working from home is more of an accepted (and feasibly) option. That said, it supports a trend where people are asking themselves is it a good idea to accept a job offer that doesn't offer remote work as an option. When Jobvite asked job candidates that question, 35% of them responded that they had turned down a job offer that did not offer remote. It's a serious consideration.
Working from home does have its benefits financially. To answer the question "how much do Americans spend commuting?", Business Insider pulled data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, and found Americans were spending $2-5k per year on commuting alone. And then layer in questions around how much does childcare cost working full-time in the US ($972 a month, or $11,664 per year on average - per kid). Now factor in time saved from commuting, and numerous other impacts, and $30,000 doesn't seem like enough to make up for it.
Along with the clear financial benefits, employees were interested in the option for stress-related reasons even before the pandemic. A survey sponsored by the MHA in 2018 found that 97% of respondents "felt that having a more flexible job would have a 'huge' or 'positive' impact on their quality of life".
In addition, employers are seeing the benefits. Take Tibersoft as one example. It's a Massachusetts-based b2b software company that supports the food-service industry. They were on a month-to-month lease as they looked for larger office space due to growth, when the pandemic hit. Within the first month they saw how well their workforce had adapted to remote work and chose to close their physical office. It's had a positive impact on recruitment as well. One leader at the company told RNN that "where we used to have 20 applicants for a role, it's now 200 - because we can look for candidates virtually anywhere".
In August, REI listed its recently built (and never occupied) corporate headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, for sale. Software companies in Silicon Valley are abandoning high-priced class A office space in places like Mountain View and establishing processes to answer questions around how do you onboard a fully remote employee, what does an EAP look like when the services are all delivered virtually, etc.
Some companies plan to remain 100% remote post-pandemic, while others - including companies like Reddit and Citiroup - will take a hybrid approach, giving workers more flexibility about where they work. In Manhattan as of March 2021, over 17% of the office space was vacant or soon to be, and the city is estimating that office towers there are worth 25% less. Many of those offices are being converted into apartment space.
The question now is: will workers ever fully return to the office, or is this a permanent shift? Pandemics invariably reshape societies, and at an increasingly global level. This may become one such change.
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