Working from home has become the new normal for many office workers during the coronavirus pandemic. CivicScience data found that working Americans have varying opinions toward remote work and comfort returning to the traditional office setting, depending on their income, gender, and age.
About half of U.S. adults who are working remotely have very strong feelings of comfort or discomfort toward returning to the office before a vaccine is available, but it is interestingly split with 26% being very comfortable and 25% being very uncomfortable. Overall though, slightly more remote workers report being uncomfortable (46%) with returning to the workplace pre-vaccine than comfortable (44%).
U.S. adults with low annual incomes, $50k or less, are the most likely to be very uncomfortable returning to the office before a COVID-19 vaccine is available. Those with high incomes, $150k+, are the most likely to be very comfortable.
Additionally, men are 20% more likely than women to prefer returning to in-person work whereas women are most likely to prefer staying remote. It is notable to add that both men and women value some combination of returning to the office and staying remote.
Younger adults ages 18 – 24 are the most likely to prefer returning to the office, with 42% responding that they would prefer returning rather than staying remote or even having a combination of both options. However, with 32% preferring to return to the office, adults ages 55+ are also more likely to prefer returning to the office compared to those ages 25 – 54.
It is unsurprising that people who would most prefer returning to the office are those who feel an office setting is very important for collaboration and innovation, two key attributes for successful work. Only 11% of people who feel that an office setting is not at all important would prefer to return to the office.
Almost half of U.S. adults working remotely say they have been just as productive working remotely as in the office, but this seems to differ depending on the breakdown of people.
Although 48% of U.S. adults working remotely during the pandemic say they have been just as productive as usual, 44% of 18 – 24 year olds report being significantly less productive than usual. Interestingly, this age group is both the most likely to report being both less productive and the most likely to report being more productive. Those aged 25 – 34 come in a close second though with 40% reporting being less productive and 20% more productive.
Since changing to remote work, women report being more productive — 30% more than men. This is consistent with the earlier observations of men being more likely than women to prefer returning to the office, as a change in productivity could influence these preferences.
It seems that all U.S. adults (remote or not) are divided on their opinions about the economy returning to pre-COVID-19 levels. Forty-two percent responded that they believe this is possible if companies continue to work remotely, but a close 35% and 22% responded “no” and “I’m not sure”, respectively.
A surprising 42% of both men and women responded “yes”, they believe America’s economy can return to pre-COVID-19 levels if companies continue to work remotely. However, women were significantly less confident and responded “I’m not sure” about 35% more than males.
As states and localities continue to pivot regulations for public safety, CivicScience will continue to monitor Americans’ sentiment and daily behavior.