Growing concerns over rising interest rates and a recession are impacting American consumers’ confidence in the housing market and the broader U.S. economy. However, one area that appears to be maintaining resilience is confidence in the job market, as shown in recent CivicScience data

Americans are feeling more confident in the ability to find a new job, the highest percentage on the Penta-CivicScience Economic Sentiment Index seen since May.

Even though the labor market showed signs of cooling in August, with fewer jobs being added and a slowdown in wage growth, the general consensus is that it continues to remain strong and favorable to the employee, as reflected in consumer sentiment. “Flexibility” has been the buzz word when it comes to the COVID-era job landscape, but what does that actually mean? New survey data indicate that to the majority of Americans a “flexible” job is one that allows for greater autonomy, such as the ability to set your own schedule and take time off as needed.

The option to work remotely is also something that many Americans (52%) believe is key to a flexible work environment. Currently, data show that 18% of employed U.S. adults say they are working fully remotely and an additional 21% are working in a hybrid in-person/remote situation.

That said, certain practices implemented by employers to monitor remote workers could alter how likely workers are to pursue remote working jobs. These include using surveillance software to track employees’ key strokes, take screenshot captures, or even take periodic photos using webcams to ensure productivity. Unsurprisingly, the majority (52%) of survey respondents disagree with these practices. 

Findings from August show that remote workers continue to report overall lower job happiness than in-person workers, which is especially true for Gen Z remote employees, and higher rates of “quiet quitting” (i.e., pulling back on job responsibilities). Fully remote workers report the highest rates of feeling burned out on the job. Remote workers are also significantly less likely to take sick days when they are ill.

Monitoring practices may contribute to the lower level of job dissatisfaction found among remote workers. Currently, 18% of remote workers (whether fully or partially remote) say that their employer tracks them using monitoring technology, while an additional 32% are suspicious they are being tracked while working but can’t say for certain.

Remote employees who are not being monitored tend to report higher levels of job happiness. Those who report they are being monitored and who suspect that they might be are nearly twice as likely to say they are “very unhappy” in their current job.

So while heightened levels of autonomy and flexibility may be top of mind for many working and job-seeking Americans, remote monitoring practices have the potential to backfire on the appeal of remote jobs.