Remote work: A nationwide survey challenges WFH perceptions

Not everyone is going to love the next few weeks at home, it turns out.

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The future of work is remote. Or is it? 

To determine how valuable the option to work remotely is to job applicants, a company called GetResponse surveyed 2,500 people nationwide on the importance of being able to work remotely. Then they used a scale of 1-10 to rank Americans' opinions on remote work. 

Interestingly, and out of line with assumptions, not everyone is as thrilled at the prospect working from home as commonly believed. That puts current WFH restrictions due to Covid-19 precautions in a new light, and potentially points to what may be rising work tensions if the remote work mandates persist beyond a couple weeks, which seems likely.

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Counterintuitively, while the majority of respondents did rank working remotely favorably, more millennials ranked the option to work remotely as a detraction than older generations. Given that millennials came of age during the internet revolution and are the first internet-native generation, that's especially surprising. On the whole, Baby Boomers were the most likely generation to say they don't worry about working remotely at all, seeing it as neither a detraction or a benefit.

Gen X, by contrast, was the most likely generation to say they won't take a job unless the option of working remotely is available. 

Respondent preferences seemed to trend along geographical location. Perhaps predictably, the the states that averaged the highest WFH preference tended to be associated with colder weather, which can make commutes ghastly. Vermont topped the list, followed by Alaska and New Hampshire. 

Those states that ranked working remotely lowest include New Jersey, Louisiana, and Tennessee, reporting that it does not improve their work experience. Most states averaged right around the middle of the road for how highly they rank working from home as a perk.

Gender also played a significant role in responses. Over half of female respondents reported they think remote work is a great perk or is vital to accepting a job. Meanwhile, more than 15% of men reported they think the option to work remotely is a detraction from a job option. Over 50% of men report that they don't worry about whether or not they can work remotely at all. (This male reporter, for the record, enjoys his pajama bottom Fridays!)

A survey of 2,500 provides a small sample size for a big issue, so results should be taken with a grain of salt. What's clear, though, is there's less of a monolithic acceptance of working from home as may be assumed, and savvy employers would be wise to treat broad WFH mandates with sensitivity.

Of particular important to those employees who may value an office culture is transparency about expectations, including how long WFH orders may stay in effect.