As Wall Street firms order employees back to the office, the option of working from home remains more popular than ever all over the world, a new study showed.
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have eased vaccination, testing and mask rules, and reopened their offices full-time. Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Jefferies Financial Group Inc are among US financial giants leading an aggressive push back to in-person work.
The problem is that workers do not want to come back — and that is true across countries and industries, according to a research paper published on Wednesday by an international team of economists, including Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom, who have been gathering data on remote work since the early days of the pandemic.
Workers say they are more productive at home, would quit their jobs or look elsewhere if they are forced back, and would take pay cuts to maintain the remote option, the study found.
It is based on surveys conducted in the middle of last year and early this year of people in 27 countries, skewing toward higher-income employees.
The shift to remote work “benefits workers,” the researchers wrote.
“The reason is simple: Most workers value the opportunity to WFH [work from home] part of the week, and some value it a lot,” they added.
On average, people surveyed by the research team work about 1.5 days from home each week.
Employees in countries where commutes are typically longer tend to place more value on time working from home. In India and China, for example, commute times average more than 90 minutes, about double the length for US workers.
Workers said they would take a pay cut of 5 percent on average to keep working from home.
Women — who are more likely to be primary caregivers for children or other family members — value the remote option more than men, the study found.
In many countries, workers want to work from home more often than they are doing now. Respondents in Brazil and Singapore said they want to work the most days remotely, while in some nations, such as India, they want to spend more time in the office.
About one-third of US workers would quit or start looking for another job if told to return to the workplace five days a week, higher than the global average.
The rate was highest in the UK.
Workers do not feel they are any less productive when working from home, the study said, underscoring earlier research by academics including Bloom.
The new paper by the WFH Research team is based on online polling that likely skews toward well-educated and higher-income workers, who have better access to technology and more time to answer surveys, the authors said.
For example, about 90 percent of their respondents in China said they have college degrees, while only about one-quarter of the overall population does.
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