Most Remote Workers Would Quit Rather Than Go Back to the Office

Work-life balance, cost savings and online collaboration have employees hooked on working from home.

After a year of working remotely, 58 percent of employees would “absolutely” look for a new job if required to go back to the office. An additional 31 percent aren’t sure what they would do, according to a new survey by FlexJobs, an employment site for virtual workers. Only 2 percent of the 2,181 respondents, all of whom worked from home during the pandemic, want to return to the office full-time.

Nearly two-thirds would prefer to work only remotely post-pandemic, and one-third would like a combination of remote and in-office work (hybrid work arrangement). Half of workers are worried about Covid-19 exposure if they return to an office environment, but nearly as many are concerned about having less work flexibility (46 percent) and less work-life balance (43 percent).

Productivity Has Increased

Fifty-five percent say their productivity actually has increased while working remotely, while one-third say it has stayed the same. Only 6 percent find they are less productive when working from home.

Most remote workers prefer not to hear from their supervisors more than a few times per week. Twenty-two percent like their bosses to check in “as little as possible.”

Staying Home Saves Time and Money

The greatest benefit to working from home, cited by 84 percent of respondents, is not having to commute. Cost savings is a close second (75 percent). In fact, 38 percent of respondents estimate they’re saving $5,000 a year by working remotely (and eliminating costs for restaurant lunches, gas, dry cleaning, etc.). One in five are saving more than $200/week — at least $10,400 per year.

Thirty-seven percent would definitely consider relocating if they had permanent remote work.

Video Meetings Are Generally OK

Half of remote workers like video meetings via Zoom and other platforms, while 14 percent dislike them and the remainder are neutral. What irks respondents most are technical or software issues (frozen screens, poor internet connection, problems joining), cited as pain points by 58 percent. Other prevalent gripes were too many meetings/video fatigue (28 percent), the difficulty of reading nonverbal cues (28 percent), background distractions (26 percent), and the awkwardness of making small talk (22 percent).

Among positives about meeting virtually, 3 out of 4 respondents said they appreciate not needing to travel, followed by the option of wearing comfortable clothing (58 percent) and the ability to mute (55 percent). Other common benefits cited were more flexible scheduling, the ability to share screens, improved efficiency, fewer office politics and the ability to record meetings. Only 12 percent find virtual meetings more engaging than in-person events.