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Nearly Half of Workers Are 'Definitely Looking' to Work Remotely

A woman in a green sweater is looking at a computer screen.

​Many employees plan to pursue remote-work opportunities in the future, according to new findings by SHRM Research.

Forty-eight percent of about 1,700 surveyed workers in the U.S. said they will "definitely" seek a remote position for their next job, the research showed. Employees would consider pursuing or remaining in an onsite role for an annual raise of:

  • 20 percent with a 30-minute commute.
  • 15 percent with a 15-minute commute.
  • 10 percent for a hybrid job with a 30-minute commute.

"Our research shows that there is still a lot of demand for remote positions from job seekers, which could even increase in the future," said Mark Smith, Ph.D., SHRM's director of HR thought leadership. "Close to a quarter of respondents currently working in an onsite position say that they definitely want a remote role in the future."

However, many companies are mandating that remote employees return to the office. About half of business leaders said their company already requires or is planning to require employees to return to in-person work full time in the next year, according to a Microsoft survey of more than 31,100 workers.

The SHRM research suggests that workers disagree with return-to-office requirements without sufficient reason from the employer: 63 percent of respondents said that being required to work from an office makes no sense when work can be completed remotely.

Additionally, 53 percent of workers said leaders who mandate returning to the office after their employees worked well remotely are "stuck in the past."

"These results indicate that companies need to use clear justification when calling employees back onsite," Smith said. "Without it, most agree that a return to the office is not a good idea."

Perceptions of Remote Work

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, employers and workers have seen that remote employees can be as productive and hardworking as their onsite counterparts. However, many onsite workers do not believe this to be the case.

In-person workers are five to seven times more likely to believe that remote employees are less productive and work fewer hours than they do, the SHRM survey showed.

"These large differences show that many individuals seem to be falling into a 'slackers versus suckers' distinction," Smith explained. "Remote workers think that onsite workers are suckers for having to spend more time and effort on commutes and other onsite issues. On the other hand, onsite workers think that remote workers are slackers who don't work hard or produce much."

The research also indicates that remote workers are not missing out on key aspects of the work experience any more than onsite employees. In fact, onsite workers report more problems than remote workers in some areas.

For example, more in-person workers (27 percent) feel excluded from opportunities at work than remote workers (20 percent), and more onsite workers (30 percent) feel passed over for promotions than remote workers (24 percent).

The two groups reported equal feelings of being unable to form work relationships.

"Across the board, we're seeing remote work to be relatively equivalent to onsite work when it comes to worker perceptions and experiences," said SHRM researcher Katie Merlini, Ph.D. "Ultimately, this is a good-news story for organizational leaders, who may have feared remote work would come at a cost of perceived fairness or culture, and for employees, who want the benefits that come with remote opportunities without potential drawbacks to their careers."

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Remote Work

Why Are Workers Looking for Remote Positions?

Recent research shows that many workers value the perceived benefits of remote work. For example, SHRM's 2022 State of the Workplace survey found that:

  • Remote organizations allow for greater work flexibility.
  • Remote workers report much higher levels of positive feelings toward their companies.
  • Labor shortages are less of an issue for remote organizations.

"Our research findings illustrate some of the benefits of remote jobs from the perspective of the organization," Smith said. "Based on these results, we hope that this will compel companies to at least consider making more jobs remote or hybrid opportunities."

Amy Freshman, senior director of global HR for the management services company ADP, said many employers and employees prefer remote work because it can lead to reduced stress, improved employee recruitment and retention, and more job opportunities for employees.

"Given the juggle that many employees have in their day-to-day lives with families, aging parents and health concerns, including mental wellness, the need for more flexibility and some form of remote work has become a must-have, not a perk," she said.


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