Main image of article Employers' Vision for Remote Work May Clash with Technologists' Desires

As companies figure out the best ways to bring employees back to the office (despite worries over a surging Delta variant), debate over remote and hybrid work (i.e., a few days per week in the office, the rest spent working from home) is perhaps inevitable. How often do employers want their workers in the office, and does that conflict with workers’ desires? 

According to a July paper by researchers Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis, roughly 40 percent of those Americans “who currently work from home at least one day a week” would leave their current employment if their bosses made them return to the office full-time. Meanwhile, companies are planning on employees working from home an average of 1.2 days per week once the pandemic subsides. 

“Our survey-based evidence also suggests that high rates of quits and job openings in recent months partly reflect a re-sorting of workers with respect to a newly salient job attribute—namely, the scope for remote work,” the paper added. The researchers drew their data from the June Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA), which queries 50,000 working-age Americans.  

“Some employers are willing and able to accommodate those desires [for remote work], and some are not,” the paper continued. “As a result, many workers are re-sorting across employers and into jobs that better suit their preferences over working arrangements. As that process plays out, it will push up quit rates. It will also drive high job opening rates, as employers contend with the need for a higher-than-normal pace of replacement hires.”

According to Dice’s 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report, a majority of technologists want to work remotely 2-4 days per week. On top of that, roughly a quarter (26 percent) are under the impression that they’ll be able to work remotely full-time once COVID-19 restrictions permanently lift. 

While many technologists like the idea of hybrid work, only 13 percent want to work remotely one day per week; around 22 percent would prefer two days per week, 24 percent want three days, and 12 percent opt for four days. For managers, having a team on a hybrid schedule can insert additional complexity into scheduling and meetings—but many companies, aware of how a hybrid schedule can boost morale, will try to make it work. 

Meanwhile, employers that insist on keeping technologists to a single remote-work day per week may face some turnover, if the data from these researchers’ paper proves correct. With tech-industry unemployment at 1.5 percent, the lowest rate in two years, technologists have options when it comes to where (and how) they want to work.