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Is remote work here to stay? Here’s what Americans think in a new poll

The poll found the percentage of Americans who say they are working from home has held steady for months.
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A Gallup poll found many Americans are still working from home and that the vast majority of remote workers expect to continue doing so for the rest of this year and longer. (Getty Images)

Many people in the United States don’t expect to return to in-person work any time soon. 

A Gallup poll of 4,034 adults conducted Sept. 13-19 found many full-time workers in the country are still working remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Of those, most expect to continue doing so for the rest of 2022 and longer. Additionally, an earlier poll from Gallup found the vast majority of remote workers want to continue working from home for several reasons. 

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The findings come as Gallup says “pre-pandemic normalcy remains elusive” and as many U.S. workers have become used to working from home after many companies transitioned to remote work in early 2020 as the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S.

Many Americans still working remotely 

Forty-five percent of full-time workers in the September survey said they were working from home — including 25% who said they are exclusively working from home and 20% who said they are doing so some of the time.

That percentage is essentially unchanged from July, when 43% said they were working from home, and from May, when 46% said the same — which Gallup said suggests plans to return to offices are on hold in the U.S. 

The steady percentage came as the country was grappling with a surge in new COVID-19 cases sparked by the highly contagious delta variant. The country hasn’t seen widespread coronavirus-related restrictions and closures like those in 2020, but face mask mandates and other restrictions have been reinstated in some areas. 

Now, new coronavirus cases have started to decline. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has said it’s too early to “declare victory” as numbers could bounce back, which he told CNN won’t happen if “we do what we should be doing — namely, particularly getting more people vaccinated.” 

The 45% of respondents who said they are working remotely is down from 53% in January, when COVID-19 vaccines were just becoming available to the public and down from 69% in early 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic. 

Will remote work continue?

The poll found that about 75% of remote workers surveyed said their employers will allow them to continue working from home at least “on some basis.” 

Even more workers said they expect to continue working remotely for “the rest of the year and beyond.” 

Among all remote workers surveyed, 27% said they anticipate working fully remote, 61% said they anticipate a hybrid schedule between remote and in-person work, and 9% said they don’t expect to work remotely. 

The high percentage of people who expect remote work to continue is likely welcome news to many workers. 

A separate Gallup poll conducted in May and June found 91% of people who were working from home hoped to continue doing so after the pandemic for a variety of reasons.

Of those who said they preferred to work fully remote, 52% said the reason was to avoid commuting, 44% said it was better for their well-being, 37% said it was because they need “flexibility to balance family/other obligations,” 35% said they were more productive, and 29% said it was to “have fewer distractions.” 

Fifty-four percent of workers said they didn’t think it would affect their company’s culture if a “substantial number” of employees worked remotely long-term, Gallup found. Additionally, 31% of workers said that losing the option to work remotely would make them “extremely likely to look for employment with another organization.” 

The May-June Gallup survey included 9,915 adults who work full-time or part-time and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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