A third of Americans expect to keep working from home after the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out

We are getting a clearer picture of the future of work as the vaccine signals a massive shift in the pandemic fight.

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  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor
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More than a third of Americans (35%) say they expect to maintain the workplace flexibility they have grown accustomed to during the pandemic, according to new data from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker. The data comes as the first coronavirus vaccines roll out in the U.S., giving workers a clearer vision of their own futures. That breaks down to:

  • 15% of workers who say they will be able to work from home for a fixed amount of time after they’re allowed to go back to their office
  • 13% who say they’ll be able to split their time each week, going into the office some days and working from home on others
  • 7% who say they’ll be able to fully work from home until they are personally comfortable with returning

These workers join the 9% of people who already worked from home and intend to keep doing so. Another 19% of Americans say they will have to go back to work in-person as soon as it’s allowed, and 36% of Americans say they never stopped going to work during the pandemic.

work from home by incomeHigher income ($100,000+) workers, many of whom are in more white-collar profession are more likely to fit into the newly-flexible work from home scenarios.

  • 42% of people with children in their households fit into one of these situations, compared to only 31% of people without kids
  • Democrats are more likely than Republicans to fit into one of these situations – 42% of Democrats, compared to 29% of Republicans
  • Republicans are far more likely to have never stopped going to work in person – 44% say they never stopped going to work since the pandemic began, compared to 27% of Democrats

The new normal for work habits will likely change commutes, but the number of people who say they expect a shift has dropped since Ipsos began asking Americans earlier this year.

  • Over the summer, more than a third of Americans said they expected their commutes to change post-pandemic – ranging from 33% to 37% in surveys between July and September. That number has now fallen to just over a quarter – 26%.
  • People with children in their household are far more likely to say they expect their commute to change: 39% of people with children, compared to 18% of people without children.

commute changeThe most common way people expect their commute to change: Driving. The question for many is will the number cars on the road and miles travelled by people who are commuting less overall balance with the number who will actually drive to work more frequently?

  • 45% of Americans who say they expect their commute to change say they expect to drive more often
  • 22% expect to take public transportation more often, 11% expect to walk or bike more often
  • 23% expect to commute less in any form because they’ll be working from home

Taken together, these shifts paint a clearer picture than ever of the post-pandemic future and its potential to remake our cities and suburbs and the businesses that rely on the workplace populations. The range of industries impacted spans from commercial and residential real estate, to the investors in real estate including public pension funds, to quick serve and fine dining, to retail, to auto and ride-sharing to transportation infrastructure, to office supplies, to food and packaged goods and beyond.

The author(s)

  • Ben Meyerson Newsletter editor

Society