Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey recently showed that most employees are begging for a future filled with remote work – but that probably isn’t news to you, as you’ve been one of the voices in that chorus since your company began considering their reopening plans. Almost 75% of all American workers (and 83% of those already working remotely) say that employers should allow employees to keep remotely working, and to expand those opportunities even when the pandemic ends. If they aren’t given the option to work remotely at all, 42% of employees say they’ll go look for another job.
But employees and management might not have the same ideas about the future of remote work. Staffing and talent firm Robert Half’s Hybrid Work Survey recently took the pulse on what management thinks of returning to the office, and the results would make any remote worker grimace. Of the 3,000 managers interviewed, 72% hope that their small companies containing 20-499 people will be fully back in the office by the end of the pandemic with no chance of working from home. For the most part, they’re relying on administrative roles to be back in the office working a traditional nine to five, which includes all sorts of lower-level roles like receptionists and custodians. But many workers in those roles aren’t eager to return to the office, which could require companies to turn to customer service outsourcing or hiring other contract workers.
If you’re panicking about giving up a life of calls in your pajamas and at-home workouts on your lunch break, don’t get ahead of yourself. Interestingly, varying opinions on remote work vary along geographic lines, and managers in different locales have different opinions about extending remote work options. Sometimes, these are tech-forward cities with extensive commutes or expensive housing. Other times, managers who are the most willing to accept remote work as the way of the future can be found in surprising places.
The city where 45% of managers polled are gung-ho about a completely remote future is Boston, which leads the list by seven whole percentage points. As mentioned, the commute might be an enormous reason that managers are more understanding about working from home, as Boston ranked as the country’s most congested city in both 2018 and 2019. It follows that if your manager lives in midtown Manhattan and you live in Queens, they’ll probably be less understanding about a lengthy commute. But if you and your manager are both stuck in traffic on I-93 for an hour every morning, neither of you is going to want to come to work.
If potential job opportunities have you hesitant about buying your one-way ticket to Beantown, don’t worry – you won’t be unemployed for long. The other major feature of Boston’s remote work landscape are the companies that provide that option. Boston’s thriving business scene contains the headquarters of huge companies like General Electric, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Raytheon, and Boston Scientific. Unless you’re applying for specialized roles where sensitive data is at stake, you’ll be sure to find a cushy position in a company so enormously powerful that they could care less where you’re working from.
2. San Francisco – 38%
The runner-up on this survey is trendy San Francisco, full of expensive real estate and delicious bread bowls. While some say that San Francisco is experiencing a “tech exodus,” a whopping 38% of managers are willing to fully embrace the world of remote work for the foreseeable future.
The numbers taken by sf.citi’s poll on the “tech exodus” show that though tech companies might be concerned about scaling up in pricey San Francisco, most of their work can be done without an office. Of the firms surveyed, 55% expect at least a quarter of their workforce to work from home forever, and 40% expect all of their Bay-area staff to be permanently remote. While companies might be giving up office space, they’re certainly not giving up on growth, allowing for new hires to come from all backgrounds, locales and experience levels.
3. Philadelphia – 37%
The third-ranked on this list is the city of brotherly love: Cheesesteak-filled Philly. Home to dozens of Fortune 500 companies like Comcast, Dupont, Campbell’s Soups, and AmerisourceBergen, pharmaceutical distribution and healthcare technology firms, over 37% of managers in Philadelphia are embracing a future of entirely remote work. Some are comparing Philly to Detroit in that both cities have undergone a recent facelift thanks to the throngs of young adults looking for the big-city experience without the big-city prices. But long-time residents of Philadelphia will tell you that it’s always been a contemporary place to begin building a life.
Philly has more than hallowed old corporations on hallowed old cobblestone streets. There’s actually a blossoming startup culture in Philadelphia, where TEDxPhiladelphia speakers and venture capitalists flock to investigate the latest and greatest trends. And of course, with young companies and hard workers comes a certain understanding about permanent remote work.
Should I stay or should I go?
Of the remaining cities in the top 15 most hybrid-friendly, many expect employees to come back into the office full-time when the pandemic is over, but are making special hybrid or fully remote accommodations during COVID. In Dallas and Pittsburgh, 35% of managers are willing to allow employees to remotely work until the pandemic ends. In Chicago, Minneapolis, and Raleigh, NC, that number drops to 34% of managers.
In cities where you’d expect the most remote work to take place, like Los Angeles, Washington D.C. or New York, 30% of management is interested in returning to work, so you should be expecting to either go back to the office part-time or full-time, depending on your role and the industry you’re in. As much of LA and New York is about the creation of media and D.C. is all about politics, oftentimes, those careers can have necessary in-person elements. But if you’re just an office worker, especially one in a larger company with understanding and empathetic leadership, chances are that you’ll have a flexible schedule in the future.
If you’re wondering whether or not you should jet off to another city to sustain your remote lifestyle, just look to the data for guidance. Mostly, remote-accepting managers are prevalent in the fields of finance, technology, and marketing, and though many expect administrative staff to go back into this office, that’s primarily the case for companies under 1,000 people. The larger a company is, the more likely they are to condone permanent work from home. If they’re small and less technologically savvy, however, you might have to put some gas in the tank, take your blazers to the dry-cleaner, and get ready for the long journey back to work (when the pandemic restrictions are lifted, of course).