As states begin to reopen, many workers are hesitating as their workplaces unlock their doors. About one-third of employees—35% recently surveyed—say they prefer to continue working from home permanently, according to a new survey conducted in late May by CreditCards.com.
Workers showed a preference for working from home even though they say it is costing them more. Remote workers surveyed say their regular expenses have increased by $108, reflecting an increase in groceries and utilities, even if they are saving on child care, gas or public transportation, and clothing and dry cleaning costs. Millennials found it even more costly—an increase of $208 above their regular monthly expenses.
“Surprisingly, average expenses have gone up for people working from home, but it’s a trade-off most are happy with,” says Ted Rossman, an industry analyst with CreditCards.com. “Most workers seem content to skip the commute and potentially work in their pajamas, even if it means spending more on food and utilities.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic first struck the U.S., about one-third of employed U.S. adults were estimated to have been able to work from home.
While 35% of survey respondents said they want to work from home permanently, according to the survey, the majority are in favor of a hybrid office and home setup. Eighty-two percent of employees said they would like to work from home at least two days per week (that includes respondents who mostly said they would like to work from home full-time). Twenty-one percent of respondents said they would like to work from home four days or more per week, and only 7% of respondents said they wanted to work from home just one day per week.
The commercial sector is working to predict what trends will surface in office space needs post-pandemic. Leasing and investment sales activity reportedly is gradually coming back in some areas as states reopen. Robert Cleary, senior vice president specializing in the office sector with Colliers International, told the National Real Estate Investor that he believes suburban office markets will see a pickup in activity. Satellite offices likely will grow in demand as an alternative to trekking to urban locales.
Jonathan Stravutz with SDB-BIOC Commercial says he expects employees will switch between working from home and the office, at least in the interim. He believes that typically only 30% of office space will be occupied at a time, and the trend likely will continue until a vaccine for the coronavirus is found. He expects more sublet space to come onto the market. But real estate pros also report some office tenants are leveraging an advantage in negotiating deals to still scoop up space in prime urban spots during the pandemic.
“Most occupiers are evaluating their current and future space needs to support both an increasingly remote workforce and less office density for health and safety reasons,” Dennis Hearst, senior vice president in the advisory and transactions services group with CBRE, told the National Real Estate Investor. He remains optimistic. “The unmatched value of a dedicated space for commercial innovation and professional collaboration will endure, even if some long-term design changes occur,” he adds.