Work remote after COVID? Nearly 50% of US workers would take a pay cut for it, survey says.

Nearly 50% of workers in the U.S. say they would take up to a 5% pay cut to continue to work remotely at least part-time post-pandemic, according to a new survey.

About 25% surveyed also say they would quit their jobs if they couldn’t work remotely, and about 70% say they’ve found attending virtual meetings far less stressful than being in an office alongside their colleagues.

Those are just some of the intriguing findings in a poll of more than 2,000 full-time workers in the fifth annual State of Remote Work conducted by Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics and shared exclusively with USA TODAY.

The survey comes as nearly 1 in 4 Americans working in a remote or hybrid setting continue to do their jobs amidst COVID-19 and during what experts cite as a “great resignation” cycle. In August, a record 4.3 million U.S. workers quit their jobs (compared to 10.4 million job openings, often at higher pay), the Labor Department reported, many for COVID-19-related reasons, including the ability to not work at the office.

The mass job openings are currently giving workers an advantage who are now looking for significant compensation, health care benefits and great technology to work both in and out of the office, said Frank Weishaupt, Owl Labs CEO.

“The data is very clear from this perspective that worker flexibility is here to stay and companies need to start thinking with a remote-first mentality,” Weishaupt said. “Going forward, it will almost always be the case that at least one person will be in your meeting on a screen.”

Of those surveyed who mainly worked from home during the pandemic, 73% have returned to the office for at least one day a week, with 25% of those workers returning since September, Weishaupt said.

The survey also showed more than half say they prefer to work from home full-time, and 91% say they are at the same productivity level – or higher – compared to working in the office.

And, 74% say working from home would make them happier post-pandemic as a quarter of those surveyed say they will quit their jobs if they can’t work remotely (with Gen Z representing the largest age group).

Of those surveyed who changed jobs during the pandemic or were seeking new opportunities, 90% say they want a better career. About 88% want a better work-life balance and 87% want lower stress. About 84% of workers say they want more flexibility in where they work, and 82% want more flexibility in when they work.

Also, 64% of workers who worked from home say their top preferred meeting preference is a hybrid video conference call.

“It’s the technology that’s saved us during the pandemic,” said Kate Lister, the president of Global Workplace Analytics. “We now see that workers can be just as productive in a hybrid environment compared to the perception that they wouldn’t be in an office.”

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