SAN JOSE, Calif. - New research out Monday suggests roughly 40 percent of Americans are working from home full-time due to the pandemic and hardly any at-home workers have returned to their normal workplace.
Experts said the U.S. is evolving into a working from home economy, seen as both critical in the fight against COVID-19 but concerning given issues with inequality.
With the pandemic not slowing down, remote work is becoming increasingly a permanent part of the labor landscape.
“It’s a blessing in disguise because it allows a lot of people to stay away from the pandemic,” said Arman Patel of San Jose.
“I love working from home,” said Valentino Loyola of San Jose. “I say I wouldn't like it if I didn't have the option to get out of the house and stretch my legs.”
According to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is working full-time from home. A little more than half that, 26 percent is working at their business mostly essential services.
A Yahoo Finance – Harris Poll found 40 percent of those surveyed are working at home 100 percent of the time. Only four percent of people working from home have returned to the office.
“This is the most practical way given the technological advances that have taken place and the fact that people are now able to work from home,” said Sumita Raghuram of SJSU School of Business.
Raghuram said the stigma associated with working from home prior to COVID has gone away. Monday’s research also found higher paid and more educated employees are likely to work from home in white collar jobs that don't require physical contact with customers.
“Our economy is moving,” said Raghuram. “It is more knowledge-based economy and it’s the knowledge-based workers who have jobs where they are essentially working on computers.”
Experts said another impact is the growth of city centers could stall. The loss of worker’s physical presence means loss of daily spending at bars and restaurants.
Ike’s Sandwiches in downtown San Jose has seen that firsthand with online orders now sustaining their business.
A Stanford economist predicts because of COVID, instead of high rises more industrial parks with low-rise buildings may be built so people won't need to squeeze into elevator