Elon Musk has made it clear that he wants Twitter employees back in the office. And other prominent companies are pushing to end or modify the work-from-home policies that became a defining aspect of pandemic life, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.
But the reality is that many workers are still going about their day from the comfort of their abodes.
A new study from the financial site LendingTree found that the percentage of Americans working from home has essentially stayed steady in the past year — from 29.5% in October 2021 to 29.1% in October 2022. Technically, it’s a decline of 1.2%, which LendingTree described as “miniscule.”
And when it comes to one key group — employees between the ages of 25 to 39 — the number of those working from home is actually on the rise, from 38.8% to 40.5%. That equates to a 4.4% increase in the past year.
So what about all those reports indicating some companies are taking a harder line? LendingTree senior director of content Ismat Mangla said it’s hard to ignore the broader reality.
“It seems like many companies have decided to keep their work-from-home policies in place, or at least allow the option while transitioning to a companywide return to the office,” Mangla said.
““It seems like many companies have decided to keep their work-from-home policies in place.””
— LendingTree senior director of content Ismat Mangla
Mangla added that workers in the 25-to-39 age group are likely seeing their work-from-home numbers grow because of their station in life.
“I think this age group particularly benefits from work from home because they’re often just starting families and need that flexibility more than their younger or older counterparts,” she said.
There are some regional variations in LendingTree’s findings. In a handful of states, including Wyoming, West Virginia, Arkansas and Iowa, the number of those working from home saw a significant decline from 2021 to 2022 — in the case of Wyoming, for example, a nearly 40% decline.
What’s going on in Wyoming? LendingTree said it may reflect the fact that affordable states like Wyoming saw an uptick in workers relocating there during the pandemic, knowing they could take advantage of cheaper living costs while being fully able to do their jobs from a remote location.
But now, those same workers could be moving elsewhere — “particularly as concerns for COVID-19 fade and the U.S. returns to a relatively new normal,” LendingTree said. And when enough such employees leave, it means the percentages of those working from home will naturally see a dramatic decline.
However, it’s difficult to say that the LendingTree study, which was based on th U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data, reflects a permanent shift in terms of a sizable number of workers always doing their jobs home. Instead, it may just be speaking to the fact that some companies are maintaining their pandemic work-from-home policies a little while longer.
Consider: An October survey from job website ResumeBuilder.com, based on responses from 1,000 business leaders, found that 90% of companies will require employees to return to the office in 2023.