Gallup: Half of US Employees Work From Home, Many Want to Stay Remote

Gallup: Half of US Employees Work From Home, Many Want to Stay Remote woman works on laptop in living room (Dreamstime)

By Fran Beyer | Monday, 17 May 2021 12:31 PM

Most American employees have been working at home during the pandemic — but the numbers vary widely depending on what kind of job is involved, a Gallup poll found.

In a survey of 7,272 adults during the six-month period from October 2020 to April 2021, an average 52% of all workers did either all or part of their job at home, including 72% of those in white-collar occupations and 14% in blue-collar occupations.

Four in 10 white-collar workers are fine with staying remote, the poll found.

"Occupations consisting mainly of people who perform their jobs behind desks have experienced the remote-work revolution most intensely in the past year," Gallup pollsters Lydia Saad and Jeffrey M. Jones wrote.

"More than seven in 10 workers in such ‘white collar’ jobs have been working from home all or part of the time, in contrast with fewer than two in 10 blue-collar workers."

A breakdown of the six-month stretch found at least eight in 10 workers in four occupation categories working remotely — some of them exclusively — with 86% in computer-oriented or math fields; 86% in the life and physical or social sciences; 81% in the arts, design, entertainment, or media; and 80% in the financial services, insurance, real estate, or consulting areas.

But, the poll showed, there was a steep drop to 36% of those working remotely in sales and 33% in healthcare. The rate falls further to relatively small percentages in manual labor or service-oriented fields: 16% in construction or mining; 15% in installation, maintenance, or repair; 14% in transportation; 9% of service workers; and 8% in manufacturing or production.

Gallup also found 35% of all full-time employees say that, if given the choice, they’d keep working remotely as much as possible compared with 17% would’d opt to go back to the office.

The poll found in the six-month period, there was almost no difference by gender in white-collar employees' preferences for returning to work: 41% of men and 39% of women say they’d continue remote work at home as much as they could.

Among blue-collar, education, healthcare and sales workers, women were more likely than men to want to maintain their remote status, the poll found.

"As leaders make important decisions about what happens next, the data suggest that hybrid approaches will be the much safer bet for companies hoping to retain and attract employees in fields where 70% or more of their workers have grown accustomed to working from home, and where a third or more are reluctant to give that up," the Gallup pollsters wrote.

The margin of error for the entire sample is plus or minus two percentage points.