Despite the Rise of Remote Work, 9 in 10 People Think The Office Still Reigns

woman working from home and two coworkers working together in an office.

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Fairygodboss
April 23, 2024 at 7:11AM UTC

Back to the office, not back to the office, fully remote, hybrid with three days a week in office, hybrid with two days a month in office…despite two years since the pandemic began, how and where we work is still widely varied.

So who’s actually working remotely full time, and is anyone actually back in the office five days a week? 

More than 4.7 million people in the United States work remotely at least half of the time. Overall, 16% of companies hire remote-only workers.

Closer to half of U.S. companies — 44% — do not offer any remote work. 

Looking ahead, about two-thirds of working adults think both office and remote work will coexist, according to an Axios Momentive poll. Upwork predicts that 22% of the workforce will work remotely by 2025.

Yet despite predictions that remote work is here to stay, an overwhelming 87% of people disagree that “the days of working in an office 5 days a week are officially over.” Instead, this vast majority thinks that full-time, in-person work isn’t going anywhere. 

About 1 in 5 adults believe most places will go back to how things were before COVID, with younger generations more strongly believing people will have to return to five in-person days a week compared to their older counterparts; 25% of people aged 18-34 believe pre-COVID office culture will return, while only 11% of people 65 or older agreed.

Even though remote work seems increasingly popular, the office still looms as a necessary part of work life and culture.

Some workers don’t have a choice but to go in-person, as 44% of companies don’t offer remote work, and less than a fifth hire remote-only roles. And before many COVID precautions like vaccines, masking, testing and social distances, most offices didn’t have a choice but to close their doors. Now, with added safety precautions, employers can now find ways to keep offices open despite virus surges — which makes it easier to maintain a hybrid or in-person schedule in the long term.

And while the praises of remote work have been sung loudly these last two years, there are obviously still benefits to the office, too — people feeling more connected to their colleagues, finding mentorship or networking opportunities, or even minimizing virtual meeting and communication fatigue. Employees don’t need five days in the office to reap these benefits, but without any in-person meeting space at all, they may feel like they’re missing out. 

The data shows that most people like working in an office, at least some of the time: in a Slack study, 72% of people said they preferred a hybrid model; only 12% preferred full-time in office, and 13% preferred full-time work from home. 

So while remote work has undoubtedly become a much more popular part of modern work culture since 2020, fully remote options aren’t as popular as we may think they are. But it’s not like there are mass pleas to return full-time to the way things were, either. Instead, the majority of modern companies are striving to find and perfect the best of both worlds. Let’s hope they can deliver what employees are looking for.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

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