TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The biggest effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was the shift to remote work across multiple major industries. The need for separation, isolation and distance as the coronavirus swept through the United States led to a radical shift in office work.
Some benefits of remote work during the pandemic came from the lack of drivers on the road. Florida, as a state, found that with fewer drivers out, they were able to complete construction on Dept. of Transportation projects faster.
Additionally, the whole world saw clearer skies and cleaner air due to the lessened exhaust from cars on the road. Reporting by the Associated Press found the world cut its carbon emissions down by 7% in the first year of COVID-19.
A newly released Gallup poll asked Americans how they feel about remote work or hybrid work going forward. Of those surveyed, almost 60% of workers prefer to work partly in the office and partly at home. Almost one third of those surveyed preferred to work remotely exclusively. Only 9% wanted to work just at the office.
COVID-19 changed a lot for workers. The shift to remote or hybrid work options helped Americans with more flexible scheduling, child care needs for young children and took out many long commutes due to traffic reductions.
The Gallup poll found the top five reasons people prefer hybrid work, according to their survey respondents.
- To avoid commute time
- It is better for my wellbeing overall
- I need flexibility to balance family needs or other obligations
- The option to work in-person with coworkers
- I feel more productive and connected to my organization
The Gallup poll said it looks like hybrid or remote work are here to stay, but it may also address a newer problem in the post-COVID world: record-high gas prices.
Inflation is continuing a surge that started nearly a year ago, and has hit a 40-year high at 7.9% nationally. Costs on everything from groceries to gasoline have pushed the Consumer Price Index to new highs, going on 11 months in a row. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said a third of that cost increase is just from the price of gasoline.
Cost of travel and long commutes put hybrid or remote work into place as a potential solution for the pain at the pump most Americans are facing. Dr. Douglas Kiel, a professor at University of Texas, Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, said it provides an opportunity to cut prices down by reducing demand.
“This is a real opportunity for all of us to chip in and be good citizens. If managers will allow people to work from home, we can lower demand for gas, therefore reducing the price and help our fellow citizens who really need to use their car,” Kiel told NBC affiliate KXAS.
Under the hybrid model, workers could only be in the office two or three days per week. It’s something 40% of the Gallup respondents wanted. Still, some workers wanted to spend more time in the office, others less. The bigger divide between hybrid and in-person or remote work is not so much how often you go to the office, but who decides.
Of the respondents in the Gallup poll, four out of 10 wanted to be able to pick completely on their own, as far as how many days to be on-site and when. The other 60% said they’d prefer a coordinated effort to pick remote schedules as a team, but could not “agree on ‘how’ to coordinate” that level of planning.
“There is a large body of evidence that shows that commuting is not good for people,” Kiel told KXAS. “It simply does not make us happy.”