There’s plenty of speculation that an economic downturn could force more workers back to the office. But recent data suggests the remote work trend may have become permanently entrenched in the white-collar workforce. The percentage of paid full remote work days has stabilized at around 30 percent in the past year after falling from the 2020 high of 60 percent. That’s according to WFH Research, a definitive source of remote/hybrid work data led, in part, by Stanford Economics Professor Nick Bloom. In 2019 before the pandemic, only about 5 percent of paid working days in the U.S. were done remotely. WFH Research says the pandemic permanently increased remote work, equivalent to almost 40 years of pre-pandemic growth.
The data isn’t promising for the office market, though it shows 58 percent of employees are still full-time onsite and 29 percent are hybrid. Office owners may hope a downturn brings people back to the office, but they may not want to hold their breath. Remote work has helped many companies lower their burn and attract talent from all parts of the globe. If companies can keep employees happy with remote work and save a bit of money, remote work may remain even during a recession.