In 2019, Americans spent an average of 55.2 minutes per day commuting. During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote workers have completely eliminated morning commutes which is like a 10% raise (or higher if you are like 10% of Americans that commute two hours per day). The monetary value of saved commuting time would be equivalent to the largest tax cuts for the middle class ever.
- 45% of jobs can be done remotely although this might increase inequality of remote work
- Two-thirds of remote workers want to continue to work remotely
- Remote work resulted in a 30% increase in hours worked and 20% decrease in productivity
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While just 5% of the workforce in the US worked from home prior to the pandemic, 20% are expected to work from home permanently.
While not having to commute is equivalent pay raise, it’s not necessarily better for the environment.
We can come up with a valuation of remote work by looking at a few signals: what you would forgo, what do you gain, what others gain, and what others lose.
A survey by Breeze, an insurance company, found that 65% of people would take a 5% pay cut, 38% would take a 10% pay cut, 24% would take a 15% pay cut, 18% would take a 20% pay cut, and 15 % would take a 25% pay cut.
In a recent article in Business Insider, a leaked pay calculator and interviews found that some employees face pay cuts if they continue to work remotely. In one example, an employee based in Stamford, CT would face a 15% pay cut unless they worked from the NYC office (1 hour commute). Former San Francisco employees could face as much as a 25% pay cut.
A recent study found that workers in Manhattan are spending $12.4B less than last year on meals, shopping, and entertainment near their offices. The author says this is due to remote work as workers are spending 30% less days in the office. This impacts local businesses that cater to office workers but also city tax revenue.
While remote work is obviously better for reducing exposure to COVID-19 than going to the office, the rapid increase in Omicron cases shows that remote work has little impact on reducing Omicron case counts. Anecdotally, several people I’ve worked with over the last two weeks have gotten it—all vaccinated and working from home.