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Survey: Over 63% of Americans Working From Home Face Hurdles

Ruth Shin

Ruth Shin

Now that working from home is the norm, PropertyNest took a look at possible drawbacks workers might face. Find out what people found to be the biggest negative and what they could mean for the future of real estate and homes across the country.
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Over the past 13 months, a huge portion of the American workforce has been made to work from home as the nation faced quarantine measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working from home is not a new concept. However, remote work reached an unprecedented scale due to the pandemic. What was new was that many occupations that would normally report to an office or workplace were also relegated to their homes. Examples of this were receptionists, customer service reps, educators or tutors, and some healthcare professionals.

Many Americans welcomed the new prospect of working from home and some experts say that this might be a permanent option in the workforce, even once the pandemic has subsided. However, there has definitely not only been a learning curve when it comes to technical issues such as using virtual meeting apps but also logistical and work-life balance issues that come from working at home

PropertyNest wanted to find out which factor people found most problematic when working from home.

Survey Highlights

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PropertyNest asked:

"If you worked from home in the past 13 months, which of the following would you say is the biggest drawback?"

  • 63.4% of all respondents felt there was at least some disadvantage to working from home. The largest response was "No drawbacks" at 30.9% of respondents. Seniors (ages 65 and older) who were working from home made up a quarter of those respondents who felt working for home had no drawbacks.
  • Over 20% of respondents didn't like that working from home kept them indoors and away from people more often. This was the second most popular response. "Distractions at home" was a close third at 18.6%. Both men and women were split about evenly on the top three responses.
  • Nearly 10% of respondents were frustrated with their internet connection. At 67.6% of those respondents, women were far more likely to experience this compared to only 32.4% of those respondents who were men.
  • Respondents were least likely to consider an increase in bills and utilities as a real problem when telecommuting. Only 6.6% of respondents saw this as their number one issue.
  • Men felt more strongly about their workload increasing and about paying higher bills as a result of working from home. They made up around 60% of respondents for these two issues.
  • Both young male and female respondents were twice as likely to feel that their workloads increased while working from home. The two age groups of 18-24 and 25-34 made up half of those respondents, compared to four other age groups that made up the other half.

The results of PropertyNest's survey are not only eye-opening on the problem areas people are experiencing when telecommuting but the results are also useful in coming up with creative solutions for a more productive remote or hybrid work environment to prepare for a possible future where people are less likely to go into the office and work models become more flexible

It's obvious that a good portion of the workforce that got to work from home may feel this is the ideal setup for them. However, going into an office is one of the ways many find themselves automatically being able to leave their homes and have interactions with other people.

Not only has going under periodic lockdown limited our social interactions but working from home will automatically do that as one needs to consciously make the time to go outside and plan social events.

Distractions at home are another major issue for those who work from home. Videos of people's children or pets interrupting Zoom calls or even news reports on TV would go viral. However, other distractions can also persist, such as roommates or other family members, neighbors, outside noise, chores, and having to cook just to name a few.

Unwanted Repercussions of Working From Home During the Pandemic

Working from home often brings other issues such as people's workload increasing. Because employees can be connected all the time, this means that many do not shut off. Another end result workers are finding is that because connectivity can be continuous and that they might be in a more "comfortable" environment, their bosses or employers might expect them to be a lot more productive, expect more output, or more frequent or tighter deadlines.

The younger age groups seemed to voice this as their top concern for working at home more often because they were less likely to have busy young families at home that might have proved distracting and clearly notice the uptick in output expectations. Another possible reason could be that employers may expect more from a younger workforce who is more likely to be tech-savvy and less straddled with childcare problems.

Another issue that is often not considered as a disadvantage when working from home is the increase in bills. Being at home means an increase in heating and cooling, using of appliances and electronics, and charging devices. Less often considered are little things like having to buy more groceries for home. This could make a dent in your budget especially if you worked at a place that provided free food and drinks.

Not only will people's utilities most likely go up but some employees at the horror of discovering that they may have to pay taxes in multiple states.

This happened if they moved during the pandemic because they could work from home as some states require remittance of taxes if they worked one day in that state. While working from home allows you to deduct some work-related expenses from your taxes, generally, the IRS caps these deductions so that savings are somewhat limited.

The migration and home sales during the pandemic also highly skewed property values in certain areas, meaning property taxes and insurance premiums can spike.

Solutions for Telecommuters Can Draw New Tenants and Buyers

Major cities have seen an exodus as people who can work from home, look elsewhere for a better quality of life during the pandemic. Many residential buildings in cities like New York have seen a decline in occupancy rates as well as asking rent prices.

Drawing from the fact that many of the country's largest employers such as Facebook, Twitter, Nationwide, J.P. Morgan Chase, Zillow, and Reddit just to name a few are offering either the option to continue to work from home or prioritizing a remote workplace permanently, real estate developers, landlords, and even sellers can take advantage of this new wave to attract residents back.

Residential buildings such as rentals, co-ops, or condos can have an advantage in providing solutions for new residents who all work from home.

The first obvious solution could be to provide premium high-speed wi-fi to all the units. Whether that's provided for free could be up to the developer or landlord. However, having it already set up and ready to go would be a major advantage. At nearly 10% of PropertyNest's survey respondents having said that internet connection was their biggest issue, providing sound digital infrastructure would be a major draw.

Open floor plans are attractive to many people. However, offering private workspaces in the housing unit or within the building's common spaces could be a real selling point.

In fact, offering more common and shared spaces within larger buildings could draw more tenants or buyers in a building as well as fetching higher rents. Workspaces in large luxury buildings have usually meant "business centers", which normally amount to nothing more than one or two conference rooms.

However, developers could take a page out of shared workspace models and implement an adjusted layout into their amenity spaces or within large loft units themselves.

Generally, landlords may have to offer far more amenities such as outdoor space and even shared spaces where people can interact socially. There are already buildings that have host social events for their tenants. This could become the norm especially when the pandemic has subsided.

Buildings with energy efficiency or included utilities could also see an edge over their competition.

Catering specifically for a workforce that lives where they work could be the next wave in residences.

Survey Methodology

PropertyNest conducted a national online survey on which factor people who were telecommuting saw as the biggest drawback from working from home from April 8 to April 15, 2021. 1,200 respondents ages 18 and older participated with a margin of error of +/- 2.1%. 5.7% of respondents did not work from home or named a different issue.