Workplace travel has decreased 20% in the US: America among leaders in working from home

The number of trips Americans are making to their workplace has dropped significantly when compared to pre-pandemic figures, a new report finds, as the nation gives into ‘work from home’ culture, and employees begin to refuse to return to work – or stay in positions that require them to go to the office each day.

A new study by Work From Home Research, a research group making up economists from the U.S, UK and Mexico that hopes to gauge the feelings of the global workforce coming out of the pandemic, used phone location data to find that American trips to work every day have dropped by 20 percent when compared to pre-pandemic figures.

Survey results reported by the researchers also found that the average American employee is now working 1.5 days per week from home. Americans seem to have dug in on what researchers describe as ‘work from home culture’ as well, with 15 percent saying they would likely look for a new job if they were told they had to return to the office five days a week.

The report comes as Americans look towards a new potential workplace landscape heading out of the pandemic. Some companies, like Airbnb and Twitter, have introduced permanent work from home in an effort to entice staff to stay on-board, while others like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have brought employees back to the office in recent months.

Researchers found that the number of American work trips has dropped 20% from before the pandemic, trailing only the UK in the level of reduction

Researchers gathered survey data from 33,000 people across the world for the study. The UK leads the way in workforce most eager to remain working from home, with 23 percent of British employees surveyed reporting that they would find a new job if forced into a five day, in-office, work week.

Australia and Canada are the only two other countries where more than one-in-five workers reported that they would leave their job if faced with the prospect of returning to full-time on site work. 

The U.S. comes in tenth of all countries included in the research, also trailing: Hungary, the Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore, Russia and Germany.

Google mobility traffic data gives the most interesting look into the drop in on-site work from Americans. Researchers found that the 20 percent drop in workplace travel was the second highest in the world, only trailing the 24 percent drop by the UK. Neighboring Canada also near-equaled the U.S. figures.

While a section of the workforce will likely work from home forever now coming out of Covid, some are worried that this could harm productivity and local economies.

A study published last month by researchers at Columbia University found that in-person meetings and brainstorming sessions often lead to stronger and more creative ideas than those conducted over video-conferencing software like Zoom.

Some experts, like the UK’s John Caudwell also warn that work from home culture leads to inefficiencies and has made simple government processes like renewing a passport or driver’s license a challenge in the country. 

Another study by the UK’s Rail Industry found that 45 percent of workers felt more productive while in the office, and half of workers even reported potentially unhealthy snacking habits while working from home.

More than one-in-ten U.S. workers say they would leave their job if they were asked to work from the office five days a week, a middling total compared to other peer nations

More than one-in-ten U.S. workers say they would leave their job if they were asked to work from the office five days a week, a middling total compared to other peer nations 

Americans average around 1.5 days of virtual work every week, the survey found

Americans average around 1.5 days of virtual work every week, the survey found

Work from has developed into a battleground between employers and workers in recent months.

Apple, one of the world’s largest companies, recently went to war with its employees over working from home out of its Cupertino, California-based headquarters. 

The company asked its employees to work three days from the office at the start of April, a move that was met with dismay from part of the company’s workforce.

‘I don’t give a single f*** about ever coming back to work here,’ an employee ranted on anonymous corporate message board Blind this week. ‘It was a great resume boost but it’s not for me,’ the worker added.

Several Apple employees expressed their frustration about the new policy, and many commenters supported them, saying ‘yeah, f*** Apple.’

‘I’m going to go in to say hello and meet everyone since I haven’t since I started and then sending in my resignation when I get home,’ the same employee wrote. ‘I already know I won’t be able to deal with the commute and sitting around for 8 hours.’

Other Apple workers complained about what they believe is Apple’s unfair policy, which they pointed out is stricter than other tech companies, including Google, Amazon and Meta.

Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks, also demanded earlier this year that all of its employees return to work for five days a week as well.

JP Morgan Chase, another global capital titan, was forced by employees to reduce work from home days to two days a week, from three, after widespread complaints from the workforce over the return to in-office work.

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