How to find remote work amid coronavirus unemployment

U.S. Remote Workdays Have Doubled During Pandemic

How to find remote work amid coronavirus unemployment

  • 49% of U.S. workers have ever telecommuted
  • U.S. workers average 5.8 remote workdays, up from 2.4 pre-pandemic
  • One in four workers say they are working entirely from home


— The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in remote work. However, that surge is more apparent in the number of remote working days for telecommuters than in the number of workers moving from on-site to at-home work.

Since Gallup last asked about remote work in October 2019, there has been a modest uptick in the percentage of U.S. workers who report having ever telecommuted for work, from 42% to 49%. The recent figures demonstrate the growth in remote work over recent decades from 9% in Gallup's initial measurement in 1995.

Line graph. Forty-nine percent of U.S. workers say they have ever telecommuted for their job a modest increase from 42% in 2019. From 2006 through 2015 between 30% and 37% of workers said they had telecommuted. When the question was first asked in 1995 9% had telecommuted.

While the percentage of U.S. workers who have telecommuted has changed modestly, the average number of workdays telecommuters are working from home has more than doubled, from 5.8 days per month last fall to 11.9 days currently. Among all U.S. workers, the average number of telecommuting days has also more than doubled, from 2.4 per month to 5.8.

Line graph. Assuming 20 workdays per month U.S. workers report working remotely 5.8 days per month an increase from 2.4 in 2019 and averages near 2.0 between 2006 and 2015. Among people who have telecommuted the average number of remote workdays in 2020 is 11.9 per month up from averages near 6 in prior years.

These results are Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, conducted July 30-Aug. 12.

The poll finds 26% of U.S. workers currently saying they have worked entirely from home in recent weeks, while 51% are working entirely from a location outside their home, with one in five reporting a mix of on-site and remote work.

One in Four U.S. Workers Working Entirely From Home

U.S. workers % Entirely from home Mostly from home About equally from home/outside home Mostly from a location outside your home Entirely from a location outside your home No opinion
Gallup, July 30-Aug. 12, 2020

Nearly half of those who have ever telecommuted, 45%, say they have been working entirely from home in recent weeks, with another 14% working mostly from home. This question had not been asked previously, so it is not possible to know how those figures compare with before the pandemic.

However, 13% of telecommuters and 5% of all workers in 2019 said they worked from home 20 days a month (assuming 20 monthly workdays). Now, the figures are 45% and 22%, respectively.

College Graduates Much More ly to Work Remotely

As might be expected, telecommuting is much more common among Americans with a college degree than those without one.

Employed college graduates are more than twice as ly as employees without a college degree to work remotely.

This is seen in the percentages reporting that they have ever telecommuted, as well as in the number of days they report working remotely and in their self-reports of whether they are currently working entirely from home.

Remote Work by Demographics

Ever telecommuted Average days telecommute/month Working entirely from home % % Education College graduate Not college graduate Gender Women Men Age 18-34 years 35-54 years 55+ years
Gallup, July 30-Aug. 12, 2020

The survey also shows that working women are more ly than working men to be performing their job functions remotely.

The differences between younger and older workers' lihood to work remotely are not statistically meaningful.

An analysis of prior Gallup data on occupation finds that the vast majority of college graduates work in what can be considered white-collar occupations, and that women are much more ly than men to do so.

Last year, an average of 63% of college graduates versus 29% of college nongraduates had ever telecommuted, so the growth in telecommuting has come almost entirely among those with higher educational attainment.

Also, before this year, men and women were about equally ly to say they had ever telecommuted for work.

The emerging gender gap in remote work probably reflects women's greater presence in white-collar than blue-collar jobs.


The widespread closure of businesses and schools to control the spread of the coronavirus sent unemployment soaring.

The jobs situation would have been much worse if not for advances in technology that allow many workers to complete their work remotely. Close to half of U.S.

workers have now taken advantage of opportunities to telecommute, and currently about one-quarter are doing so every workday.

Of course, not every job can be done remotely; therefore, the growth of telecommuting has a ceiling. Half of U.S. workers currently say they do their job entirely at a location outside their home. Given this, and that half of U.S.

workers report they have never telecommuted, the growth in the proportion of the workforce that could telecommute may have reached that ceiling during the pandemic.

Further growth in remote work may thus come in the amount of time workers spend outside the office or work site, rather than in the number of workers who do so.

Having an expanded remote workforce alters the dynamics for employers in many ways. Remote work changes the considerations on where employers can find and attract new hires. For example, flexible work arrangements have special appeal to millennials and women.

But remote work also can create both challenges and opportunities when it comes to worker engagement, worker productivity and maintaining company culture.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend toward remote work and has made companies' policies toward it even more crucial to their success.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.


Work from home: More companies are letting new hires work anywhere permanently amid COVID-19 pandemic

How to find remote work amid coronavirus unemployment

As companies around the nation deal with coronavirus, some are letting folks work from home. Buzz60

Rasha Uthman was hunting for a public relations job that let her work from her parents’ South Miami home as they struggled with family health issues, but few, if any, local companies in her field were open to telecommuting.  

Insivia, a Cleveland-based consulting and marketing firm for the technology industry, was willing to hire a PR and marketing specialist anywhere in the country after shifting to a remote work setup during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since June, Uthman has been working for Insivia full-time from her childhood bedroom, about 1,240 miles from the company’s headquarters.

“Insivia has been so understanding of my situation,” says Uthman, 36. “I love the flexibility.”

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WFH, even after COVID-19 fades

U.S. companies are doing more than just allowing local employees to work from home, even once a vaccine becomes available for COVID-19 and the health crisis passes, presumably next year. They’re also seeking out new employees anywhere in the country, and even beyond, and letting them work remotely for the long term.

The trend is creating a much larger supply of top job candidates for employers as well as more openings and lifestyle options for workers, many of whom are reluctant to move to a different city or state because it could disrupt a spouse’s career or a child’s schooling.

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“With technology and work collaboration tools, companies see employees are able to be productive” telecommuting, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half International. By scouting for potential hires across the country, “You’re able to tap into a pool of candidates that’s greater than what the company may have looked at before.”

Telecommuting has all the comforts of home — literally. (Photo: Getty Images)

Live in Illinois, work in NYC

For employees, he says, “You can live in Springfield, Illinois, and work in New York City in your dream position.”

Glassdoor, the job posting site, says its remote job openings are up 28.3% from a year ago, even while overall listings are down 23%. Staffing firm Manpower estimates that more than one in four jobs posted in the U.S. specify no location, up from 1 in 10 in January. Some companies, of course, are more willing to accommodate teleworking while the outbreak remains a threat.

But McDonald says most of Robert Half’s business clients — in finance, technology, creative, administrative, legal and human resources – are receptive to hiring remotely for the long haul, especially for hard-to-fill roles. Before the pandemic, few were open to such arrangements, he says.

Another benefit of remote work is increased hiring of underrepresented minorities such as Black Americans and Hispanics. In May, CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted that as much as 50% of the company's 45,000-person workforce could be working remotely in the next five to 10 years. Zuckerberg said the shift would help diversify its workforce. 

“When you limit hiring to people who either live in a small number of big cities or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, different backgrounds or may have different perspectives,” Zuckerberg said.

Glassdoor, the job posting site, says its remote job openings are up 28.3% from a year ago even while overall listings are down 23%. Staffing firm Manpower estimates that more than one in four jobs posted in the U.S. specify no location, up from one in 10 in January 2020. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

Top executives work from home

Many companies are even comfortable hiring top executives, such as department directors, to work remotely, says Jeanne Branthover, a managing partner at DHR International, an executive search firm.

While corporations still prefer that C-suite executives and company leaders, such as vice presidents, work at headquarters, many are open to allowing them to work three weeks a month at home in another state and one week in the office, Branthover says.  

Hiring, of course, came to a relative standstill in March and April as states shut down restaurants, stores, movie theaters and other outlets to avoid contagion, an economic deep freeze that rippled to the professional service firms that can let employees work remotely. Now, however, firms are filling some positions that were open before the crisis as well as others created during the outbreak as employees quit to care for sick relatives, McDonald says.

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After losing 22 million jobs and March and April, the economy added a net 7.5 million positions in May and June, according to the Labor Department.

Video chats encourage teamwork

Before the pandemic, Insivia required that all 18 of its employees work in the office.

“We felt a level of comfort,” CEO Andy Halko says. “If you see them in person, you think they’re working.” Now, he says, “I think that’s a fallacy.”

Halko also worried that “a lack of collaboration would be detrimental to the (work) culture.

” But he says teamwork has improved now that employees are participating in daily video meetings and using work collaboration tools, such as Slack.

He says Insivia is letting all employees work remotely, terminating the lease on its 6,000 square-foot office, and renting a smaller space for meetings and staffers who want to work in the office sometimes.

A natural next step, he says, was to widen his job searches. By looking only in the Cleveland area for a project manager who has experience with software companies, “The pool of candidates is about 50 people,” he says. But by broadening the search nationwide, as he did recently, “My candidate pool goes up to 600 to 700 people…We can find the very specific skill set we’re looking for.”

Uthman, his South Miami-based employee, has experience in tech-related marketing and public relations because she freelanced for Insivia before she was hired. She typically works from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then spends time with family or runs errands before putting in a couple of hours in the evening, she says.

When the pandemic recently spiked in South Florida, she and her family moved to her sister’s house in the Nashville, Tennessee area, waiting for the flare-up to ease.

“If I wasn’t working remotely, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do that,” she says. And, she says, “If I want to move across the U.S. (and still work for Insivia) I could.”

The remote work trend is also providing new opportunities to laid-off workers.

ISHIR, a Dallas-based software development company, has shifted its 12 employees to teleworking and relinquished its office. The firm is also seeking new workers across the country, says CEO Rishi Khanna, recently bringing on programmers in Midland, Texas; Houston; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. All three had lost their jobs because of the coronavirus-induced recession.

“We feel we want to embrace having the greatest talent no matter where it is,” he says.

By widening his searches, Khanna says he runs less risk of losing software candidates to other programming firms in the highly competitive Dallas market.

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Haig Service, which installs and maintains safety and security systems, was probably among the least ly companies to welcome a shift to remote work, acknowledges CEO Richard Haig. But since the crisis, the company has adopted video and collaboration technology and is allowing its 35 employees in Green Brook, New Jersey, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to work remotely for the long run.

Haig recently hired a University of Berkeley student part-time to redesign the company’s website and handle social media. He plans to transition her to full-time work when she graduates.

“The candidates I’m now getting wouldn’t even be applying to my company” if they had to relocate and work in Haig’s offices, he says.

Even medical and psychotherapy offices are making the most of the shift.

Amy Serin, a neuropsychologist with three clinics in Arizona, is seeking therapists anywhere – as long as they have a license to practice in Arizona – now that patients have grown accustomed to teletherapy during the pandemic.

And if she hires a New York City therapist, for example, “Now I can recruit patients in New York,” Serin says.

Contributing: Jessica Guynn

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