Two Years and Counting: How Are Remote Workers Faring Today?
A majority of U.S. adults surveyed want work-from-home opportunities to continue.
When the COVID-19 pandemic locked down the United States in March 2020, Anna, a licensed clinical mental health counselor practicing in Northern California, closed her office door and began meeting with clients virtually and by telephone from her home. Almost two years later, she’s still there.
“I think I am faring pretty well, certainly if I compare it to all the people who I know are really struggling right now,” says Anna, which is a pseudonym due to the confidential nature of her work. “I’m really lucky that my field is booming right now, but I also feel sad that my field is booming right now because that means there’s a lot more suffering in the world. I’ve had to turn away more people in the last couple years than I ever have in my practice. So, that doesn’t feel great either.”
Since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic in March 2020, remote work has become the norm for Anna and millions of Americans. But what’s now second nature arrived in a sudden, seismic upheaval. In just three weeks, between mid-March and early April 2020, the percentage of U.S. adults working remotely jumped from 31% to 62%.1
The transition was epically challenging. But almost two years on, employers and workers alike are calling the work-from-home experience a success.2 More than half of the employees surveyed by PwC, a global network of professional services professionals, said they would like to continue to work from home at least three days a week.3 Researchers at Gallup, the global analytics firm, also find that there’s a strong desire for remote work.
“There are 125 million full-time jobs in America, and about 50% of them can be done remotely. Of those who can work off-site, 30% want to be fully remote while 60% want to be remote some of the time,” researchers say. “… What's driving this trend? Employees say that remote work eliminates their commute, improves their overall well-being, and offers flexibility for family needs and other obligations. That's a powerful motivator, and it will be unlikely to go away.”4
Anna cites these as personal benefits, too.
“In my free time, I can make healthy meals, do my laundry, and spend more time with my dogs. I don’t have to get dressed up from the waist down,” she says lightly. “I don’t have to deal with driving, and I save money on gas. I get to spend more time with my partner, and we’ve figured out how to share the space and work together respectfully.”
Professionally, working remotely has allowed her to expand her practice and further her education.
“I can work with a wider demographic of people who live outside of my city, as long as they are in California, per my licensure,” she says. “I can attend more conferences/trainings since they are remote now. Also, it’s less expensive to not have to travel for conferences.”
Work From Home Pitfalls
Remote workers acknowledge there are downsides, too, of course. Work bleeds into personal time for many remote workers. There are family needs and distractions. Some companies have been slow to provide technical support or other tools remote workers need to do their jobs. There is still Zoom and Slack fatigue. Remote work can be isolating.
“I would like to see more people, or be out in the world more,” Anna says. “Professionally, I never see anyone in person, which I do think impacts my work somewhat because I can’t see someone’s entire body. And we aren’t sharing an environment, which makes things harder, too. People are very sensitive to my looking away from the camera, which I need to do for my sanity and to think. And if we were in a room together, both our eyes would wander but it wouldn’t feel so dramatic because we’d be in the same environment.”
The Future of Remote Work
PwC found that while few of the business executives surveyed want to close their offices, they will move toward a mix of in-office and remote work. “This model embraces the flexibility that most employees (and some employers) crave after working from home for months,” the PwC survey says.3
Anna envisions a future hybrid model for her psychotherapy practice, too. “At this point, I have people in my practice who live too far away anyway,” she says.
Learn Remotely and Earn a Degree
Being able to work remotely can also open up new career opportunities. You can earn a degree online to help prepare for jobs in a new field or to deepen your expertise in your current profession.
A leader in distance education for more than 50 years, Walden University gives working professionals the opportunity to earn a college degree online while staying engaged in their careers and family life. Today, students enrolled in Walden’s bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs use the accredited university’s flexible online learning platform to complete their coursework. With an internet connection and laptop, you can work where and when it’s convenient for you.
Walden’s more than 100 online degree and certificate programs let you tailor your education to your career goals. The MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling online degree program can prepare you to pursue professional licensure and a variety of careers in counseling. An MS in Human Resources Management can help ready you to effectively address the workforce challenges COVID-19 presents.
If you’re an RN, you can take your nursing career in a new direction with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). If you want to provide direct patient care, in a healthcare setting or via telehealth, Walden’s online MSN degree program offers five nurse practitioner specializations.
Adult learners from across the U.S. and more than 116 countries5 work remotely but collaboratively in Walden’s online degree programs. Throughout your online education, you’ll work with students and faculty in venues like virtual classrooms, forums, and Facebook groups.
When you’re ready to make an investment in your career, choose an online degree program that offers choice, quality, and a path to your success.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering online certificate programs and bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
5Source: Office of Institutional Effectiveness, as of December 31, 2020.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.