More than three years after pandemic shutdowns forced employers and employees to shift toward remote work if they could, it seems that for a portion of working Californians, remote and hybrid work is here to stay. The option to work remotely seems to be contributing to the job satisfaction of many workers across the state.
According to the November PPIC Statewide Survey, 14% of Californians say they work remotely all of the time; 21% are working in a mix of some work from home and some outside the home at the workplace, and about six in ten (61%) say they are working exclusively in person at the workplace. These shares have not changed much since November 2021—about 18 months into the pandemic. Today, two in three Californians who work remotely at least part of the time say they started working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not every working Californian has the option of working remotely, of course. Job types and work situations vary widely across demographic groups and across regions. Overall, about four in ten employed Californians say their work can be done from home (42%), nearly equal to the 41% who said this in November 2022, the first time the survey included this question.
However, the prevalence of remote work has shifted among some working Californians. Across racial/ethnic groups, the share of African Americans who say they have the option to work at home has increased 9 percentage points since last year. Latinos remain least the likely racial/ethnic group to say this. Across regions, the share of residents in the Inland Empire who report being able to work remotely increased by 14 points, while this share has declined 8 points in Orange and San Diego Counties.
If given a choice next year, nearly four in ten employed adults say they would prefer working in person full time (38%), while about three in ten say they would prefer full-time remote work (29%) and one in three say they would prefer a mix of remote and in-person (or hybrid) work (33%). The share expressing a preference to work in person (42%) was slightly higher in 2021.
Half or more across regions and demographic groups prefer either a hybrid or fully remote work situation over in-person work. However, there is some variation: Latinos and older adults are less likely than other racial/ethnic and age groups to prefer working remotely at least some of the time, while workers earning $80,000 or more are more likely to prefer it.
Workplace preferences align with the current work situations of most employed Californians: nearly three in four fully remote workers express a preference for remote work, about six in ten hybrid workers prefer a hybrid situation, and 57% of in-person workers prefer in-person work.
About four in ten in-person workers say they would rather be fully remote (20%) or in a hybrid situation (23%). The share of in-person workers who would prefer to work remotely at least part of the time has been rising somewhat since 2021 (37% 2021, 39% 2022, 43% 2023). Very few fully remote or hybrid workers would rather work in person.
While it is impossible to say whether or not organizations and employers will change their remote and hybrid work policies in the future, current levels of flexibility probably contribute to many Californians’ positive opinions about their jobs. Majorities of California workers—regardless of their work situations—are at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs, and most these workers also say their jobs have stable pay, predictable hours, and/or opportunities for growth and advancement. There is also evidence that remote work reduces the amount of time (and money) spent on commuting. Moreover, a nationwide Gallup poll conducted this summer found that 29% of hybrid workers and 61% of fully remote workers said they were extremely likely to leave an organization that did not offer some degree of remote flexibility.
Remote work has become a mainstay option for many working Californians. As workplaces across the state and the country continue to evolve, PPIC will keep tracking Californians’ workplace preferences and opinions on remote, hybrid, and in-person work.