Report: Remote Work Persists as Unemployment Stays Low

remote worker

Don’t write any obituaries for the age of remote work just yet.

A report Tuesday (May 16) by The Wall Street Journal finds that getting people to go back to the office may be easier said than done.

More than three years after the onset of the COVID pandemic, nearly 60% of companies allow employees to work from home at least part of the time, the report said, citing data from Scoop Technologies, whose software tracks workplace strategies at nearly 4,500 companies.

In fact, Scoop has found that the number of companies requiring staff to be at the office full-time has actually fallen by 7% over the last three months, with employees at companies with hybrid strategies spending 2.5 days a week on average at the office.

And as long as unemployment stays low, workers have the upper hand in the battle to keep remote work policies in place, Robert Sadow, Scoop co-founder and CEO, told the WSJ.

“Employees are saying we are going to push really, really hard against being required to be in the office five days a week,” Sadow said. “Most companies in the current labor market have been reluctant to push [back] that hard.”

That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some pushback. As PYMNTS has written, a number of companies — including Disney, Apple and Goldman Sachs — have lobbied to get their workers back in the office.

James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, addressed the issue in a January interview with Bloomberg News.

“They don’t get to choose their compensation, they don’t get to choose their promotion, they don’t get to choose to stay home five days a week,” Gorman said. “I want them with other employees at least three or four days.”

Joining these companies are officials in places like New York City and Washington, D.C., who say the lack of foot traffic from downtown workers has hurt their merchants and their tax bases.

A February study by Bloomberg News estimates that workers in Manhattan are spending 30% less time at the office, which translates to a $12.4 billion decline in spending at businesses in the city each year.

And as reported here last month, remote work can have another — unintended — cost to businesses: it puts them at greater risk for fraud.

Eighty-six percent of companies say remote work has had a detrimental effect on their firms’ fraud prevention efforts, according to research in the PYMNTS report, “How SMBs Can Fight the Fraud Threats of Remote Work.”