Californians Want to Work from Home, Ditch Daily Commutes

A University of Southern California Survey released April 19 found state residents do not want to go back to the daily grind of long commutes or packing trains to get to work. More than half of those surveyed who are now telecommuting want to keep working from home at least three days a week after the pandemic ends. Only 1 percent say they hope to go back to in-person work every day.

USC professor Hernan Galperin, the study’s lead researcher, said the results show remote work has “great potential to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions.” However, the shift might also pose a threat to public transportation agencies that have relied on daily commuters headed to and from their  jobs.

The survey, from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the California Emerging Technology Fund, looked at the impact access to broadband Internet has had on people’s ability to work, learn and conduct doctor’s visits remotely.

Like other research on remote working, the survey found wealthier workers are more likely to telecommute. Those who are considered “low-income,” meaning they earned less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, were twice as likely to report they are working in-person five days per week.

Almost one-third of current telecommuters, 31 percent, say they would be happy to work from home five days a week. Others want something between their Zoom-based present and a full return to daily commuting.

More than 20 percent said they would like to work from home three to four days per week, and another 29 percent said one to two days of telecommuting was the right balance.

The USC survey was based on phone interviews with 1,650 California residents, conducted in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese in February and March. It has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.