Sep 6, 2022
A national survey of remote workers conducted in July 2022 found that remote workers remain strongly committed to their work-from-anywhere lifestyle and are open to moving to improve their quality of life.
As many as 23 million remote workers say they could move more than 2 hours away in the next 12 months and more than half (53%) think it would be a fairly easy process.
Younger remote workers are more mobile — 29% of 18-24 year olds and 24% of 25-34 year olds say they are “very likely” to move more than 2 hours away in the next 12 months compared to 14% of 45-54 year olds and 13% of 55-64 year olds.
More than half (56%) of remote workers say they would be better off living someplace else, a sentiment that is stronger among remote workers under 35 (60%) and remote workers with children (58%).
Even as pandemic fears ebb, the desire to work from home remains strong. More than half (61%) of remote workers rate the freedom to work from home as very important and 27% rate it as somewhat important.
Our research found that remote workers are more likely to be younger, highly educated, and higher income. These workers are confident in the demand for their skill sets. Nearly 3 out of 4 (74%) said that they could easily find a new job if needed.
To determine what remote workers want in a new community, Bellweather Research tested 37 attributes – ranging from cultural and social dynamics to infrastructure and pocketbook issues – that could play a part in considering where to move. From these, we identified a handful of table stakes that were most important to all remote workers – cost-of-living, safety, reliable high-speed Internet and high quality medical care. After these “must-haves,” the following attributes rose to the top:
Community: Remote workers value a connection with their community, including personal and professional friendships, and (for some) being closer to extended family.
More space: Remote workers desire more open and green space for living and recreational opportunities.
Education: Some remote workers (those with children) value access to quality K-12 while younger remote workers are interested in higher education opportunities.
These quieter, quality-of-life attributes were ranked much higher than those requiring major infrastructure investment such as proximity to an airport, public transportation, or a vibrant downtown area. This could be good news for small towns that are known for their hospitality, affordability, safety, peaceful scenery, larger single-family houses and yards.
Like all remote workers, Gen Z and Millennials prioritize cost-of-living and safety while also expressing a desire for community connection. After that, their unique values begin to emerge. As the most racially diverse generation in our country's history, Gen Z workers value racial diversity in a community, as well as access to women's reproductive/abortion care - the only cohort for whom these are top considerations; they also appreciate culture (art, music, museums) and job opportunities to help advance their careers.
Millennials - the oldest of whom are now 40 years old - are focused on finances, low local taxes, and a $5,000 relocation incentive. This generation also puts a high priority on access to education, for themselves and their children.
Bellwether Research conducted a representative survey of 3,861 adults, online, July 8-10, 2022. The full sample was balanced to approximate a target sample of adults in the United States based on Census (CPS 2020) proportions broken out by age, gender, race, educational attainment, Hispanic ethnicity and Geographic Census region. Weights were applied using iterative proportional fitting (raking) to approximate marginal distributions. Data was weighted for respondents that provided responses to all demographic weighting variables. After weighting, responses were filtered based on remote work status. Total sample size of remote workers = 1,024. Crosstab percentages are weighted proportions while N-sizes for the total sample and sub samples are unweighted. Respondents had the opportunity to take the survey on their mobile phone, computer, or tablet. Due to rounding and weighting, percentages may or may not equal 100%. The margin of sampling error for the full poll is +/- 2%. The margin of error for full-time remote workers is +/- 3%. Margin of sampling errors do not include design effect adjustments and can be approximated1/sqrt(N)
MaxDiff analysis is a survey-based research technique used to quantify how important a given item is relative to others in a given list. A MaxDiff question shows respondents a set of items, asking them to choose what is most and least important, and iterated multiple times with random sets of options. When the results are displayed, each item is scored, indicating the order of preference across all respondents. MaxDiff, short for maximum difference scaling, is sometimes referred to as best-worst scaling.