COVID-19 has altered life as we know it, pushing many tech workers into their homes and bringing changes that will reverberate in the world of work for years to come. But how does this experience impact employees, both now and in the future? 

To learn more, Indeed surveyed 616 U.S. employees from the tech sector who worked in the office before COVID-19 and switched to full-time remote work. Although nearly everyone (96%) says working from home is here to stay, people are responding in different ways — and the shift is transforming not only how tech employees work, but also how they live. 

Six out of 10 tech workers willing to take a pay cut to continue working from home

95% of tech workers with the option plan to work from home permanently.

Nearly half (48%) of the tech employees we surveyed now have the option to work from home permanently, even though they weren’t doing so pre-COVID-19 — and 95% intend to take their employers up on this offer. Six out of 10 would even be willing to take a pay cut in order to continue working from home. 

Virtual work is definitely popular, but why? Among those planning to stay remote, 86% cite the increased flexibility and lack of commute. Eighty-three percent say they can better meet their home and family responsibilities, suggesting that remote work provides greater work-life balance. This is especially crucial for working parents right now, who often juggle work responsibilities with their children’s care and, for the moment, virtual schooling. 

As for the 5% of respondents who want to go back to the office, 63% of them say working from home makes it harder to collaborate, while 62% cite the lack of social opportunities with coworkers. 

Half of this small, yet vocal minority think working from home negatively impacts their career growth — and nearly half say they will look for a new job in an office if their employer switches to permanent remote work. The good news is: that likely won’t be necessary. Based on their insights from this year, more tech companies are planning to incorporate hybrid options combining remote and on-site work, and give employees more autonomy to choose what works best for them in the future. 

Two-thirds of tech employees believe WFH will boost diversity

94% of tech workers believe widespread remote work will boost geographic diversity.

Shifting to permanent remote work could bring a variety of changes beyond eliminating commutes and in-person meetings. Some of these are positive: Two-thirds of tech workers predict that the growing acceptance of working from home will increase diversity in terms of disability (79%), gender (77%) and race/ethnicity (72%). And, a whopping 94% believe it will boost geographic diversity, drawing new hires from different cities or regions. 

When it comes to the impact of remote work, the glass is half-full for some and half-empty for others. A slight majority (52%) worry about their future job prospects if more companies make the switch, due to increased competition from workers in other areas. 

However, 45% of tech workers believe the shift will make it easier for them to find a new job. Within this group, 78% say job searches will become easier once they can apply for openings throughout their metropolitan area or region, no longer having to worry about commute times or the headache of relocating. 

What’s more, 39% of tech workers who think job searches will become easier claim that virtual work will provide access to jobs they previously wanted, but that were out of reach due to location. 

Sixty percent of tech workers plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months

Reasons 60% of tech workers are planning a job search in the next 12 months.

Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean people have put their careers on hold. Sixty percent of the tech workers surveyed plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, but their reasons for seeking new jobs varied. Nearly half (48%) of them are looking for a better salary. However, fear is also a motivator, with 44% and 38%, respectively, citing potential layoffs and furloughs. As the U.S. enters another COVID-19 wave, workers across sectors are bracing for what might come — and planning accordingly.

Among tech workers who plan to remain in their current roles, 45% want to see how their employer emerges from the pandemic, while 37% are determining family needs before making a job change. More than one-third (35%) are riding things out due to economic uncertainty. 

Tech workers planning to change jobs share their location preferences.

Now that they’ve experienced full-time remote work, more than half (55%) of tech workers say that if they do change jobs, they’ll look for one with flexible or hybrid work options, while 35% want a job that is permanently remote. Interestingly, only 7% want a job that requires them to be in the office full-time. 

More than half of tech employees plan to move in the next 12 months

Many have speculated about the impact of virtual work on where people choose to live. Will it push people to abandon tech hubs or leave cities for suburbs and smaller towns? While the change to remote work is giving people more options for where to live, most don’t plan to stray very far. 

Forty-two percent have already moved or temporarily relocated due to their ability to work remotely during COVID-19. More than one-third (37%) of these workers do not intend to return to their previous location and 11% are uncertain whether they will. 

The top reasons tech workers are moving to a new location.

Overall, 52% of tech workers plan to move in the next 12 months. Their top reasons are to improve their quality of life (69%), reduce the cost of living (50%) and be closer to family (38%).

However, most of those who plan to move aren’t going far. Only 19% intend to move to a new state, while nearly half (48%) will move to a different city in their current state. About one-third (31%) plan to move within their metropolitan area, with 56% moving neighborhoods within the city and 20% leaving the city altogether for the suburbs. In addition to the social benefits of staying close, many tech workers are likely considering another factor: money. With some companies implementing pay cuts for virtual workers who move to a new city or region, a location change comes at a cost.

76% of tech workers believe it's important to remain close to a tech hub.

Despite seemingly endless options, more than three-fourths (76%) of tech workers believe it’s important to remain close to a tech hub, even when working remotely full-time. Why? Fifty-two percent say local professional networks are important, and 46% speculate that employers will continue to prefer workers from nearby markets. 

Remote work is here to stay, but tech workers are making moves

Almost all tech employees believe remote work is here to stay, and most of them prefer it due to the greater flexibility and work-life balance it provides. 

Most believe these shifts will increase workplace diversity, and while some worry that a larger talent pool will increase competition, many are optimistic about the increased access to jobs. Many plan to search for remote positions within the next year, yet remain close to home. 

It has been a challenging year for tech workers, but the sudden shift to working from home brought valuable insights that will continue to shape work — and workers — moving forward.