Many Triangle workers want remote work and new jobs post-pandemic, survey says

Surveys are finding that many workers in the Triangle, especially tech workers, want to continue working remotely after the pandemic.

Surveys are finding that many workers in the Triangle, especially tech workers, want to continue working remotely after the pandemic.

A new survey of working Americans may give employers an idea of what to expect as the coronavirus pandemic loosens its grasp on the economy: There will be many workers looking for new jobs, but many of them now want to work remotely full-time.

That’s especially true in the Triangle, which was among the top 10 surveyed metropolitan areas in the U.S. where workers prefer to work remotely full-time and where workers plan to seek a new job in the next several months.

Some 54% of workers in the Raleigh-Durham metro area want to work fully remote and 37% will soon join the job hunt. That’s according to an online survey in March and April of about 3,000 working adults conducted by consulting firm Robert Half.

“There is no doubt that workers in Raleigh are feeling confident in their job prospects,” said Kendall Strickland, the Raleigh branch manager for Robert Half, in an email. “With that comes the ability to demand a little bit more from either their current employer or a hiring manager from another organization who is in need of top talent. The data also speaks to the demand, particularly in (Raleigh-Durham).”

Strickland points out that the job market has returned to pre-pandemic conditions. There has been an increase of nearly 1 million unfilled jobs to 9.3 million, the highest recorded since 2000, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report released in early June.

“What has changed since then is the needs and wants of the individual worker,” Strickland said. “Before, workers might have been more interested in a higher salary or more vacation days. Now, it appears more workers are concerned with maintaining the flexibility that they have had since the onset of the pandemic.”

Global financial services firm Prudential noted in a May survey that 48% of American workers are rethinking the type of job they want after the pandemic and 42% of workers who are caregivers indicated workplace flexibility is a priority.

Work-from-home flexibility

Much of workers’ desire for flexible work-from-home scheduling stems from needing to be around their families more often, Strickland said.

This is the case for stay-at-home dad Erik Landfried, a former GoTriangle transportation planner who is looking to reenter the job market this summer. Landfriend quit his job in March last year to seek another job and looks after his children while his wife works full-time.

“I’m hoping that I’m able to find something a little more flexible than the sort of typical 9-to-5,” said Landfriend, 43, in a phone interview. “And, you know, that that’s actually kind of become a high priority for me. I don’t necessarily need to always work remotely, but … in some ways, it would be nice, because then I can have more time with my kids.”

Landfried has had his children do remote schooling for the entirety of the pandemic but they will return in person this fall. Before, he worked typical hours in-office a majority of the time. But now, asking employers for flexibility with a hybrid work model isn’t as hard as it used to be, he said.

“I think I’m looking (for work) a little more further afield and then maybe looking nationally, because there are, it seems like, a lot of companies are now more comfortable with working remotely,” said Landfried. “I’m hoping that will sort of expand the job pool for me as well.”

As coronavirus restrictions eased this year and vaccines rolled out, some of the Triangle’s biggest employers — both companies and local governments — adopted a “hybrid” model by bringing workers back into the office but also allowing many of them to fully or partially work remotely, The N&O reported previously.

The Triangle ranked fourth out of 53 metro areas in its share of parents working remote-friendly jobs at 39%, according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by CoPilot, an online car shopping platform.

The Triangle’s high percentage of workers who say they’ll seek a new job in the next several months in the survey by Robert Half is also due to this region’s job market.

“The booming Raleigh tech sector certainly plays a role because the demand is there and it shows that workers have options,” Strickland said. “When we see that workers want to quit, it doesn’t always mean that they are unhappy or disgruntled in their current jobs. What it really shows is they are confident in their ability to land a better job and perhaps one that fits their lifestyle better. And in Raleigh where there’s extreme demand for workers, particularly in tech, that explains the ranking.”

Aaron Sánchez-Guerra is the business and real estate reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He previously worked at WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a freelance journalist in Raleigh and Charlotte covering Latino communities. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, a native Spanish speaker and was born in Mexico. You can follow his work on Twitter at @aaronsguerra.

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