experiment Employment

Remotely Working or Working the Remote?


Working from home in the comfort of sweatpants with unlimited access to snacks was possibly the only benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with many tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Meta asking employees to return to the office, we hope sweatpants are added to the dress code because, let’s face it, once you go elastic, life is (up to) twice as fantastic.


Currently, 60% of working Americans are in an office full-time, while 36% work completely remote (18%) or split their time between the office and home (18%). But how long will this remain the status quo? Among those currently working fully remote, 23% believe there is a chance they will be dragged back asked to return to the office at least part-time by the end of the year.


While many employers didn’t mask the benefits of remote work during the height of the pandemic, some now say employees are more productive when working in a traditional office setting. To uncover how Americans really feel about this idea, we secretly recorded their Zoom meetings. Well, kinda… we employed a list experiment to identify whether there are any differences between how American workers privately and publicly feel about work productivity in the office space.



In the aggregate, there are no differences between Americans’ public versus private opinions—in both types of questioning, 53% endorsed the statement, “The average worker is more productive in a traditional workspace compared to at home.” However, differences between private and public opinions are more pronounced for those who work in an office at least some of the time.


Specifically, Americans who spend at least part-time in an office are about 10% less likely to say the average worker is more productive in a traditional office environment when asked privately than publicly. We’d be more likely to publicly agree with that statement, too, if our employer were a tech giant who had access to all our data. Sure, we look at cat videos for four hours a day, but that feels pretty purrrductive.