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Working from home at least part of the time might be the new norm, but employers in some U.S. states are more flexible about remote work than others.
Colorado has the highest percentage of remote workers, with 37.3% of people working from home at least one-to-two days per week. Maryland (37%), Massachusetts (36.4%), Utah (36%), and Washington state (34.8%) round out the top remote-work hotspots, according to data from SelectSoftware Reviews.
The places with the most knowledge-based jobs are more likely to have large numbers of people working remotely, according to Ravi Gajendran, a business professor at Florida International University in Miami.
"States that are more well known for IT, finance, analytics, those kinds of occupations, we're likely to see a higher proportion of remote work," says Gajendran. "Colorado has a lot of software. ... Utah is emerging as an IP knowledge-based industry ecosystem...and Virginia, New Jersey, all those areas have heavily knowledge-based work."
Maryland (37%) and Virginia (32.1%), parts of which include the Washington, D.C., suburbs, are high on the list due to knowledge-work jobs related to federal contracts, according to Gajendran.
California is home to Silicon Valley, a global center for technology and innovation, but its telework rate (29.9%) does not break the top 10.
"A lot of knowledge workers are based out of big cities and suburbs of big cities," Gajendran says. "For example, a state like California, even though it's 30%, it probably is closer to 60-70% in a place like San Jose or San Francisco, but is much, much lower in the more rural parts of California."
Source: SelectSoftware Reviews
High-tech employees, such as IT workers and computer programmers, were among the first to easily adopt remote work, but the list is expanding, according to Timothy Golden, professor of management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
"As we evolve in a post-pandemic world, telework is also being more widely adopted by other types of workers who are not high tech, and also by more administrative or clerical workers," Golden told VOA via email. "These workers can perform their job outside of the company's physical location and utilize technology to stay fully connected to others in their work unit as well as their clients or customers."
The states with the lowest percentage of teleworkers are Mississippi (11.9%), Louisiana (13.68%), Wyoming (15.51%), Arkansas (15.56%) and North Dakota (15.92%).
"I would expect that urban centers would have a far higher proportion, and rural areas would have a much lower proportion of remote workers," Gajendran says.
The survey shows that 63% percent of U.S. workers never work remotely. But both Gajendran and Golden say the pandemic has permanently altered how millions of Americans do their jobs.
"Remote and hybrid work is here to stay," Golden says. "Remote and hybrid work is now recognized and accepted as an effective work mode that offers advantages to both employers and employees."
"I think most companies will come to realize, at least for the knowledge worker workforce, they will probably find that hybrid remote work where it's 50 in, 50 out, is the sweet spot they're going to end up targeting," Gajendran says. "It's going to be either three days in the office, two days home, or vice versa."