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San Franciscans Aren’t Going Back to the Office Anytime Soon

Written by Kevin TruongPublished Oct. 21, 2022 • 12:09pm
Rira Raisi sits at her computer on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in her home in San Francisco where she has been working during the Covid pandemic. Raisi is hoping to return to work with a hybrid schedule that includes several work-from-home days. | Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

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Initially a feature of the pandemic, remote work has become a core part of San Francisco’s culture and is likely to persist permanently—at least if the city’s voters have their way.

According to The Standard’s Fall Voter Poll, a majority of residents who are currently working do so remotely at least part of the time. Roughly 61% of working respondents say they work remotely at least one day a week, compared to 39% who say they go to their workplaces every day. Drilling down further, 27% of voters say they work remotely every day compared with 19% who work remotely three or more days a week and 16% who work remotely one to two days a week.

The split is even more dramatic in the tech industry: Among tech workers, 46% work remotely every day versus 43% that work a hybrid schedule—meaning they work some days in-person and some remote. A mere 11% go to their workplaces every day. 

There are also stark generational divides when it comes to remote or hybrid work. A majority of those 50 and older currently go into their workplaces every day compared with about a third of workers between the ages of 18 and 49. 

San Franciscans’ embrace of remote and hybrid work has major implications for the city’s economy and budget—a reality that city officials are only beginning to grapple with. 

Mayor London Breed, once a cheerleader for the return to the office, acknowledged this week that’s not happening anytime soon. 

“This whole work-from-home thing is here to stay,” Breed said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “We thought people would miss working around other people, but they do not.”

That bears out in The Standard’s poll data: Asked where they’d like to be working a year from now, 31% of poll respondents said they would prefer never to go back to the office. The largest chunk preferred a hybrid schedule of 1-2 days a week (37%) or 3-4 days a week (20%). Only 3% say they would like to go back to the office everyday.

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A full 86% of respondents who identify as Gen Z say they would like to work in a hybrid schedule in 2023, compared with 46% of Baby Boomers, 53% of Gen Xers and 58% of Millenials. 

San Franciscans’ continued embrace of remote work comes despite evolving attitudes toward the pandemic—particularly when compared to previous polling

Twenty-nine percent of respondents say they are not all concerned about Covid and are living their life as if it never happened, a 10% percent increase from polling in May. 

Respondents who were still or very concerned about the pandemic and taking many precautions dropped from 41% in The Standard’s Spring Voter Poll to 36% in the fall survey. Younger San Franciscans are in general less concerned about Covid and are more ready to return to their pre-pandemic lives than older respondents.

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Kevin Truong can be reached at [email protected]


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