A large share of employees want to work remotely, but some say their employers’ lack of guidance on this policy is delaying big decisions.

Nearly half of American employees want to work from home exclusively, a trend that could have broad implications for the nation’s housing market depending on how many employers follow suit.

A new Zillow survey of U.S. workers found that 44 percent want to operate entirely from home going forward, even as many are uncertain over whether their employers will allow them to in the long term. 

Nearly 4 in 10 workers said they weren’t sure whether their companies would require them to return to the office, or how often. Of this group, 1 in 3 said the uncertainty was affecting their ability to make big life decisions, including where to live.

The sheer number of people who want to work remotely suggests the pandemic-driven boom in housing demand may be here to stay for some time, Zillow Senior Managing Economist Chris Glynn said in a report accompanying the survey results.

“As more people learn how often they’ll have to be at their workplace or make a job change to gain that flexibility, we expect to see more people move,” Glynn said in the report. “Remote work will be a significant driver of housing demand for years to come, along with demographic trends.”

The Seattle-based listings giant obtained these results by polling nearly 1,000 American employees. The survey was designed to be representative of the national working population, Zillow said. 

Roughly two-thirds of workers in the survey said control over their life and their time was “very” or “extremely” important to them. The share of respondents who said the same about the freedom to live where they want was nearly as high.

Younger generations signaled they were even more likely to act on these priorities. Of the respondents in the millennial and Gen Z age groups who did not know their employer’s plans for remote work, half said they were at least somewhat likely to seek a new job unless they could work from home at least some of the time.

“Workers are clear in their desire for more flexibility,” Meghan Reibstein, Zillow’s vice president of organizational operation, said in the report. “It’s no surprise employees are willing to change jobs to get to this more sustainable way of working, and employers risk losing people if they ignore employees’ preferences.” 

Previous studies by Zillow’s research team have found remote or hybrid employees are nearly twice as likely as in-person workers to say they would move. 

Home values have been growing faster in suburban areas up to an hour-and-a-half out from the nation’s city centers, the company’s research team found. The larger, more affordable homes in these areas appear to be particularly attractive to the pandemic-era buyer.

In addition to the 44 percent who said they wanted to work remotely full time, another 40 percent said they would prefer to work remotely at least some of the time. Between those two categories, that amounts to the vast majority of workers surveyed.

Email Daniel Houston

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