2 out of 3 would consider leaving the region if they could work remotely permanently

“A survey of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area tech workers found that two-thirds would consider leaving the region if they had the option to work remotely permanently.”

— From Business Insiders, by Rob Price, 21st of May 2020

  • A survey of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area tech workers found that two-thirds would consider leaving the region if they had the option to work remotely permanently.
  • The survey was conducted on Blind, a social network that allows employees of companies to participate anonymously.
  • The data highlights how coronavirus and new work-from-home policies may radically reshape the home of America’s tech industry.
  • Respondents also overwhelmingly said they don’t expect to be going back into offices every day after the end of the pandemic.

Anonymous work-focused social network Blind asked 4,400 workers — around 2,800 in the Bay Area, and 1,600 elsewhere — for their thoughts on working remotely and how it would affect their choice of where to live.

The results, which Blind shared with Business Insider, offer a glimpse into how extensively the coronavirus pandemic has affected attitudes among workers in America’s tech capital in just a few months, and could signal sweeping changes that reshape the region.

The coronavirus has forced companies around the world to transition abruptly to an entirely remote workforce, and some San Francisco-headquartered tech companies, notably social network Twitter and bitcoin startup Coinbase, have since announced they will allow most employees to work remotely after the lockdowns end.

The tech industry has long had a troubled relationship with the Bay Area. The region is beset with issues — many of them contributed to by the industry — from high costs of living to a major housing crisis and terrible traffic. Now its offices, shops, bars, and other amenities are off-limits due to coronavirus, some tech workers say they have no reason to stay and are considering leaving the region, and some real estate professionals in rival regions have said they’ve seen an uptick in interest.

Blind’s survey attempts to quantify the depths of this desire to leave.

Asked if they would “consider relocating” if given the option to work from home as much as possible, just 34% of Bay Area respondents said no. Around 18% said they’d consider out of the metro area but in California, 35.7% said elsewhere in the US, and just under 16% said they’d consider out of the country.

Blind found similar results for Seattle and New York, two other high-cost metro areas that national hubs of the tech industry — 69.5% and 62.3% of respondents said they’d consider leaving the cities respectively.

Blind’s data also illustrates a deep skepticism amongst respondents that offices will ever go back to “normal” after the pandemic ends. Asked how often they anticipate going into the office “post COVID-19,” only 15.1% of respondents across all regions said every day. Most — 44.1% — said only 1-2 days a week, 26.4% said 3-4 days a week, and 14.5% said never.

There are limits to Blind’s data that are important to note. It can only survey users of its app, and the people who take the survey have to choose to do so. This means it’s sample isn’t reflective of the population at large, and may not even be truly reflective of the entire technology industry.

But at the very least, it indicates a desire among thousands of tech workers to leave traditional metro areas and consider alternatives to traditional corporate offices — preferences that will influence the policies of their employers and the development of cities for years to come.

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