Telecommuting during COVID-19: How does it shape the future workplace and workforce?


Xinyi Qian, Neil Linscheid

March 2022

Report no. MnDOT 2022-05

The objective of this research is to assess the impact of temporarily shifting the workforce to telecommuting on: (1) workplace policy changes, employee support, and future telecommuting plans, (2) employees' experience of telecommuting during COVID-19 and forecast of future telecommuting, and (3) differences among geographic areas, life circumstances, and demographic characteristics. The project employed a mixed-method approach, doing focus groups of human resources professionals in April 2021 and surveying workers and employers during the July through September 2021 period.

Worker survey: Greater Minnesota respondents were more likely to telecommute no more than one day a week post-pandemic, while Twin Cities respondents were more likely to telecommute two to three days a week. Those with one or more children living at home were more likely to have a formal post-pandemic telecommuting agreement with their employers. Baby boomers were the most likely to telecommute four to five days a week post-pandemic. Gen Z respondents were the most likely to telecommute no more than one day a week post-pandemic.

Employer survey: 71.4% of respondents indicated that most employees would return to in-person work post-pandemic, and 24.4% indicated the employers would only support infrequent (less than one day a month) telecommuting post-pandemic. Roughly a quarter indicated their organizations may recruit completely remote talent from outside of Minnesota. Employer representatives, compared to worker survey respondents, were much more likely to indicate their organizations had not developed a telecommuting policy for the future at the time of the survey. Worker survey respondents were much more likely to indicate that employers would support telecommuting anywhere between one and five days a week.


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