- 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.
- Respondents also overwhelmingly said they didn’t expect to go back into offices every day after the pandemic.
- The data highlights how coronavirus-related work-from-home policies may radically reshape the home of America’s tech industry.
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A survey of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area tech workers found that two-thirds would consider leaving the region if they were given the option to work from home permanently.
Blind, an anonymous work-focused social network, asked 4,400 workers — about 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 how it could signal sweeping changes that reshape the region.
The pandemic has forced companies around the world to abruptly transition to an entirely remote workforce, and some San Francisco-headquartered tech companies — notably the social network Twitter and the bitcoin startup Coinbase — have since announced they will allow most employees to work remotely after lockdowns end.
The tech industry has long had a troubled relationship with the Bay Area. The region is beset by issues — and the industry contributes to many of them — from a high cost of living to a major housing crisis and terrible traffic. Now that its offices, shops, bars, and other amenities are off-limits because of the pandemic, 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 attempted to quantify the depths of this desire to leave.
Asked whether they would “consider relocating” if given the option to work from home as much as possible, 34% of Bay Area respondents said no. About 18% said they’d consider moving out of the metro area but staying in California, 35.7% said they’d consider going elsewhere in the US, and just under 16% said they’d consider moving out of the country.
Blind found similar results for Seattle and New York, two other high-cost metro areas and tech-industry hubs: 69.5% and 62.3% of respondents said they’d consider leaving the cities.
Blind’s data also illustrates a deep skepticism among respondents that offices will ever go back to “normal” after the pandemic. Asked how often they anticipate going into the office “post-COVID-19,” only 15.1% of respondents across all regions said every day. A plurality — 44.1% — said only one or two days a week, 26.4% said three or four days a week, and 14.5% said never.
There are limits to Blind’s data that are important to note. It can survey only users of its app, and the people who take the survey have to choose to do so. This means its sample isn’t reflective of the population 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 metro areas and consider alternatives to traditional corporate offices — preferences that are likely to influence the policies of their employers and the development of cities for years to come.
How is COVID-19 affecting your work? Contact Business Insider’s reporter Rob Price via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 650-636-6268), encrypted email (firstname.lastname@example.org), standard email (email@example.com), Telegram/Wickr/WeChat (robaeprice), or Twitter DM (@robaeprice). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a nonwork device to reach out. PR pitches by standard email only, please.