Survey Finds Remote Work Benefits Are Not Equitable

Remote work has soared in popularity among San Diego County businesses since the pandemic.

However, a new survey found that the benefits mostly go to high-income employees and are not distributed equitably.

The survey was commissioned by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the countywide planning agency.

SANDAG found 57% of San Diego County businesses offer a remote work option to at least one of their employees, up from 47% in 2021.

Nevertheless, the share of employees who can work remotely is only 39%. That’s lower than at the pandemic’s peak but still higher than pre-COVID-19 levels.

Cindy Burke, senior director of data science at SANDAG, shined a light to these differences. 

She said jobs that have no remote work options tend to pay lower wages and are more likely to be held by workers who are Black, Latino or under 25 years old. South Bay residents are also less likely to have remote work options than North County residents.

Burke said the findings are critical to SANDAG’s development of its 2025 Regional Transportation Plan, which has to include projects and policies that reduce the amount of driving in San Diego County. Cars and trucks are the county’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The long-term impacts of remote work on vehicle travel aren’t as big as initially thought.

While remote workers may not be driving during rush hour, they are driving more often in the middle of the day, Burke said.

They also found that remote workers are increasingly ordering products delivered to their homes, increasing vehicle travel and offsets the environmental benefits of remote work.

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