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Poll Finds Majority in State Don’t Want Full-Time Return to Office

Just 18 percent of those surveyed by the University of Southern California and the California Emerging Technology Fund said they would prefer to return to the office full time if allowed.

After living in lockdown for a year-plus and dreading the return of daily traffic, many Californians are happy to keep working from home once the pandemic ends, according to a statewide study published this week.

About 31 percent of adults who are working from home said they would prefer to continue telecommuting every day, according to the study, by the University of Southern California and the California Emerging Technology Fund. Just over 50 percent said they would like to split their time between home and the office. Among those surveyed, just 18 percent said they would prefer to return to the office full time if allowed.

The study asked 1,650 residents questions about their telehealth and telecommuting habits and preferences.

“The hesitancy towards remote work, learning and telehealth was swept away by necessity during the pandemic,” Hernán Galperin, the study’s lead researcher, said in a news release. “Now we’re seeing a seismic shift in the way people want to work, learn and manage health visits among those who have broadband access.”

Telework, telehealth and distance learning all skyrocketed during the pandemic. Approximately 55 percent of respondents have been working fully or partly at home, and just over half said they accessed telehealth by phone or computer. One-third of Californians age 18 and older said they’ve taken an online class or training.

Two-thirds say they’d like to continue distance learning, according to the study. That sentiment increased with respondents’ age.

As for accessing health care remotely, no region embraced telehealth as widely as Bay Area residents did, the study said. Almost 60 percent made use of it, leading other densely populated regions like Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire and Orange County.

Going forward, 70 percent of those who have used telehealth during the pandemic said they expected their medical-related vehicle trips to be cut at least in half, according to the study.

But as with other aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, racial, ethnic and income disparities exist. The gulf was particularly noteworthy with telehealth, which the study found was more commonly used among white and higher-income respondents than Hispanic, Asian and Black respondents. Approximately 56 percent of Hispanics reported no use of telehealth compared to 44 percent of non-Hispanics.

Disparities across income groups also arose with working from home. Just over 30 percent in the lowest income group reported working from home, the study found. The percentage rose with income brackets, reaching 60 percent for workers earning between $60,000 and $99,999, and topping 70 percent for survey respondents in the top income group.

(c)2021 The San Francisco Chronicle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.