So many of us have gotten used to our work “commute” consisting of a few steps to wherever our computer is set up that it’s strange to imagine a future that includes going back into the office full time. Thankfully, if you have the privilege of living in Houston, you’re in one of the best states to keep working from home and continue to expand your loungewear collection.
A new study by WalletHub ranks Texas as one of the best states in the nation to work from home, reflecting the quickly evolving post-pandemic world. Texas scored seventh highest on the list, affirming that The Lone Star State is a great place to reside if you like doing work in your PJs or your pet is your preferred office mate. Plus, who doesn’t love being able to use their own bathroom?
As economics professor Robert J. Gitter told WalletHub regarding the study, “The genie is not going back into the bottle and we will not be returning to a world of almost exclusive work away from home.”
After the initial panic that followed the first significant outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, employers scrambled to find ways to maintain operations while keeping employees safe. Remote work became the norm, with many companies opting for tasks to be completed from home and for meetings to be held virtually via software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The New York Times reported that in 2019, around 4 percent of employed people worked remotely, but just a year later, that figure had grown to 43 percent.
The study compared all 50 states and Washington, DC, to find out where in the United States is best for working from home. The study considered two dimensions: work environment and living environment. The work environment is measured by the number of total work-from-home employees, the potential of telecommuters, the rate of household internet access, and cybersecurity. The living environment is measured by the price of electricity, access to low-priced internet, average home square footage, and the average number of household residents.
Though Texas ranked seventh overall, it scored first for the best living environment, with the most favorable average square footage and affordable internet access. Beyond that, more and more Texas companies are transitioning to hybrid approaches and reconsidering whether the traditional five-day workweek is sustainable. One of Houston’s largest employers, Chevron, now allows workers two days of remote work a week.
Our state’s diversity may also have an impact on changing work conditions. Future Forum, a research group backed by Slack, found that women and people of color are more likely to find remote work beneficial than are their white male counterparts. The proof is in the pudding: the study showed that a sense of belonging at work increased for 24 percent of Black nonmanual workers. With Texas being one of the most diverse states in the country, it makes sense that remote work is flourishing here. Also, working remotely has apparent benefits for people with a disability or chronic illness.
Now that the future of office culture has changed irreversibly, more people will be looking for flexibility and remote options during their job search.
“It seems like more and more companies (and employees) are realizing and recognizing the benefits of providing employees with more flexibility to work from home, no doubt facilitated by the necessity of offering these options during the thick of the pandemic,” Kristen Jones, PhD, Interim Director for The Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion at The University of Memphis Department of Management, told Wallet Hub. “I would guess that companies will continue to offer this flexibility if they can do so, and employees will likely continue to take advantage of it.”
It’s been proven that remote workers have higher productivity, engagement, performance, and retention rates than people who work in the office. As society reconsiders what full-time professional work can look like, we can better prioritize healthier work-life balance, giving us more time to enjoy life.
Overall, remote work can be added to the list of all the compelling reasons to reside in Texas. In a city like Houston, where the culture is diverse and the excitement never-ending, who wouldn’t want more time?