Nearly two-thirds of parents would quit their job if their employer nixed remote work, the new survey shows. Here's why—and how employers and families can work together in a post-vaccination world.

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The pandemic has been stressful on just about everyone—but working parents, tasked with taking care of a family while holding a job in the same household, have had it particularly hard.

Still, working at home hasn't been entirely bad for parents, cutting time-consuming commutes and expensive childcare. And as vaccination rates rise and employers start discussions about returning to the office, working parents have a distinct response: not so fast.

A new poll by employment listing site FlexJobs revealed that 62 percent of parents would quit their jobs if they could not continue remote work. Roughly 61 percent of parents said they want to continue to work from home full-time, while 37 percent prefer a hybrid model.

They're even willing to sacrifice some perks for the chance to stay virtual, at least part-time, as the poll shows, with 23 percent of parents saying they'd be willing to give up vacation time to stay at home. Nearly 19 percent of respondents even said they'd be willing to take a pay cut.

mother holding baby while using laptop on color patterned background
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Getty (1)

Why? The biggest reason is still the risk of COVID-19—53 percent of parents surveyed say that the risk of exposure to the virus is their most significant worry about returning to the office. But there are other, more long-term concerns, as the poll reveals:

  • 49 percent of parents say childcare responsibilities are their biggest stressor about going back full-time.
  • 48 percent of parents are concerned they'll have less flexibility if they're forced to return to the office.
  • 46 percent of parents believe their work-life balance will suffer if remote work ends.

"Juggling babies at morning drop-off, virtual schooling, shedding tears in cars or on public transit, and faking smiles all to make an early meeting that could have been an email (or Zoom) is just no longer appealing," wrote Lauren McKinnon in a personal essay for workingmother.com.

That push to get back into the office may be troubling for a group hit hard economically and professionally by the pandemic. About 2.5 million women dropped out of the workforce in 2020, and things are still troubling: About 165,000 women 20 years or older dropped out of the labor force in April.

So, what can employers do? In her essay, McKinnon suggests that employers offer unlimited PTO, monthly stipends for apps like Headspace and BetterHelp, and embrace remote work would help working parents.

If you're hoping to continue to work from home, there are a few ways to pitch it to your employer:

  1. Come up with a proposal. Formalize your plan in writing and include clear reasons for why you can work from home successfully. 
  2. Address concerns. Though the past year has proven that we can be just as productive from home, your employer still may have concerns about making this a long-term solution. Try to get ahead of those concerns by putting bullet points, such as weekly face-to-face meetings and a daily email wrapping up the tasks you've completed, in your proposal.
  3. Share benefits to the company. You know how working from home would help you, but the company wants to know how it will help them. Try to give your boss at least three reasons why virtual work will make you a better employee. For example, maybe you'll be able to spend the time you would have been commuting on work for other projects.