Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of the American workforce ( ) has shifted to working from home. The initial assumption among employers and employees alike was that physical offices would return as a normal part of the working environment once public health guidance permitted.

Over a year into the pandemic and on the cusp of a fourth wave, however, a return to the office anytime soon feels elusive. Today some workers are reluctant to return to the office and plan to continue to work remotely even after physical distancing measures are lifted. If this comes to pass, it could deepen patterns of inequality in America's economic and societal recovery, since the ability to work from home—and in turn reduce the risks of exposure to COVID-19—differs substantially along lines of age, gender, class, race, and urban–rural disparities in American society. Policymakers, employers, and the public should consider taking steps now to ensure that the future of remote work is beneficial for all.

Remote work has introduced massive shifts within the American workforce that are reinforcing preexisting inequalities. Consider the following examples. The burden of balancing work responsibilities, childcare, virtual schooling, and housework is falling disproportionately on working mothers, leading some observers to argue that the United States is in the midst of a “She-cession,” in which unprecedented rates of women are dropping out of the labor force.

Read the full article about working from home by Kathryn E. Bouskill and Scott W. Harold at RAND Corporation.