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USC Survey Finds More Californians Want To Keep Working, Learning From Home After The Pandemic Ends

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Working from home could be one of the pandemic practices that's here to stay.

A new survey from USC and the California Emerging Technology Fund explored Californians feelings about remote work, remote learning and telehealth after more than a year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers say they have found hesitancy about each of these practices have been swept away.

"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. Those changes give us a real opportunity to cut congestion and carbon emissions," Hernan Galperin, the study's lead researcher and an associate professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said in a statement.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPT. 16: Ally Sillins works at her home in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. Sillins and Santosh Vadlamani have bucked the trend by purchasing a home in San Francisco. The median price of single-family homes sold in the Bay Area set a record in August, as people took advantage of low interest rates and traded up to bigger spaces. (Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

The survey found that 42% of current, full-time remote workers want to keep working from home. Another 21% who also want to keep working from home say they are willing to go into the office one or two days a week. However, 17% of those surveyed say they want to go back to their workplaces five days a week.

However, telecommuting was not evenly distributed among workers. People between 18 and 34 were found to be the least likely to be able to work from home, the perk was most available to people earning $60,000 or more a year. College-educated women were most likely to be able to work from home, according to the survey.

In distance learning, a third of Californians 18 or older said they took an online class or training during the pandemic. Two thirds of those surveyed said they would continue distance learning if they have the opportunity, with the likelihood increasing with age.

Use of telehealth during the pandemic also jumped, with just over half of respondents to the survey being able to access their healthcare by phone, smartphone or computer. However, usage was also uneven in this area -- people of color were less likely to use telehealth services, while seniors 65 and older used it the most, despite their lower levels of internet connectivity and tech savvy. The survey also found that Los Angeles County showed the lowest level of telehealth participation at 46%.

Wider adoption of telecommuting, telehealth and distance learning could drastically impact traffic across the state, the survey found. More than half expected to cut their commute at least once a week after the pandemic, while 70% of respondents who used telehealth services anticipate cutting their medical-related car trips by at least half after the pandemic.

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