Industry Insights

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Survey Results: WFH Preferences for Data Scientists, Data Engineers, & Researchers

February 22, 2021

This blog is contributed by the Burtch Works recruiting team.The topic that seems to be on everyone’s minds lately: what will the future of work look like? Will we abandon the 5-day commute forever for the comfort of a home office? Or will most offices eventually bounce back to the pre-pandemic approach?While we do make predictions every year, lately it’s been hard to look too far into the future! But we were very interested to ask the professionals in our network for their preferences, to see what approach most people would prefer.Recently we asked the Burtch Works network, including data scientists, analytics professionals, marketing researchers, and data engineers, to share their thoughts on working from home with us.

Working from Home vs. the Office: The Binary Option

When we were drafting the survey, we’d guessed that most respondents, if given the choice, would probably choose some sort of hybrid model with a mix of both WFH and office time.

So, we initially gave only two options: would you rather WFH or in the office?

We found that 72% of professionals would prefer to work entirely from home, versus 28% who would prefer to work entirely in the office, and these numbers were consistent across all the groups of professionals we surveyed.We then examined the analytics & data science responses by job level, which are the categorizations we use in our salary reports. These categories separate professionals by individual contributor vs. manager, and then further by years’ experience or management responsibility.

Interestingly, we found that the group who had the highest number of professionals wanting to be in the office, 40%, was IC-1, which is professionals who are in the first 1-3 years of their career. This enthusiasm for office life could be a result of the social cohesion and perks that appeal to younger professionals: seeing their work friends, free food, happy hours, etc.However, we also think that onboarding and remote learning/training can be more challenging for those who are less established at their workplace, and working from home doesn’t offer as many opportunities to be mentored or build your social and professional networks.Those at MG-2, which is usually those at the Director/Senior Director level, were another group that were more likely to favor being in the office at 36%. In contrast, when we look at MG-1 (lower level managers) this is the group who are the least likely to want to be in the office at 10%.This may be a result of the family life stage that someone may be at in this stage of their career, so they may favor more time at home and flexibility. We also know from our previous survey that the appeal of flexible/remote work options can increase greatly depending on someone’s years of work experience (which can be somewhat related to family life stage).

The WFH/Office Hybrid Model: Preferred Number of Days in the Office

Our second question delved further into how many days, if someone had complete freedom to choose, they would want to be in the office. Our thinking was that many employers would really interested to see this breakdown as they evaluate their office/WFH approaches after pandemic restrictions have been completely lifted!

Here we found that the largest segment of respondents, 34%, would prefer to be in the office two days a week, followed in popularity by 24% of the sample who preferred 3 days. Only a very small percentage said they’d prefer to be in the office four or five days (6% and 2% respectively).

We also examined the average number of days preferred for each group, to see if there would be any noticeable differences between them:

Analytics & data science professionals: 1.94 daysMarketing research & consumer insights professionals: 1.95Data engineers: 1.95Remarkably, all three groups were the same, so it seems we can now say that two days in the office is likely to be popular with the greatest number of people!What do you think of these results and do they line up with your expectations? We’re always looking for new topics to delve into with our hiring market research, so let us know if there’s a topic you’re hearing a lot about. Looking for new opportunities? Click here to view our active job openings that we would love to discuss with you in more detail. You can also submit your resume here. Looking to find talent? Want to talk hiring strategy and see how the Burtch Works team can help your team? Click here to get in touch with us.