Minnesota ranks No. 9 in allowing people to work from home: Study

A woman attends an online meeting while wearing a blouse on top and sweatpants on the bottom. (Photo by Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images) (Photo by Annette Riedl/picture alliance via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Companies across Minnesota and beyond are choosing to allow employees to work remotely, which is signaling a long-term shift in where work is done in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) shows.

Minnesota ranks No. 9 in the United States when compared to other states for the prevalence of working from home, with 23.5% of workers working from home at least three days each week. The U.S. average for working from home is 20.1%.

Minnesota's work-from-home percentage is more than double North Dakota (10.2% — 47th in the U.S.) and nearly double South Dakota (12.6% — 44th in the U.S.). It's well ahead of Iowa (14.5% — 40th in the U.S.), Nebraska (16.2% — 34th in the U.S.), and Wisconsin (16.7% — 31st in the U.S.). 

"A really interesting outcome of our research into remote work trends was revealing just how much more Minnesota workers are able to work from home compared to workers in neighboring states," said DEED Regional Analysis & Outreach Manager Cameron Macht. "This could be due to multiple factors – from industry and occupation mix in Minnesota compared to surrounding states, the tightness of our labor market pushing more employers to offer this option, and other factors."

Minnesota's tight labor market has led to more companies being open to remote work, DEED says. The ability to work from home has become a recruitment factor for companies to fill open positions as workers seek flexibility in where they work, as well as work-life balance. 

"The ability to work from home several days a week or every day is really a big attraction point for many people looking for work now," said Gina Meixner, a career counselor at DEED's CareerForce office in Bloomington. "Nearly half those who have the opportunity to do so want to remain working from home at least part of their work week. 

"There's also an increase in interest among others who have not had the opportunity to work remotely, such as people currently working in-person jobs. Many people are willing to change careers to 'do anything' just for the chance to work from home. Wanting to avoid a commute, high gas prices and needing to address a lack of childcare are the biggest draws," Meixner adds.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped push employers to allow people to work from home suddenly, but some employers were already allowing this. 

DEED notes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of companies were allowing people to work remotely. In 2011, about 4.3% of workers in the United States reported working from home. About 5.2% of Minnesota's workers worked remotely in 2011, the 13th highest in the U.S. for remote work that year. 

Then by 2019, 5.7% of workers were remote, an increase of more than 3 million people. In Minnesota, 6.4% of workers were working from home.