Remote work and work from home job opportunities are not going away. They are here to stay, so it’s critically important to understand how to learn about it.
In this article, you’ll learn data about job seekers’ preferences when it comes to remote work. This includes surveys, reports, and statistics to back up why remote work is a trend worth adopting.
- Positive Trends & Stats
- Negative Trends & Stats
The Rapid Evolution of Remote Work
The possibility for Remote Work was first conceptualized in the 1980’s, started to become a possibility in the 1990’s and 2000’s. In the 2010’s, trendy companies moved to 100% remote work. Now Remote Work is ready to go mainstream.
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic many companies, managers and employees were reluctant to embrace Remote Work as a viable option.
At the start of the pandemic only 5.6% of companies supported remote work (GWA – Fact Check). But by the end of 2021, GWA estimates that 25% to 35% of all US workers will be remote at least part of the week.
We learned some important things during COVID:
1. Workplace collaboration tools are ready for prime time
While Zoom video conferencing took center stage — it isn’t just about video conferencing. A major advancement has been shared calendars, file syncing, and web applications made transitioning to remote work far easier than when people tried Remote Work in the past.
All that is left is for everyone to develop the skills to be their own tech support.
2. Managers are More Important Than Ever
When everyone had to go remote, both managers and employees realized that we need to support the whole person and not just the work person.
Deloitte has gone so far as declaring “Work/Life Balance” over, and that it is now about employees overall well-being.
3. Increased Focus on Outcomes & Skills
Companies are realizing that they can hire anywhere in the world. This is supporting them to seek more and differentiated skills — this was a trend before the Pandemic. In 2020 job ads contained 33% more skill than they did in 2017 (Gartner).
I estimate that this will cause companies to hire more consultants, temps, and gig workers. Once you realize you can hire people anywhere, your desire for skills will just keep growing.
4. Overwork, Productivity & Vacation
In addition we have discovered that when people work from home that they tend to work more, that productivity increases, and employees need more time-off and new ways to get them to take time off.
Studies and empirical evidence shows productivity increases between 15 and 55% for remote workers. Some of this is from fewer distractions, ability to focus, etc. Some of this is also that remote workers work more and take fewer vacation days.
This later point is why managers and some companies are imposing team vacation days, social pressures to take time off, etc.
The thing that makes me most excited about remote work, is that it is self-reinforcing. The more people that work remotely: the easier it is for others.
Plus, once someone goes remote they tend to not want to return to 100% onsite. Buffer reports that 90% of people that try remote work, envision working remotely for the rest of their careers (Buffer).
And the momentum is going to have a big impact: 56% of American workers have a job that can be done remotely at least some of the time (GWA).
Work from Home Trends
COVID forced us to overcome many of the hurdles to remote work:
- Technologies had to be upgraded — eliminating the last hold outs
- We had to create workspaces in our homes — even if it crowded the dinner table
Now that we have been forced to adapt, when finding their next job 86% of the US workforce will look for a company that offers Remote Work.
Working remotely also changes what people want from jobs:
People have realized that they can do at least some of their job remotely. Now they want responsibility for determining where work should happen.
In the future, it will be common for people to save technical or creative tasks for home — where they can work uninterrupted.
With Remote Work came late nights, early mornings, and having to break for errands. Now people expect the freedom to determine when work should happen. I see more workplaces shifting emphasis from being present to providing deliverables.
Well-Being & Mental Health
This was a trend before COVID, but managers have realized how important it is to manage the whole person. Society has been destigmatizing mental healthcare, and now companies are following.
Team Vacation Time
Before the 1900’s, the “weekend” wasn’t a concept. The weekend is essentially a group vacation: when workers can rest and reset without guilt.
However, with the long hours associated with Remote Work, companies are finding the need to create more group holidays — allowing employees to rest and reset without guilt.
Companies like Google are going so far as to turnoff email and exert social pressure on employees that work when they are supposed to be offline. In the future, more companies will create programs like Summer Fridays to encourage employees to rest.
Remote Work is making skilled managers a benefit. Technology has been increase the value of quality managers for companies. Now, Remote Work is increasing the value of quality managers for employees.
It takes more skill to overcome distance, communicate clearly, and keep people motivated and productive. A lot of managers will struggle, because in a remote workplace they can’t rely on intuition and walking around.
Tech, Tools & Support
People will want to work for companies that are Remote First. People will want to work for a company that has the software and provides the hardware to be productive, flexible, and work from anywhere. Companies will provide more laptops, provide allowances for Internet Access, and home office upgrades.
Support for Families
When you home is also your office, you are closer to your family. Companies will work hard to keep people productive by providing support for the whole family — across generations.
Paternity Leave and Paid Maternity Leave were becoming popular before the Pandemic, and now employees will expect even more support for their families.
Remote Work has the potential to help us improve matching in the workplace. Gallup finds that 68% of employee believe they are overqualified for their current job, meaning they have more education than what’s required for their current job (Gallup State of American Work, 2017).
Remote Work also has the potential to help increase labor force participation. According to the U.S. Buereau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of US adults that has a full-time job is 48% — the lowest full-time employment level since 1983 (Gallup, State of American Work 2017).
Remote Work is poised to help more people find work they are passionate about, and make work more productive, and help spread jobs to more locations. However, we need to make sure remote work doesn’t only benefit high skill workers.
We need entrepreneurial imagination to make sure that every underemployed American can find a great job — I hope remotely.