The Future of Working Remotely

Amanda Luzzader

Not all jobs are well suited to working from home or remotely but the practice is not going away any time soon

According to a recent article published by small-business and freelancer banking site NorthOne, the statistics on Americans working remotely are quite dramatic. For example, remote work in the United States over the past 12 years has grown a whopping 159 percent. Fifty-eight percent of U.S. workers with jobs that lend themselves to remote work are presently working remotely to some extent. At the peak of the pandemic, that number was closer to 70 percent.

Not all jobs are well suited to working from home or remotely, of course. The Pew Research Center says about 60 percent of U.S. jobs must be conducted at the workplace. Workplace consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics also states that more than half of American jobs cannot be performed from home. However, as you might expect, opinions vary about who can and can’t work remotely–it just depends on if you ask employers or employees. For instance, a recent poll of employers indicated that 56 percent of U.S. workers currently hold positions that could involve at least some remote work. In another poll, 62 percent of workers said they thought they could do at least some of their work remotely.

The pandemic and the resulting shift to remote work has only made American workers more interested in working in their pajamas, and a report by job recruitment website Upwork indicates that if you’re one of the tens of millions of American workers who would like to work remotely in the future, your prospects look pretty good. This is especially true if you’re willing to work as a freelancer. Since the onset of the pandemic, more than half of businesses in the United States have increased their willingness to use remote freelancers, and 71 percent of hiring managers plan to maintain or increase their use of remote freelancers.

According to European real estate conglomerate Brel Forum, 82 percent of workers worldwide want to work remotely at least one day per week after the COVID-19 pandemic passes. Seventy-one percent of workers who had not worked from home before the pandemic would now like to work at least one day per week going forward. And 53 percent of workers worldwide said their productivity has not changed as a result of working from home, and nearly a quarter of them believed that their productivity has actually increased. (Interestingly, almost the same number of people said their productivity was negatively affected while working remotely.)

In an article from February 2022, an article from Pew Research Center states: “The impetus for working from home has shifted considerably since 2020. Today, more workers say they are doing this by choice rather than necessity.” The same article states that, among those who worked in a workplace before the pandemic, 61 percent say they’re now working remotely voluntarily. Only 38 percent are working remotely because their workplace is closed. During the early stages of the pandemic, almost the exact opposite was the case–64 percent of workers were working from home because their workplaces were closed, while only 36 percent of workers were doing so voluntarily.

The various polls and data strongly indicate that remote work is a genie that has been struggling to emerge from his bottle for many years. Even before the pandemic, surveys repeatedly showed that up to 80 percent of American workers expressed some desire for working at home, and some were even willing to accept cuts in pay for the privilege. According to Pew, there is even a small percentage of workers with jobs they know can’t be performed from home who nevertheless wish they could. It would appear the work-from-home genie is fully free now, and there’s no way to send him back into the bottle.

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