Will Remote Workforces Become “The Norm” In The Future?
Ever since the advent of the internet more and more employees have been able to effectively perform their work duties remotely from the comfort of either their own homes, their local coffee shops or wherever they can find a stable Wi-Fi connection! But could the mobilisation of remote workforces soon become “The norm”?
Back in 2019, the number of employees leaving their offices behind to work from home was already in the ascendency. According to Global Workplace Analytics, the number of remote workers has risen by 159% over the last 12 years alone. Pre-Pandemic figures show that nearly a third of the American workforce were already working remotely in 2019 thanks to advancements in the internet (NTIA).
However, the events that unfolded last year (2020) would kick this steady growth in the number of remote workers into overdrive. With many employers forced to adapt to a growing pandemic, an unprecedented number of employees were sent home to create emergency Remote Workforces.
For many employees this would be their first taste of working from home. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, sources suggest that 58.6% of the US workforce were operating out of their homes (NorthOne).
Looking ahead to the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, intriguing data gathered by the Gartner CFO Survey suggests that the rapid growth of remote workforces may be set to continue. The survey found that 74% of employers intend to ‘permanently shift employees to remote work’ once we emerge from the global pandemic. Whether this will entail mobilising a fully remote workforce as was seen in 2020 or giving employees the option to split their time between home and the office remains to be seen.
Interestingly, the shift in the way companies deploy their workforce was already underway even before the pandemic. Vox.com claimed back in October of 2019 that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will be taking at least 5 days a month to work remotely.
Did you know that, in the United States, 16% of companies are already operating with a fully remote workforce? Of course, not all companies are either willing or able to mobilise remote workforces. Studies completed this year found 44% of companies in the United States do not allow their workers to work remotely. This figure of 44% already constitutes a minority of employers, suggesting that most American companies have already began to mobilise a fully or semi remote workforce.
Indeed, when recently polled, 85% of Managers in a TECLA study said they believed that having remote workers in their team will become the new normal. This enormous shift in workforce mobilisation looks set to have enormous consequences upon both employers and their employees.
The Covid-19 pandemic gave so many their first taste of remote work and the flexibility that comes with it. And it is flexibility which remote workers appear to value the most, a recent survey of remote workers revealed that 32% of remote workers in 2021 place flexibility as the greatest benefit of remote working. The ability to take your work anywhere was revealed to be the second most popular benefit (25%).
Buffer’s survey produced some fascinating findings, 97.6% of those polled stated they would like to work remotely (at least some of the time) in the future. An overwhelming consensus.
“97.6% of those polled stated they would like to work remotely (at least some of the time) in the future.”
Buffer’s survey also revealed that a mere 2.4% wished to remain purely in the office without the option to work remotely. But what does this data mean for employers?
Primarily, from a recruitment perspective, top talent looking for new job opportunities will likely favour companies which match their remote working preferences. In other words, companies that do not offer remote working may be overtaken by their more flexible/remote-ready competition.
Offering remote working as an option for employees is becoming more and more of a necessity for employers. So when considering the question, will remote workforces become “the norm” in the future? Based on the current data, It seems that it is only a matter of time. The mobilisation of the remote workforces is already well underway and a future where most employees split their time between home and the office is inevitable.