Back in 2019, the number of employees leaving 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 was already working remotely in 2019 thanks to advancements in the internet (NTIA.com).
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.
Many employees are experiencing working from home for the first time. During the Covid 19 pandemic, sources say 58.6% of the US are not working from home (NorthOne.com).
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 everyone emerges from the global pandemic. Whether this will entail mobilising a fully remote workforce as was seen in 2020 or giving employees the option to alternate between home and the office remains to be seen.
Interestingly, the shift in how companies use labour was already underway before the pandemic. Vox.com claimed back in October 2019 that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least 5 days a month.
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 workers to work remotely. This figure of 44% already constitutes a minority of employers, suggesting that most American companies have already begun to mobilise a fully or semi-remote workforce.
Indeed, when recently polled, 85% of Managers in a TECLA.io study believed that having remote workers in teams will become the new normal. This enormous shift in workforce mobilisation looks set to have enormous consequences upon both employers and employees.
The Covid-19 pandemic gave so many office employees a 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, conducted by Buffer.com, revealed that 32% of remote workers in 2021 place flexibility as the greatest benefit of remote working. The ability to take work anywhere was revealed to be the second most popular benefit (25%).
Buffer’s survey produced some fascinating findings, 97.6% prefer to work remotely (at least some of the time) in the future. An overwhelming consensus.
“97.6% prefer 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 that match remote working preferences. In other words, companies that do not offer remote working may be overtaken by 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 are taking turns between home and the office is inevitable.
This analysis was conducted by Atrium HR Consulting, an Alliance Group Company, whose aim is to provide exceptional support for multinational corporations. Operating in over 180 countries, Atrium’s ethos is to ‘put people at the heart’ of business and in return, everyone can get the very best results. Atrium’s services are used and trusted by more than 25% of the fortune global 500.
Visit www.atriumhr.com to discover how Atrium HR Consulting can support every organisation’s working from home processes.