The pandemic caused certain industries and trends to grow in completely unpredictable ways. Remote work booming is not one of these cases. Remote work growing in popularity was a reaction to the fact that people couldn’t work physically. Yet what remote work has come to represent is much more than that initial cause.
Today, remote work offers several distinct advantages that can be extremely appealing. This is reflected in the sentiments of workers today. In 2023, 98% of people want to work remotely at least some of the time. Simultaneously and surprisingly, the percentage of remote workers has been dropping steadily since 2020.
These contrasting statistics represent the contemporary debate around remote work. For employees the advantages are clear. The commute no longer exists, saving money and time everyday. There’s more freedom around clothing, lunches, and social interaction. And there’s more flexibility in what one does with their time generally.
Even for employers there are distinct advantages, employees show up more and even tend to be more productive. So what’s the downside? Well there are two major detractors from the appeal of remote work. First, employers today are worried that remote workers won’t do their work as they cannot be properly managed.
Today there are platforms used by workplaces to keep people connected, but it’s undeniably different from physical interaction. Managers and team leaders simply have a harder time connecting with employees digitally. This is an issue that will be slowly alleviated as technology evolves, but it can never be completely fixed.
And second, many businesses have dedicated office spaces that they’ve already invested into. For a business that is struggling, all the employees working remotely makes it easy to downsize and layoff employees. If people have to come in this will put more of a burden on employees, but it will also show who’s truly dedicated.
Overall it seems that remote work presents far more of a positive than negative, but it’s still trending down towards equilibrium. The interesting question is what happens when remote work stabilizes and then continues to improve. Regardless, the position of remote work post-pandemic is clear. It’s here to stay, even if it’s not nearly as popular as COVID helped it be.