How you feel about working remotely probably has a lot to do with your role. Employees apparently prefer being remote, or at least a hybrid role according to a recent study that shows “…an overwhelming 98% of respondents expressed a desire to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. […] the appeal of remote work is catching on, with 87% of workers embracing flexible work arrangements when given the opportunity. In fact, most employees’ ideal work arrangement is 100% remote.” [See source.]
However, several large companies (e.g., BlackRock, Lyft, Amazon, and X (formerly Twitter) have recently mandated an at least partial return to the office. Why? Three possible reasons include preparation for downsizing, belief in better collaboration face to face, and fundamental management paranoia about what employees are actually doing. [See source.] Indeed, it must be odd to look out at all those empty workstations and wonder what’s going on.
In the US, “Currently, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home […and] 28.2% of employees have adapted to a hybrid work model.” Still, on average some 59.1% of relevant employees work in an office. One source forecasts that by 2025, 32.6 million Americans will be working remotely—about 22% of the relevant workforce. [See source.] The Harvard Business Review cites a monthly survey1 of senior executives at roughly 500 U.S. businesses across industries and regions whose management expects fully remote and hybrid work locations to comprise 28% of full-time employment by 2028. [See source.]
What about executives and in particular the C-Suite? Can they work remotely, too? Here’s what CEO magazine has to say: “In the traditional corporate setting, the image of a CEO is often associated with a corner office on the top floor of a bustling corporate building. However, the recent wave of digital transformation and the impact of global situations like the COVID-19 pandemic have challenged and reshaped this norm. Today, the concept of a remote CEO is not only conceivable but increasingly prevalent.” [See source.]
Specifically, here at the Barrett Group as part of the Autumn Avalanche we have seen 20% of our clients landing hybrid and/or remote executive positions in the first half of 2023 with a slight uptick to 22% in the third quarter, so, as usual, we are probably ahead of the curve.
Explanations for this trend include the flexibility, autonomy, and better work-life balance that remote work potentially offers the employee, as well as indications that these may lead to enhanced productivity [See source.]. The time saving from not having to commute to and from the office is another big plus, and there are apparently numerous cost savings available to employers in migrating toward remote work [See source.]. However, so far only 16% of companies currently operate fully remotely (one of which is the Barrett Group—since 2017 in fact and way ahead of the current trend!). “These companies are pioneers in the remote work paradigm, highlighting the feasibility of such models and paving the way for others to follow.” [See source.]
So where and how you work has now become a routine part of the offer negotiation when considering a career change. “Knowing when and how to raise this key point is critical. Most candidates introduce this topic way too early and lose leverage in their offer negotiation discussions,” says Dan Resendes, career change veteran at the Barrett Group.
Grindr is a case in point where 45% of the employees recently quit rather than return to the office. [See source.]
One of the unfortunate victims of the migration toward remote work is the office building and, by extension, the commercial real estate industry. Globally from Q2 2022 to Q2 2023, office utilization2 fell to 35% (31% Americas, 36% EMEA)—down 45% from the pre-pandemic global average of 64%. [See source.] The decline was most significant in the Technology, Media & Telecom sectors, though Life Sciences, Industrial & Logistics, and even Legal & Professional Services all remain well below pre-pandemic levels.
Within the remote model, the isolation some employees feel, the risk of distraction, poor time management, and lack of structure, [See source.] though, frankly, none of these is truly unique to working remotely as it is still perfectly possible to be distracted while in the office, for example. Still, the increased risk of cybersecurity threats is probably real in a remote work environment and must be adequately mitigated.
“A remarkable 93% of employers plan to continue conducting job interviews remotely […]. This indicates a willingness to adapt to virtual methods and signals the recognition of remote work as a sustainable option.” [See source.]
From an industrial perspective, Information Technology, Marketing, Accounting and Finance, Project Management, Medical and Health, HR and Recruiting, and Customer Service seem to be some of the fastest adopters of remote working practices. Employees aged 24 to 35 represent the age cohort with the highest remote work acceptance, and the trend suggests future generations of younger employees will also tend to prefer remote options. Even education plays a role: those having more college education tend to prefer remote work. [See source.]
One enabler of the shift to remote work is undoubtedly artificial intelligence (AI) that on the one hand automates administrative tasks as well as offering better or at least faster pattern recognition in masses of data, enhanced cybersecurity, and overall, an increase in efficiency with the potential downsides of potentially deepening feelings of isolation, eroding the human touch, and even creating new security risks of its own. As LinkedIn puts it, “AI has brought about significant changes in remote work, presenting both upsides and downsides. As we continue to navigate this new landscape, it’s crucial to harness the benefits of AI while addressing its challenges to create a future of work that is efficient, sustainable, and human-centric.” [See source.]
Why not turn that daydream of a remote career into a (virtual) reality? Let’s talk!
Peter Irish, CEO
The Barrett Group
1) The Survey of Business Uncertainty is jointly run monthly by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, the University of Chicago, and Stanford University.
2) Utilization Rate: “The number of people using a space over a period of time divided by the capacity of the space.” [See source.]