Remote Work Is Here to Stay and That’s a Good Thing
Since the beginning of the pandemic, businesses able to shift their employees to remote work have done so with varying degrees of eagerness. Telecommuting became a lifeline for operations that were resistant to work-from-anywhere arrangements in the past but found them to be the only way to continue operating amidst lockdown orders and public fear of infection. But will the changes stick for the long term? Or will workplaces revert to their pre-pandemic forms?
It’s looking more and more like there’s no reason for some of us to change out of pajamas; the evidence suggests that remote work has been a boon for many people and is here to stay. That has big implications for expanding people’s choices about where they live and why. But it may also widen the divide between those can work where they live and those who must live where they work.
“More than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office,” the U.S.-based consulting firm McKinsey & Company reported in November of an analysis of the workforces in nine countries (China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States). “If remote work took hold at that level, that would mean three to four times as many people working from home than before the pandemic and would have a profound impact on urban economies, transportation, and consumer spending, among other things.”
Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute (BFI) agree that remote work has gained a larger permanent presence in our lives.
“Our survey evidence says that 22 percent of all full work days will be supplied from home after the pandemic ends, compared with just 5 percent before,” Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, and Steven J. Davis report in a working paper based on data drawn from 15,000 Americans.
Part of the stickiness of remote work arrangements may be that their time ha
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