It’s no startling revelation that the pandemic has changed the nature of work. It upended education at all levels, including several top-ranked universities that quickly pivoted to remote learning at the start of the pandemic again this month in the wake of the Omicron variant. Everyone – from elementary students to business executives – added Zoom to our everyday vocabularies. And in our personal lives, we learned to appreciate staying in, baking bread, and the feel of our soft pants.
Why would we think our work lives would be any different?
Not that you need any more proof that the pandemic has changed the nature of work, new data from Ladders, Inc. shows that the changes are coming quicker than expected and are likely long lasting. The Ladders Quarterly Remote Work Report, released this week, shows that 18% of all professional jobs are now remote.
“This life-changing shift to remote work is progressing even more rapidly than anyone thought it would,” says Ladders, Inc. CEO Marc Cenedella who led the research. “Another 3 million jobs moved to being permanently remote in Q4 2021. The accelerating change to permanent remote now means that over 20 million professional jobs will not be going back to the office after COVID.”
JOBS WITH THE MOST REMOTE WORK OPTIONS
Ladders, a career site for jobs paying $100,000 or more, has been tracking remote work since the pandemic began. This summer, it released data from the top 50,000 North American employers showing that while there were just over 7,000 high-paying remote positions in March 2020, there were more than 80,000 by July 2021. Remote positions in marketing, media and design shot up 974% in that period while rising 801% in project management and 750% in finance.
In its latest research, Ladders identified 10 job titles with the most remote work opportunities for high-salaried employees:
- Senior Software Engineer
- Software Engineer
- Account Executive
- Enterprise Account Executive
- Product Manager
- Senior Product Manager
- DevOps Engineer
- Data Engineer
- Project Manager
- Product Marketing Manager
Before the pandemic, about 4% of high-paying jobs with salaries over $100,000 were remote, according to Ladders research. That number jumped to 9% by the end of 2020 and to nearly 1 in 5 by the end of 2021. Cenedella believes more than a quarter of all high-paying jobs will be available remotely by the end of 2022.
COMPANIES ARE ‘FOOLING THEMSELVES’ IF THEY EXPECT A RETURN TO OFFICE
“They are fooling themselves,” Cendella says of companies expecting workers to return to offices after the pandemic is over – especially workers with tech and organizational skills that are well suited for remote work.
“Even companies predicting mass returns to in-office work are hiring remote workers right now. Those workers will not be willing to take on a commute and pivot to in-office work,” Canedella says.
The market is already responding to remote work, coming up with innovations that make home offices even more convenient. For example, this spring two Cornell Tech MBAs launched Tangle, an AI-powered virtual workspace that can detect when you are talking to your remote team (and to whom), or when you are talking to someone in your kitchen, without pushing a button or opening a tab. It’s meant to mimic quick office encounters when coworkers would, say, ask a quick question or have a document explained to them without all the extra steps of setting a formal meeting.
‘LARGEST CHANGE IN AMERICAN WORK SINCE WORLD WAR II’
“This is an underlying permanent shift that people are not taking seriously enough,” said Cenedella. “It’s the largest change in American working and living arrangements since World War Two. Since people can work from anywhere, they can live anywhere, which will have a fundamental long-term impact on everything from who is on the local PTA to who is running our local towns to how and where we live.”
And yet, some companies are dragging their feet in adopting permanent remote work models. Before Delta and Omicron, many called workers back to the office only to delay their return-to-work plans or to send workers home again as the variants surged.
Which begs the question: Why are some companies reluctant to pivot to remote work on a permanent basis?
Cenedella thinks he knows: “The reason so many companies are insisting the in-office model will prevail is because of their real estate interests. Large companies have invested trillions of dollars in real estate that they don’t want to see wasted.”