What is the Future of Remote Work?

Even before Covid-19, the number of people working remotely was on the rise. The pandemic quickly increased the number of employees working from a home office around the globe. With the majority of workers now returning to work, the question of exactly who can permanently work from home day-in and day-out has emerged. 



The answer to this question has the power to change how people hire and how people choose to apply for jobs and may also affect the economy. If those in the tech industry can just as easily work from home, what does the future of Silicon Valley look like? How will this affect commuting patterns? What will we see it do to both commercial and residential real estate?



Remote Work in the Future



Technology is at the root of remote work but not all jobs can be done remotely. What we believe we will see is that jobs that have repetition may start to shift more toward remote work or being covered by technology. 



Jobs that are uniquely human, such as service-based jobs and those that require problem-solving abilities are unlikely to be replaced. Vanguard performed a study that organized jobs by breaking down the tasks it takes to complete the job. For instance, a bartender cannot mix drinks remotely and serve their clients, but perhaps data entry could be done from home, as could ordering. Each occupation in the Labor Department’s listing of occupations was scored on a 0-10 scale based on its ability to be done remotely. According to this, there are about 15% of U.S. jobs that can be done remotely, which would cover more than 20 million workers. 



Breaking it Down


While many jobs may be able to be done completely from a home office, others will find their best place somewhere in the middle. Workers may do their job from home for most of the time with some trips to the office. Some uniquely human tasks will be challenging with the home-based model; these include training, collaborations, and mentoring. The same is true of some aspects of customer service. Currently, the research indicates that neither remote nor office work of the past will be the future. Instead, the future is likely a hybrid model that combines the best of both worlds.