The office is closing.
3 million jobs went permanently remote in past 3 months
I was surprised when we released our Ladders Quarterly Remote Work Report last week.
Two years into the pandemic, I expected the growth rate in remote work would slow down. Or at least level out.
Instead, we found that 3 million additional jobs went permanently remote in Q4 2021. That’s up from 2 million jobs that went remote in Q3.
The trend is accelerating, not slowing down, and that has huge implications for all of us.
As of Q4 2021, 17 million professional jobs in the US are now permanently remote. That’s up from 14 million in Q3 2021, and about 3 million prior to the pandemic.
Overall, permanently remote jobs are now 18% of the US professional workforce, up from 15% in Q3, 13% in Q2, and 3% before the pandemic. (I should note this data comes from a comprehensive inventory of jobs, not a sample. Ladders’ staff and technology actually visit and record the data from each company’s career site, and tag it according to our proprietary taxonomy. This unique and proprietary data is expensive to collect, clean, and augment, but that’s how we deliver our product to users at Ladders, and that’s how we can be confident of the data.)
I’ve previously predicted that 25% of all professional jobs will be remote by the end of 2022. It now looks like it may happen sooner than that.
The shift to working remotely is large, permanent, and picking up speed. I’ve been in the jobs industry since 2000. We have never seen a change in professional jobs and hiring as fast as this shift to remote hiring. When things have changed in the past, they tend to move at the rate of a few percentage points in a decade.
This move to remote work is permanent. Once a company has hired dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people outside of its offices, they can’t easily change their minds and go back. It’s a one-way street, like cracking an egg. Undoing these decisions would be painful, expensive and demoralizing.
And the transition to remote is picking up speed because of the nature of hiring. Time-to-hire and quality of hire are how HR departments are measured. Once management opened the floodgates on remote hiring, HR rushed through. Why restrict yourself to hiring in just one city representing less than 1% of the talent in the country? It’s easier and faster and higher quality to hire from anywhere. Remote hiring has been a godsend for HR.
For these reasons and more, remote hiring is rapidly becoming standardized in Corporate America.
Many think that we’ll soon return to the way things were, pre-pandemic. That’s wishful thinking. Pre-pandemic, all of the incentives were lined up to resist remote work. And the data supported this view. As I discuss below, in the pandemic we’ve run two large experiments that were extremely successful in changing those preferences and incentives.
The impact of the remote revolution on American life is under-hyped and under-appreciated. As a nation, we are now committed to a permanently remote workforce. We can’t go back and we won’t want to. This dramatic change will have a profound impact on careers, families and communities for decades to come.
Below, I share details on the specific changes in the growth of remote work for 73 professional segments and 22 industries, and discuss our methodology. It’s no surprise that the technology industry is a leader in remote employment, but it was amazing to see Legal & Accounting, Media, and Education, Government & Non-Profit, among others, adopt remote as quickly as they have.
If you’re interested in the data, have a look!
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