Remote Work Projections Are on the Rise in U.S Managers Survey
(Bloomberg) -- An increasing number of U.S. professionals anticipate to be fully remote from an office in the next five years, signaling a permanent shift in the workplace and a greater use of freelancers by companies.
A survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers implies that 40.7 million Americans expect to be working remotely by 2026, or almost 28% of respondents, according to a report by online freelance company Upwork Inc. That’s 4.5 million more than in a previous poll in the third quarter of 2020 -- and about 21 million above prepandemic levels.
More than half of businesses say that remote work has increased their willingness to use freelancers, according to the new survey, conducted in June and July.
The results dovetail with other research showing that the pandemic has accelerated a shift to gig employment. There will be 86.5 million freelancers by 2027, making up 50% of the total workforce, according to Statista data.
The reliance on freelancers may further sever relationships between employers and workers, leading to profound shifts in the labor market. It will put some workers in a more precarious position in terms of job security -- and access to health care. For companies, it could mean more flexibility but also fewer loyal workers with long-term experience in their business.
A recent study by Microsoft Corp. found that remote work led to a decline in the amount of time its workers spent collaborating across internal departments.
Employees added connections within their existing groups, but sought out fewer new ones elsewhere in the company, Microsoft researchers wrote in a blog post.
The Upwork report comes to a different conclusion, finding that remote work has improved collaboration. The widespread use of video communication software such as Zoom over the past year and a half has made it easier for firms to hire outside workers to participate in projects, according to UpWork.
“Already, the data is showing spillovers in management practices and signs that businesses are increasingly able to collaborate with those outside the firm with greater ease,” Upwork’s chief economist, Adam Ozimek, said in the report. “While much remains to be seen, the case for remote work as a driver of productivity going forward is strong.”
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