I spoke with the Wall Street Journal on the continued growth in remote job listings last weekend. Far from slowing down, the trend toward companies hiring remote for full-time roles continues to pick up speed.Before the pandemic, about 4% of all high-end job postings were for remote positions. Typically, those were jobs in enterprise sales or technology – two fields that had long adapted to working from a home office.

Surprisingly, the percentage of job listings for remote roles dipped early in the pandemic, dropping to just over 2% during Q2 of 2020, as can be seen in the Ladders, Inc. graphic run in the WSJ above.

“Remote job listings in the U.S. with salaries topping $80,000 reached about 15% of all job listings in the third quarter of this year, up from about 13% in the prior quarter and 4% in late 2019, before the pandemic started, according to Ladders Inc.

“‘This is a real, structural permanent change in the American workforce,’ said Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella.”

The types of jobs that are hiring for remote have changed as well. Positions previously seen as headquarters jobs – accounting, legal, project and program management – have all seen 1,000%+ growth in remote hiring.

Industries that would not seem to lend themselves to remote working, have also seen 1,000%+ increases in remote job listings: Aerospace; Education, Government and Non-profit; and even Hospitals and Medical Centers.

Remote work is getting more popular with companies, not less, as the pandemic rolls on.  The last time I covered this topic with WSJ in June, the lure of remote work had obvious benefits for professionals, but employers were still wary.

So the data showing an increase in work-from-anywhere job openings in Q3 2021 was unexpected.  No one in our society thought it possible that we could continue this long, this effectively, while working from home.  And no one predicted that it would increasingly become the default, not merely an option.

In a way, the past 18 months have been a large public experiment, during which we answered the question: “Can we be productive working from home?”

The answer, in the form of corporate profits, stock market returns, and personal productivity, has been a resounding “yes”.  
During the pandemic, we’ve found ways to be effective working remotely, and have been able to keep the economy running just fine from our home offices.

Without the commute, we have more time and energy to invest into the solutions to problems.

Without the need for corporate facetime, we’ve given up activities that were good for office politics but not good for business.
We’ve been forced to measure output, and to manage output note facetime, and that has led to a more effective workforce without the need to be in a conference room together.

At the same time, we’ve run a second experiment to answer the question: “Do we like working from home?”
Again, the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Without the commute that takes hours out of a week, we’ve found ways to be closer to our families and our personal lives.
Without the distractions of the corporate office, we’ve been able to turn our work hours toward more focused, more productive work activities.

And with Zoom fatigue forcing a limit on meetings, wasting time to put in an appearance has, thankfully, become less necessary.

The result is that we are experiencing the largest change in American working habits since World War II.  If anything, the move to remote work is under-hyped.
Just as the implications of the post-war advances in technology and society couldn’t have been predicted in the years immediately following 1945, the impact and long-term changes that will result from the pandemic can’t be guessed at.
The rise of the automobile and the interstate highway system led to the modern commute, suburbs, supermarkets, rush hour traffic jams and drive time radio.

We can’t predict how far-reaching the changes from “work from home” and “work from anywhere” will be.
With high-earning professional jobs no longer locked into the major cities, what will happen when those professionals relocate to small-town America? What will happen to the school boards, and cultural happenings, and civic life of middle America as its population swells with professionals untethered from the metropolises?
With distributed teams more common, and at least one remote colleague on every team, how will work schedules, meeting frequency, and corporate culture be changed?

What will happen to high-tax states when the high-price jobs can move over the state border? Or the international border?
And while companies are currently making noises that the pay differentials for living in a small city will remain, how long can that stay true? After all, the price of a thing isn’t determined by a buyer’s hope that it stays low. The price of a thing is determined by market value.

And if the market value of that thing is the same whether the work is done in Boise, Birmingham and Buffalo, or it’s done in larger cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, the prices paid to those workers will eventually even out.
The question for you to ponder is what changes will permanent remote bring to you? Would you move closer to family, to the beach, to the mountains? Would your career choices change? Would your career opportunities blossom? Would you make different choices?

For all of us, the questions, and answers, lie in the exciting future ahead.

By Marc Cenedella

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