Remote Work as It Currently Stands
With the massive rise in telecommuting in 2020, it seems that businesses have shifted significantly to accommodate a new way to work. This adjustment has led to more companies offering the ability to work remotely more than ever before. In fact, as of 2020, 55% of all businesses across the globe allow for the option to telecommute. This influx of the ability to work remotely has also led to a similar influx of workers choosing that as an option. In fact, in a recent survey, just about 62% of all employees between the ages of 22 and 65 work remotely at least part of the time. These numbers are a significant portion of the workforce, which certainly gives part of the picture.
When considering remote work growth over a longer period, these numbers are even more impressive. Since 2010, the number of workers who telecommute at least once a week has increased by a staggering 400%. If given the choice, majority of workers would choose to work at least part-time from home for the rest of their careers. There could be many different unforeseen benefits to both the worker and the company as well. 30% of all employees have saved up to $5,000 a year by working from home. Alternatively, businesses can save up to $11,000 a year per employee who works at home half the time. It may also be beneficial to the actual work done as well, though this is less concrete, with 77% of workers self-reporting that they are more productive working from home instead of working in an office.
Potential Impacts and Consequences of Remote Work
Although it seems that a large scale transition to remote work seems inevitable, there can be drawbacks both at the individual and national levels. With the massive increase in working from home comes an equally large increase in the amount of personal internet usage and the need to bolster up internet capacities. At the individual level, this may come at the cost of the employee, with 75% of workers reporting that their companies will not compensate them for their internet use while working at home, despite a vast chunk of their internet usage deriving from company use. The increase in internet usage as a whole remains a very large issue, especially for many countries.
When considering how equipped a nation is at transitioning large sections of the workforce online as opposed to in-person, three basic principles must be looked at: the widespread use of online payment platforms, availability of digital platforms, and capability of broadband internet in handling surges in usage. Considering these three benchmarks, nations like the UK, Norway, South Korea, and the US have been highly rated in all three categories making them qualified on all fronts to handle large scale telecommuting. In contrast, India, Indonesia, and Chile are near the bottom of the list, having issues in all three qualities. This highlights how strict enforcement of social distancing measures during the pandemic can negatively affect a workforce while the nation is still trying to economically stay afloat. Essentially, if a nation is unprepared to handle widespread working from home, they can either let their economic systems suffer greatly or put large portions of their population at a higher risk of being infected with COVID-19.
In industrialized nations where internet usage and other necessary capabilities for remote work are readily available, remote workers have been leaving cities with high costs of living and relocating to more affordable locations such as small towns.
The massive insurgence of remote work in 2020 comes with a slew of both positive possibilities and largely negative consequences. With those who are equipped for it, working from home is a sustainable long term choice that could help save money for both the worker and employer as well as create a happier, more efficient workforce. For the unprepared nations, this could mean falling further behind the developed countries of the world in attempts to catch up or put workers at risk by ignoring it.
About the Author
Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.