The working-from-home revolution is profound but over-played
This blog has a meta-message: please, please, please, when making decisions for your organisation (or country), do not extrapolate from yourself. I might write a whole blog one day about the situations in which such extrapolation has resulted in huge wasted effort, or worse. However, today’s blog is about remote work.
Most of you reading this will be professionals who shifted to home working as the pandemic took hold. Please remember that you are in the minority. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s analysis, perhaps 20–25% of jobs in developed economies can be reasonably done remotely for 3–5 days per week. The UK is towards the higher end of this, but even if a third of jobs could be done remotely, that still leaves another 70% that can’t.
Moreover, looking at the data (#dataisbeautiful), many employers are not at all sure they will want to include remote work as a part of their business model once the pandemic is over. As the chart shows, larger businesses are more likely to consider it, but across all size bands in the UK, around a quarter of businesses are saying they will continue with remote work. Another quarter do not know, and half say that it is not in their plans.
As you would expect, some sectors, like ICT are more likely to deploy remote working routinely in the future, but even in that sector, only 55% of employers are saying they intend to do it in the future. When you add it all up, remote work is likely to remain a minority phenomenon for specific individuals and companies. Of course, for those individuals it is a profound change, but when drawing macro conclusions, it’s useful to keep this data in mind.
Note: this is a slightly new blog format I’ll be using now and then; let’s call it a “charticle”. If I have an insight I want to share quickly, and don’t have time to include all the references as hyperlinks, I’ll do these shorter blogs. If you would like to get any of the underlying evidence that I would have linked to, had I had the time, then please just get in touch (e.g., via Twitter or LinkedIn)!