Job postings that allow at least one day of remote work per week have tripled since 2019.
That’s according to a working paper distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday. The paper analyzed job postings in five English-speaking countries: the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
“The pandemic catalyzed an enduring shift to remote work,” the authors concluded. Job postings offering the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week increased threefold in the U.S., and for the four other countries studied, remote-work opportunities grew approximately fivefold.
The authors looked at job postings from more than 50,000 online sources, including government job boards, employer websites and job-aggregation sites. They examined over 250 million job-vacancy postings across those five countries.
The researchers said they achieved “99% accuracy in flagging job postings that advertise hybrid or fully remote work.”
Hybrid-work trends vary across industries, cities and occupations, the researchers found. Industries seeing a high number of remote-work posts usually require significant use of computers and include the finance, insurance, information and communications industries.
Business hubs such as Chicago, London, New York, San Francisco and Toronto — which are arguably more expensive to live in than second-tier cities and their surrounding commuter belts — also had a higher share of remote-work opportunities.
“Business hubs such as Chicago, London, New York, San Francisco and Toronto — which are arguably more expensive to live in than second-tier cities and the surrounding commuter belts — also had a higher share of remote-work opportunities. ”
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies were forced to ask nonesssential workers to work from home. But even as health concerns waned and the economy started opening up again, many employers continued the model of working from home or adopted a hybrid model that required workers to go into the office a few days a week.
More than 15% of full-time employees remain fully remote and another 30% work in hybrid mode, according to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last October.
In 2019, the share of job postings allowing remote work was about 4% in the U.S., 3% in the U.K. and 1% in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the researchers. The share grew to more than 10% for all five countries by January 2023 and, they say, it’s still growing.
However, support for remote work often has more to do with management choices than technical constraints, the authors noted.
“In many occupations, it is misleading to think of remote-work suitability as a purely technological constraint. Remote-work intensity is, instead, an outcome of choices about job design and how to operate an organization,” the paper said.
Whether a company decides to explicitly advertise remote/hybrid arrangements in their job advertisements reflects the nature of the job and myriad other market forces, said Peter J. Lambert, an economist from the London School of Economics and Political Science and one of the co-authors of the paper.
Those market forces include whether working from home fits in with pre-existing organizational structures, the preferences of current workers and how competitive the search for talent is in specific markets, Lambert wrote in an email to MarketWatch.
“The main shock that prompted the changes we observe in the data is the pandemic, but it is likely that other sudden technological (e.g.: the advent of faster broadband) or regulatory changes could shift firms’ willingness to commit to [work-from-home] arrangements,” he said.
The authors of the paper are from University College London, University of Chicago, London School of Economics, Harvard Business School, Stanford University and the labor-market research company Lightcast, formerly known as Emsi Burning Glass.