Next wave of remote jobs will transform the economy – Quartz
as repulsion Moving to remote work It was during the coronavirus pandemic, it was modest compared to what was to come next, says Adam Ozymec, labor economist at freelancing platform Upwork. He argues that the next phase of remote work will transform economies, as more companies revise their policies to accommodate employees who have permanently moved to remote work, and more workers move to places where they’ve always wanted to live but couldn’t.
Ozimek and the team at Upwork have conducted surveys about remote work since the start of the pandemic, and his view is based in part on those findings. He predicts that remote startups will discover new ways to work asynchronously, making fully remote work more manageable than the version we use today. He predicts that economic geography will change in big ways, with workers being free to live anywhere they want – from their hometowns to ski towns – rather than wherever they work.
Quartz spoke to Ozimek about what the next iteration will be Distance working can look like. This interview has been shortened and edited for clarity.
They will rely less on PowerPoint culture and more on written culture.
Quartz: What is the story of remote work so far since the pandemic?
Adam Ozymec: The first thing that happened is that a lot of companies and a lot of workers are finding that telecommuting works better than they thought. You can see this in the surveys of workers, you can see it in the surveys of employers – basically everyone has found out that this way of working is much more productive than they thought. There are a lot of significant benefits to this way of working, which makes sense as a long-term change rather than a short-term adaptation of many roles.
Why do you call teleworking “general purpose technology,” a term economists use to describe inventions like electricity or the Internet?
It’s a general purpose technology because it would have a lot of really big ramifications. It’s more than just allowing two people to work together remotely — it will have implications for all kinds of changes company-wide. We are in the early stages.
What are some areas that you expect to change?
I think it’s important to be very humble about it and say we don’t know what all of these changes are going to look like. But when you’re completely away, this allows you to do some parts of your work outside of the company. For example, you can use files Remote freelancing or external services. You can use freelance platforms where you can see everyone’s past work and know the reviews these freelancers got from previous clients. As a freelancer, you can connect with clients from all over the world who don’t know you personally, because they can see what you’ve done. These platforms already exist, but the convenience of working remotely will help unleash its potential.
Another interesting thing that companies are considering, and will increasingly be looking for, is how is the transfer of knowledge in your company when you move to a completely remote location? There is a lot of tacit knowledge in the company – this is the way things work, this is the way we do things, this is the way we think about things – and these things are conveyed informally, in person. One of the biggest strategic changes that companies have to make, is to make knowledge more formal and processes more formal, so that they don’t need to rely on the company’s oral tradition in order to impart essential knowledge. They will rely less on PowerPoint culture and more on written culture.
How important are time zones?
I think we’ll find that some types of work can be done very well asynchronously, and other types of work require more synchronous coordination. The software will help improve asynchronous work, and management changes will help improve it as well.
How much has people moved since the start of the pandemic and what does remote work tell us?
Today, the vast majority of the movements we saw were relatively closer distance movements. For example, from NYC to out of town, but a short drive away. But I really think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
One problem here is that telecommuting is still not really a certainty for individual workers. Even if your employer currently allows you to go remote, a lot of employers haven’t decided exactly what that looks like in the long run. It is difficult to fulfill this obligation to pack your belongings and move somewhere where there may not be much opportunities in the job market based on a temporary arrangement with your employer. What we really need is more certainty.
I think people want to do these movements for longer distances. we did survey In November of 2020, we asked people if they were considering moving due to telecommuting and 40% said they would commute four hours or more by car from their workplace, so that’s not the short-distance movement we’re seeing too far. There’s an unmet demand out there: people want to move to low-cost places, they want to move to less dense places, and they want to move far away. They’re not doing it in great numbers yet, but I think we’ll see.
So, what kind of places do you excel?
The desirability of a place depends on a whole host of things. So, think of the job market as one of a dozen important things, and what happens is that that specific factor is going to be less important. The success of a place will not be determined by the strength of the local job market. A ski town might be a specific type of place that you might take advantage of because if you really love skiing, you can live there all year round.
Then there are places like Cleveland, Indianapolis—a Midwest city that has urban amenities, but no super-strong, highly skilled labor markets. This is different from ski towns, but there is reason to believe that they will have success, too. The types of places that will succeed will be diverse because that’s what remote work does – it allows people to put more weight on their diverse desires and less weight on one specific aspect, which is having jobs out there.