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Study Finds 22% of American Workforce Will Be Remote by 2025

Upwork, released the results of its second 2020 Future Workforce Pulse Report, a survey that examines the hiring habits and sentiment of over 1,000 U.S. hiring managers. The findings reveal that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% percent increase from pre-pandemic levels.

The survey comes at a time when remote work is increasingly a mainstay of American professional life, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the sudden shift to remote work has been an adjustment, the survey finds hiring managers are seeing the positive benefits to a distributed workforce and plan to continue leveraging remote talent.

Key findings reveal:

Companies continue to be remote: Nine months into the pandemic, 41.8 percent of the American workforce remains fully remote.
The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID-19: By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.

Remote work will continue through 2021: Managers believe that 26.7 percent of the workforce will be fully remote in one year suggesting that individuals will gradually continue to return to the office, but a significant share will remain remote in the near future.

Companies say remote work is getting easier, not harder, as time goes on: 68 percent of hiring managers say remote work is going more smoothly now than when their company first made the shift at the start of the pandemic.

Increased productivity and flexibility continue to be key benefits of remote work: 70 percent of hiring managers cite reduction of non-essential meetings, 60 percent cite increased schedule flexibility, and 54 percent cite no commute as aspects of remote work that have worked better than expected.

Additional findings include:

Despite the success of remote work, hiring managers continue to face resourcing issues:

58 percent of hiring managers agree that they feel stretched to capacity due to limited resources and support
61 percent of teams either lack people or skills to complete all their work
52 percent of teams have had to delay or cancel projects due to the lack of available talent

Some are already finding relief with independent professionals:

48 percent of hiring managers are working with independent talent today
73 percent of managers who see the value in remote work are engaging independent professionals
The median number of days a position is open for independent professional is half of a FT employee (7 days vs. 14 days)