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1 in 4 Americans Will Be Working Remotely in 2021, Upwork Survey Reveals

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  • 1 in 4 Americans will be working remotely in 2021, according to Upwork's "Future of Workforce Pulse Report" released on Tuesday.
  • By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels, the study revealed.
  • Now that employers are more comfortable with remote work they are more likely to tap freelancers to fill talent gaps.

By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels, according to Upwork's "Future of Workforce Pulse Report" released on Tuesday.

"Our research shows the long-lasting impact that remote work and Covid-19 are likely to have on how hiring managers think about their organizations," says Upwork chief economist, Adam Ozimek, in a statement. "As businesses adapt and learn from this remote work experiment, many are altering their long-term plans to accommodate this way of working."

"What's interesting is that remote work is getting better for the vast majority of companies as they adapt to the new model," Ozimek said. "Only 5% of respondents of the survey said it was getting worse."

That is to be expected, according to Ozimek, since companies and their employees had a big learning curve. "They were thrown into a whole new experiment when the pandemic began. Companies had to figure out the best technology to use for their remote workers, and employees had to figure out the best way to work at home and be efficient."

The Upwork study surveyed 1,000 small business owners, HR managers and CEOs across a wide spectrum of industries nationwide. It was conducted from Oct. 21 to Nov. 7, more than six months since the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions of Americans to switch to remote work indefinitely. According to the survey, 41.8% of Americans are still working remotely.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • A gradual return to work: Survey respondents estimate that 26.7% of the workforce will be fully remote by the end of 2021, suggesting that workers will slowly continue to come back to the office.
Source: Upwork's Future of Workforce Pulse Report

● Remote work is getting easier: 68% of hiring managers say remote work is going more smoothly now compared to the start of the pandemic.

Source: Upwork's Future of Workforce Pulse Report

  ● Managers are thrilled about fewer meetings: 70% of hiring managers say the reduction of non-essential meetings has worked out better for their companies than they expected. 60% say increased schedule flexibility and 54% cite no commute as aspects of remote work that have worked better than expected.

The rise in freelancing

Another key trend emerging from the shifting workforce that the survey revealed is that organizations are facing a talent shortage. It noted that 58% of hiring managers feel "stretched to capacity," and 61% of teams "lack people or skills to complete their work," which has led to delayed or canceled projects.

"Now that employers are more comfortable with remote work they are more adapt to tap freelancers to fill talent gaps," Ozimek said. "Companies in many sectors are facing fast-moving challenges in this digital economy and they have to scale quickly in a way they may have not done before. That's where hiring freelance talent comes in."

CORRECTION: This article had been updated to include additional source attribution.

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