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The Outlook for Remote and Hybrid Workforces

Woman in front of computer

In 2020, the workforce jumped forward with large-scale shifts to remote working and e-commerce. What was expected to take years suddenly transformed seemingly overnight -- with continued shifts expected in 2021. 

An average of 44% of workers have been able to work remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, according to the World Economic Forum. Findings from the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs 2020 Report and ManpowerGroup Talent Solutions' Total Workforce Index put a spotlight on the remote and hybrid workforce opportunities as well as some of the related challenges for businesses. 

Prime sectors for remote work

Insights from Glassdoor show that access to working from home has nearly doubled since 2011, from 28% to 54% of workers indicating that they have had the opportunity to work from home. The industries with the largest opportunity to work from home are the information technology and insurance industries, with 74% of workers in those industries reporting having access to remote working. But there are also industries such as finance, legal work and business services that are also ripe for more remote work.

Country readiness matters

Organizations today are less limited by geographic constraints, which opens a wider pool of available talent and can significantly increase the diversity of talent. To better understand remote workforce potential by country, organizations can leverage resources such as The Total Workforce Index, a one-of-a-kind tool that assesses workforce potential based on over 200 factors across 76 global markets to provide a comprehensive view of four key areas: workforce availability, cost efficiency, productivity and regulation. The latest TWI Index uses new remote readiness indicators (e.g., childcare gap, technical reliability, cybersecurity risk) to help companies evaluate the best markets for remote capable or remote optimal workforces.

Hybrid on the rise 

According to ManpowerGroup’s Q4 2020 Employment Outlook Survey, over half (59%) of employers are planning to offer flexible work options for the long-term, with 20% offering the option to work remotely 100% of the time, and 39% planning to support remote work some of the time.

Challenges for mental well-being 

Remote work also carries challenges that businesses should address. Remote workers are faced with potential well-being and mental health challenges brought on by new changes to work-life circumstances, including access to digital connectivity, living situations and the additional care responsibilities faced by parents or those looking after elderly relatives. In response, 34% of leaders report that they are taking steps to create a sense of community among employees online and looking for other ways to tackle the well-being challenges posed by the shift to remote work.

The new normal of remote work will also necessitate leadership to step up in 2021 and provide leadership through change for their organizations to help employees navigate an ever-changing environment.