Remote-work searches outstrip available supply – San Bernardino Sun

The demand for remote work opportunities has skyrocketed as more businesses adapt to the flexibility of a COVID-19 world, but it has far outstripped the available supply of work-from-home jobs, according to a new report.

The jobs study from Semrush, an online data research firm, shows remote-work searches jumped 300% between July 2021 and July 2022. Specifically, searches for “remote jobs near me,” “part-time remote jobs” and “entry-level remote jobs” more than quadrupled in popularity year over year, the company said.

But despite the demand, the median share of remote positions available on job-search websites is only 6.8%, Semrush said.

The first to go?

There’s a brewing downside to remote work.

Sixty percent of the 3,000 workplace managers polled by the website say remote workers will be the first to go if downsizing becomes necessary as a result of inflationary challenges.

One of managers’ biggest concerns, the report said, is whether employees can maintain the same level of engagement, interest and collaborative involvement that they would in a physical office environment.

With more people working remotely than ever before, some employers believe it’s become harder to support meetings and collaboration, the study shows.

Statistics from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago show that 10,000 workers who surveyed felt they were just as productive working from home compared to working in the office. (SCNG file photo)

Statistics from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago show that 10,000 workers who were surveyed felt they were just as productive working from home compared with working in the office. Almost a third, or 30%, of respondents told researchers they were more productive and engaged working remotely.

The same survey team determined that commuting time among respondents was significantly reduced starting from the middle of March 2020 to the middle of September 2020. 

Proponents of flexible work arrangements say remote workers are more productive because they have no commute, less or no office small talk, fewer distractions, more time for family, a higher quality of life and a better work-life balance.

Edward Chua, a 2014 Cal Poly Pomona graduate who moved to Dallas and now works a fully remote schedule as a cybersecurity manager, said work-from-home adjustments need to happen early on. 

“Collaboration and brainstorming do suffer initially, but over time you learn how to adapt to each other’s communication styles,” he said. “Then it can be just as effective.”

Dana Sumpter, an associate professor of organization theory and management at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, cautioned that remote work isn’t for everyone.

“Everyone is in vastly different boats out at sea,” she said. “Many people definitely want to continue to work remotely. But some prefer hybrid work schedules, while others are dying to get back to the office because they need that facetime with colleagues and want to have that exposure to help build their careers.”

Michael Macho, division president for BIS Computer Solutions in Glendale, said nearly all of his company’s 30 employees work remotely. BIS provides companies with software applications that streamline processes and cut operational costs.

“Businesses have been using Zoom and other collaboration tools for the past two years and there’s no reason to go back,” he said. “It’s also advantageous when a company can tell someone that, in addition to all of the benefits, they’ll have the option to work from home.”

And there are cost savings. Businesses save money when they can function with fewer offices.

California businesses can further reduce costs when they hire remote workers from out of state, Macho said, as wages in many other regions of the country are lower since the cost of living isn’t as high.

“That person in Tennessee or Vermont who works remotely for a California business can still make a good salary,” he said. “It’s often more than they normally would there, so it’s a win-win for both sides.”

Chua figures skilled remote and hybrid employees aren’t any closer to the chopping block than their cubicle-bound co-workers when a company is forced to downsize.

“If you are going to kill off your remote workers … you’re killing off a qualified part of your workplace population,” he said.

Sumpter said some workers become disgruntled when operations return to a 9-to-5, on-site schedule.

“I’m hearing more and more stories about people who, when forced to return to the office, downshifted or resigned,” she said. “Many of my students say they wouldn’t mind going in sometimes — but not all the time. I believe flexible work schedules help foster employee retention.”

Upwork estimates that 22% of the U.S. workforce, or 36.2 Million Americans, will work remotely by 2025.

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