An increasing number of U.S. professionals anticipate to be fully remote from an office in the next five years, according to a survey of hiring managers.
The results of the Upwork Inc. survey signals a shift to a more permanent remote work setting and use of freelancers.
The Upwork survey included more than 1,000 hiring managers, and the data shows an estimated 40.7 million Americans expect to be working remotely by 2026, or almost 28 percent of respondents. That’s 4.5 million more than in a previous poll in the third quarter of 2020 – and about 21 million above pre-pandemic levels.
More than half of businesses say remote work has increased their willingness to use freelancers.
The results are similar with other research showing the pandemic has accelerated a shift to gig employment. There will be 86.5 million freelancers by 2027, making up half the total workforce, according to Statista data.
The reliance on freelancers may further sever relationships between employers and workers, leading to profound shifts in the labor market. It will put some workers in a more precarious position in terms of job security – and access to health care.
The Upwork report finds remote work has improved collaboration. The widespread use of video communication software such as Zoom over the past year and a half has made it easier for firms to hire outside workers to participate in projects, according to Upwork.