Alluring headlines about the arrival and expansion of the gig economy or the proliferation of flexible work have graced many a newspaper article or blog post. In these publications, readers are exposed to emerging truths about the future of work; mainly, that the tide has turned and that it will continue to do so for the next generation.
While the United States’ recent presidential election turned up the volume on bringing jobs back to U.S. soil, countless employment opportunities exist (and more are added daily) that are beyond any physical borders, thanks to the Internet. Globalization is occurring perhaps less visibly, but within a growing flexible and remote workforce, it has certainly been enabled by technology. That tectonic shift is further encouraging the rise of flexible professions.
For any doubters out there, it can easily be proven that flexible work, which includes roles that are partially or fully remote, isn’t going anywhere.
Here’s a holistic look at how flexible work is changing in the U.S.:
1. A significant portion of recent job growth projections has involved sectors ripe for flexible and remote work.
By 2020, both the healthcare and social assistance sector and the professional and business services sector will account for almost half the projected job growth in the past 10 years.
Both of these high-growth sectors include a variety of roles that can accommodate either flexible work with some onsite tasks performed, or work that can be done entirely remotely.
2. Nearly one in four American workers are already accomplishing some or all of their work from home.
A cultural shift has already taken place in terms of wider acceptance of remote work, with flexible jobs becoming more mainstream in a variety of organizations. Also important to note: the savings realized on both sides are staggering.
From employers who can afford to downsize physical office space (or eliminate it altogether) to employees who no longer have to invest in public transit passes or buy as much gas, it’s clear that flexible work offers a significant fiscal benefit.
3. Job flexibility is of critical importance to millennials.
Swiftly becoming the dominant generation within the U.S. workforce, millennials are bringing with them new values and priorities. Among them is a strong desire to work for companies that offer opportunities to work remotely; in a recent survey, 68 percent of millennials cited this option as a criterion for selecting future employment. (Organizations that are eager to compete for top talent are wise to take notice of this preference.)
4. Workers whose jobs are location independent tend to be happier by a figure of 87 percent.
Breaking out of the 9-to-5 mold and being able to work where (and often, even when) workers prefer unsurprisingly leads to higher employee morale. By encouraging flexibility, employers are also boosting employee productivity.
Many professionals are now able to apply themselves to their jobs within schedules of their own choosing. This isn’t only ideal for their lifestyles, but also optimal for aligning with those times of day that are best suited for concentration (morning vs. evening, etc.)
5. Millions of gig work opportunities are cropping up across all sectors.
In the decade studied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2003-2013), there were more than 3.6 million “non-employer businesses” added to the economy. These include myriad professional roles that are especially well suited to remote work, such as graphic designer, web developer, and technical writer, among many others.
Being one’s own boss has always been an appealing part of the American dream, and new levels of connectivity and openness to remote work are making that a reality for many workers.