The Hill | May 05, 2020
Significant economic events inspire pundits to prognosticate on how the economy and our lives will never be the same. The disruptions generated by our response to the COVID-19 pandemic are no exception. The current shuttering of many businesses — and extreme disruptions to work patterns for those enterprises that continue to operate — have brought their fair share of predictions about the future of work. We are currently engaged in a massive experiment where a large segment of the workforce has suddenly shifted to remote work. Does this current reality represent the future? The answer is a definite maybe, for some.
In a recent study professors Jonathan Dingel and Brent Neiman from the University of Chicago estimate that approximately one-third of jobs are able to be performed remotely. Jobs that require face-to-face interaction with the customer (food services, massage therapy) or must be performed at a specific site (factory and warehouse jobs) cannot be performed remotely.
Most of the jobs that are amenable to remote work are in professional and business services — finance and banking, sales, software and information technology. However, simply because a job can be performed remotely does not make it the most efficient way to organize.