Over Half Of All Knowledge Workers Worldwide Will Be Working Remotely by End of 2021

Programmer works at home at the computer. Remote work in the home office. IT specialist freelancer. Colorful vector illustration in flat cartoon style. (Programmer works at home at the computer. Remote work in the home office. IT specialist freelancer

Gartner has predicted that the continued popularity of remote work will drive the 2021 shipment of PCs and tablets to over 500 million units for the first time ever. It’s astonishing to see just how quickly the entire world has become convinced that remote work can be a valuable ongoing strategy and not just an emergency reaction to the Covid pandemic.

The predictions from Gartner suggest that by the end of this year, around 51% of all knowledge workers will be working remotely, usually from home. This is in contrast with a figure of 27% from 2019. Gartner also believes that remote workers will represent 32% of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021 – up from 17% in 2019. 

The pace of change is extremely fast and I think that it is extremely interesting to see this last figure – a third of all employees worldwide will be working remotely by the end of 2021. Consider how improbable that would have sounded back in 2019?

Gartner is defining knowledge workers as those involved in knowledge-intensive industries, such as writers, accountants, or engineers. Their research includes fully remote workers as well as hybrid, so some of these workers will be visiting an office or client site, but they will not be working Monday to Friday from the same office.

The research indicates that company leaders need to be careful how they plan for a post-Covid future. 39% of knowledge workers said that they would quit if their company insists on a full return to permanently working in an office without the option for location flexibility.

This Gartner study shows that most organisations have been sufficiently convinced by their pandemic work-from-home experience to continue offering flexibility on working locations – at least as a hybrid option, if not completely remote.

This demonstrates what Sens̩e has understood for many years Рworking from home is real work and fully remote workers can be integrated into teams that are highly effective. But the point about knowledge workers now demanding flexibility and threatening to leave their employer if it is not granted is very interesting.

The workers that suddenly went home because of the pandemic just had to manage in the best way possible. Very few companies had a pre-existing strategy that allowed them to manage the situation. We are now approaching two years since the beginning of the pandemic and the world is in a very different situation.

Executives that want to maintain a flexible environment for their knowledge workers really need to think carefully now. They need to entirely change how teams are created and managed to successfully integrate flexible remote working into the heart of their business. Gartner focused much of their commentary on the huge boost that remote working has given to tablet and laptop sales, but managing remote teams is about much more than sending people home with a laptop.

With so many knowledge workers now working remotely, executives need a more detailed plan for how to deliver successful remote working in 2022.

Click here to read more from the Gartner Future of Work Resource Centre

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