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Remote work could be on the rebound.
After most office workers stayed home throughout 2020, reporting onsite regained its ground as the most popular way to work after April 2021, according to LinkedIn data, and has increased ever since while remote work declined.
Onsite work peaked in November 2022 with 55% people working mostly in-person. Just 25% say they were working primarily remotely that month — a 30-point gap.
But that gap has narrowed in recent months as workers spent less time in offices and more time at home. As of January, 50% of workers say they were working primarily onsite, while 28% were primarily remote, , according to LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index, which surveyed 5,860 U.S. professionals from Jan.14 through Jan. 27. And 18% of workers say they’re working a hybrid schedule, which has steadily trended upward since 2021.
It’s enough of a difference to be “the start of something interesting” says George Anders, LinkedIn’s senior editor at large. “Remote work is having its moment” and it’s “at the very least a short-term reversal of a pattern we’ve been seeing in the long-term.”
A similar pattern happened in January 2022 when the share of people working in-person dipped and remote work became more popular.
This could be due to people extending their work-from-home period after the winter holidays, to manage cold and flu season, or to avoid commuting through snowstorms and other severe winter weather.
It’s too soon to tell how long it will last, though.
Previous LinkedIn data show remote job opportunities have been shrinking, from a peak of 20% of all job postings in March 2020 down to just 14% in November 2022.
However, an increase in remote work despite a drop in remote listings could mean people are negotiating for the flexibility after applying, Anders says. Or, more people might be able to start their jobs in-person, connect with their manager and establish a working system to take their jobs remote.
Other data show average office attendance finally reached 50% in January for the first time since the pandemic hit, based on data from Kastle Systems looking at attendance in 10 major metro areas.
But attendance varies widely: A return to office has been strongest in Austin, where attendance reached 68% for the week ending Jan. 25, and least effective in San Jose, Calif., which encompasses much of Silicon Valley and showed an office occupancy at 41%. All cities in the index crossed 40% attendance for the week, also a post-pandemic first.
Anders expects the shares of people working in-person, remotely or hybrid will “always be in a state of flux” and could take years to reach a stabilizing point, if ever.
New people will come into the workforce, job roles get redefined, new remote- and hybrid-friendly technology will improve, and managers get more effective at managing in all three ways, Anders says: “It’s all a work in progress.”