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Remote Work Trends During COVID-19 in the US and Europe

Andrius Ziuznys

Andrius Ziuznys

June 29, 2022

trend report visual

Job market overview: the US and Europe

The pandemic has affected the job market in both the US and Europe significantly. In the US, it sparked a massive surge in unemployment in the first half of 2020. Europe has also experienced an increase in that regard; however, it was not as dramatic. The unemployment trends, in turn, resulted in a significantly increased number of job openings on both continents. Furthermore, an increasing number of job postings offered more opportunities to work remotely.

The surge in remote employment was most likely due to the pandemic’s influence. People were required to avoid contact as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. Hence, white-collar workers had to resort to working from home.

Another event worth noting is The Great Resignation in 2021, which resulted in over 47M people quitting their jobs in 2021 in the US. The resignees justified their leave with arguments about low pay, no career advancement, and poor working conditions. Another contributing factor was when the US government issued economic relief payments to help the population cope with the unprecedented circumstances.

The office worker segment of the job market, which was the focus of this report, was not affected as much since most of the people connected with The Great Resignation were from the hospitality, healthcare, and retail industries. Naturally, the pandemic fund has run out, and people started coming back to the job market looking for better opportunities. Additionally, the massive spike in unemployment increased competition for talent, which fueled higher pay and produced even more motivation for people to return to the workforce.

As far as Europe is concerned, employment reached an all-time high in 2019 with almost 200M jobs. Since the pandemic took place, there was a decrease of 2.5M jobs, unemployment grew, and the proportion of unemployed, uneducated young people rose. The most affected industries in 2020 were accommodation and food, construction, and administrative services. However, ICT and energy supply services, along with the public sector and defense, saw job growth which countered a part of the employment loss. 

In this report, you will see the change in remote jobs share in the US and Europe. You will also learn what industries posted the most remote job postings and the sizes of companies that offered more remote job opportunities. At the end of the report, you will find a brief comparison between the remote job trends in the US and Europe.

Research questions

  • How did the remote jobs share change throughout the analyzed pandemic period in N. America and Europe?
  • What were the potential reasons for sharp inclines and declines in remote job proportions?
  • Is remote work going to be in demand once the pandemic is over?

Hypothesis

The remote jobs share increased significantly during COVID-19 and is expected to continue to rise in N. America and Europe due to the impact of the pandemic on work trends.

Key insights

  • Globally, the growth of remote jobs share has stabilized and had a slightly negative trend in the first quarter of 2022;
  • N. America reached remote jobs share peak (17.2%) in 2021-08 and then steadily decreased to 11.9% in 2022-02;
  • Europe reached remote jobs share peak (19.9%) in 2021-10 and then steadily decreased to 9.1% in 2022-02;
  • California had the highest remote jobs share in the US;
  • The United Kingdom had the highest remote jobs share in Europe;
  • The highest remote jobs share was in Information Technology and Internet industries;
  • Companies with 1001-5000 and 51-200 employees offered the most remote job opportunities.

Read the full report below if you are interested in what might have caused these trends and fluctuations.

Methodology and limitations

This report analyzes 40+ million public job postings posted on one of the most popular online job posting platforms from 2020-08 to 2022-03.

This report does not represent the whole job market in N. America and Europe. However, the large sample size shows certain trends in work models among white-collar workers in these regions.

The data extraction process was performed as follows:

  • Filtered 43M job postings in N. America (The US, Canada, and Mexico) and Europe for the period of 2020-10 to 2022-03;
  • Extracted the total number of remote job postings based on the field value remote.
  • Calculated the distribution of remote job postings in different states and countries;

Report findings

Remote job trends in the US

remote jobs in the US

The top 3 leading states in terms of remote jobs share were California, Texas, and New York. One way to explain it could be the distribution of tech companies between those regions. California is currently the heart of the tech industry, with most companies residing in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area. However, in recent years, Silicon Valley companies started moving from California to Texas to avoid high taxes, expenses, and regulations. As a result, it’s possible that Texas might overcome California in the foreseeable future. For the time being, let’s dive a little deeper into California’s statistics.

Remote jobs share decreased by 5.4% from 2020 Q4 to 2022 Q1.

remote jobs in California

A survey of 10,000 employees conducted in the US in 2021 showed the following results: 44% of executives who worked fully remotely during the pandemic wanted to return to office, whereas only 17% of employees felt the same. This might suggest that remote job trends are prone to change once the common ground is established between executives and employees. However, for the time being, remote jobs share is on a slight decline.

Remote job trends in Europe

Remote jobs in Europe

In 2021, the United Kingdom accounted for 29.4% of all remote job opportunities in Europe and was a leading country in that regard across the continent. It is notable that the UK is in the lead by nearly 20% compared to Germany in terms of remote jobs share. 

There are many reasons for this, some of which could be tied to the workforce’s demands. In the UK, 60% of employees would choose full-time or part-time remote work if that was an option. However, a more likely scenario as to why remote jobs are booming in the UK is the fact that almost 50% of Millennials and Gen Z employees will quit their jobs unless they could work remotely. In Germany, remote work appears to be less popular and that could be due to the influence of “home office” encouragement. A home office is a permanent workplace set up outside the company premises which does not allow the employee to freely choose a remote work location.

Another country worth noting is France. Despite being a relatively large country, it remains an outlier in terms of remote jobs share. It could be due to historical circumstances that revolved around the top-down approach instead of mutual trust and autonomy. Also, employees are supposedly strongly attached to the physical workplace because it represents a sign of belonging.

Germany and UK remote job trends 2020 Q4-2022 Q1

Remote jobs in Germany and the UK

Both Germany and UK treaded at a consistent pace in terms of remote jobs share. A more significant event was Germany’s significant decline in April of 2021. However, after that, the trend stabilized.

Global industry and company size trends

top 5 industries by remote jobs

Looking at industry trends regarding remote job opportunities, IT & Services, Internet, and Civic & Social Organization take precedence over all the other industries. IT & Services had the highest share of remote job postings with 22.1%, and the Internet and Social Organization industries followed with 18% and 16.4%, respectively.

remote jobs by company size

Another thing we wanted to take a look at was remote job share between different company sizes. What we found is that companies with 1001-5000 and 51-200 employees tend to offer remote job opportunities most often. Companies of other sizes are seemingly less flexible in terms of remote jobs.

Remote jobs share: North America and Europe

remote jobs in N. America and Europe

In June of 2021, the Delta variant became the dominant COVID-19 variant which jumpstarted the third wave of infections in the US. Consequently, the US reached a total of 600K deaths from COVID-19. That was the highest number of confirmed fatalities in the world. This event could potentially correlate with the remote jobs share increasing by 66.9% in the span of two months–from June to August. 

However, after that, the trend starts decreasing, and that could be due to the fact that in August of 2021, the US reached a vaccination rate of 70% and was closer to obtaining herd immunity which requires around 80-90% of the population to be vaccinated or to have had a prior infection.

Also, Mexico saw an exponential increase in remote jobs during 2021. Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum in particular experienced a massive surge. Remote jobs in those cities grew by 157%, 116%, and 102%, respectively, from 2020 to 2021.

Remote jobs share in Canada, on the other hand, showed a very similar growth as the US. It steadily increased from April 2021 (10.2%) until December 2021 (16%) and then went into a slight decline in February 2022 (14.1%).

In Europe, remote jobs share started increasing two months earlier and lasted two months longer. In March 2021, Italy became the sixth country to surpass a threshold of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. In Germany, the third wave of infections began due to the Alpha variant. As these events happened, we can see the remote job trend line started going upward. 

Going forward, in June 2021, the UK recorded over 10K new cases for the first time since February; WHO announced that the Delta variant is likely to become globally dominant; the UK announced more than 100K COVID-19 deaths; and the WHO recommended that vaccinated people still wear masks. These factors could have fueled the remote jobs share to skyrocket from June to August, by 70.5%.

In July 2021, it was announced that fully vaccinated people can still catch and spread the Delta variant, and Amazon delayed its return to office until 2022. After that, the remote jobs share showed an additional increase from August to October by 22.8%.

Summary

To conclude, it is notable that the remote jobs share was on a slight decline in 2022 Q1 in both N. America and Europe: there have been ups and downs in trend lines throughout the analyzed period, but ultimately it all came down to a decline. 

However, it is not to say that remote work will vanish. The workforce demands that remote work remains a viable opportunity, and most likely, employees, executives, and the government will have to find a common ground.

The potential reasons for the increase, decrease, and distribution of remote jobs share could be connected with specific events caused by COVID-19, such as new cases and death thresholds, vaccination, and government regulations for remote work to prevent spread.

Other factors could be the distribution of high-tech companies that provide more opportunities for white-collar workers. Some states and countries are denser in high-tech companies, and it could have influenced the distribution of remote job postings.

With that said, despite the slight decline in the first quarter of 2022, remote work is likely going to stay in demand once the pandemic is over. Many employees feel more comfortable and productive working from home, and that will most likely contribute to the upcoming decisions about remote working.

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