Managers trying to get workers back in the office were just dealt another blow

April 20, 2022, 4:52 PM UTC

White-collar workers who want work-from-home jobs are in luck: 24% of professional jobs are now available as fully remote, the Ladders’ Q1 2022 Quarterly Remote Work Report, released last week, shows. That’s eight times as many as in the first quarter of 2020 (3%), and 2.4 times as many as the first quarter of 2021 (10%). 

“An abrupt increase of 6% more new remote jobs availability in Q1 demonstrated this is no passing trend,” says Marc Cenedella, founder of Ladders, a career site exclusively for positions paying $100,000 or more. In conducting the study, Ladders analyzed professional job posting data from North America’s 50,000 largest employers. 

Last year, Cenedella predicted 25% of jobs would be fully remote by the end of 2022. To nearly meet that in just the first quarter, he tells Fortune, is “mind-boggling.”

By Q3 of 2021, the figure hit 15% and then 18% in Q4. “There’s a little over 100 million white-collar professional jobs in America,” Cenedella told Fortune’s Sheryl Estrada in January. “With a 3% increase, that’s about 3 million jobs.” And “once you’re hiring somebody remote, you’re permanently changing that job to be remote.” 

The most remote-friendly field—technology—may not come as a surprise. Nearly 35% of job openings in brand marketing and management, account management, sales engineering, DevOps, and quality assurance are marked as available as fully remote. 

“Companies wishing to keep top talent should be cognizant of the options increasingly available to employees,” Ladders CEO Dave Fisch wrote in the report. 

“On one hand, big executives say, ‘We’ve really got to head back to the office,’ and a lot of that is based not on what employees think, but on boomer-aged bosses’ comfort with influencing management in a physical environment,” Cenedella tells Fortune. “Knowing how to work in a conference room, to say something clever at the watercooler—those are skills they picked up over 40 years.”

On the other hand, millennials and Gen Z have grown up much more comfortable with being online, both for work and leisure. “They’re big into it,” Cenedella says. “Only problem is, [our research has] proven we can’t really train new workers remotely. If there’s a downside to the explosion of remote work, that would be it.”

For fully remote roles, Cenedella says, the best companies will gather team members together in-person, at least once a quarter or so, to meet one another and provide a chance for remote workers to connect with colleagues. 

Cenedella calls the past two years “a forced experiment” in remote work. But if the question was whether people can be productive without the office, the experiment has produced a resounding answer of yes. 

“Corporate America had its most profitable year since World War II last year,” Cenedella says. “What these Q1 numbers show is that companies went through their 2022 planning process and said, ‘Hey, we’re more productive and more profitable. Our employees are happier. We really ought to do more of this remote work.’”

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