Why more of us are working remotely than ever before

Covid forced us to work from home and, now the pandemic is over, it looks like many people don’t want to go back to the office. Find out why more of us are working remotely than ever before.

Remote working arrangements entered the mainstream as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And three years on, there is little sign that the popularity of such jobs is waning. It looks like remote working is here to stay – despite signs that some politicians and businesses are increasingly eager to see workers back in offices.

A new study from remote marketing agency Enflow Digital reveals that Google searches for remote jobs in the UK in March 2023 hit their highest ever level since records of such searches began in 2004.

The search for ‘remote jobs’ has grown by 58% when compared to the same period last year. And compared to December 2019, the number of searches for this term has gone up by 900%.

Working from home has been transformative

The lifting of official guidance to work from home in the UK in May last year has had little impact on the interest to work from home overall. While there was a slight dip immediately following that guidance being issued, it was followed shortly after by a sustained increase in searches for remote roles.

Since then, home working has proved to be transformative for many Brits, with many opting for a long term shift to the practice.  

A range of factors, including flexibility and the reduced amount of time spent commuting, combine to make the practice appealing to a number of workers. In fact, a recent poll of home workers by YouGov showed two in five respondents saying they would never return to the office.

For politicians and businesses, the verdict on home working has been more mixed.  While some businesses have embraced the practice, others have looked to move back towards having people in offices. As recently as January, the head of the CBI, Britain’s largest business group, told the BBC he believed most bosses secretly wanted all their staff back in offices. 

Lower footfall is having an impact on large cities

Many bosses point to perceived lower productivity, while businesses in the centres of large cities like London and Manchester say lower footfall from office workers continues to act as a drag on their post-pandemic recovery. There has also been concern about the effect on commercial landlords, whose incomes have dropped due to an increase in empty office space.

Among politicians, multiple current or former cabinet ministers in the Conservative government have spoken of the importance of getting workers back into offices – and bosses at the Civil Service have been tasked with getting more workers back to their desks. 

Much of the discussion around remote working has focused on it being a supposedly middle-class pursuit. Yet when searching for remote job opportunities in recent months, most people were seeking lower-qualification jobs, such as customer service, administrative and data entry job roles.

However, interest in higher-qualification job roles has also been strong. Searches for remote marketing and finance roles put them among the top five most sought-after roles.

The 10 most popular jobs people searched for in Mar 2023

So what kind of roles are people looking for? Here are the 10 most popular jobs people searched for in Mar 2023:

 Job TypeSearch TermEst. Monthly Search Volume
1Customer serviceremote customer service jobs2400
2Administrativeremote admin jobs2200
3Data entryremote data entry jobs1200
4Marketingremote marketing jobs 1000
5Financeremote finance jobs900
6HRremote hr jobs900
7ITremote it jobs800
8Graphic designremote graphic design jobs600
9Accountingremote accounting jobs500
10Writerremote writer jobs400

While the pursuit of remote job roles appears to be on the rise, data from the Office for National Statistics reports there has also been a significant rise in the number of people working from home.

The Annual Population Survey from December 2019 reports around 12% of working adults worked from home at some point in the week prior to the interview. In the most recent Public Opinions and Social Trends Survey, from February 2023, around 40% of the working adults reported having worked from home at some point in the last seven days. 

People aren’t keen to return to their workplaces

So why are we seeing this trend? The pandemic presented a lot of people with an opportunity to see the benefits of working from home. And, despite the official guidance to work from home being called off 10 months ago, not everyone is keen to go back to their workplaces. 

Having been forced to work from home for an extended period of time, a lot of people have invested into webcams, computers and other home office gear setting their home workplaces up as comfortably if not better than their official workplaces. 

The experience of working from home has opened up people’s minds to the realm of opportunities available to them to work online. Unsurprisingly, increasingly more people feel confident to search for remote working opportunities.