New patterns of remote work are appearing, as different nations rethink their COVID plans. What might they mean for higher education?
The shift to WFH is the largest shock to labor markets in decades. Pre-pandemic WFH was trending towards 5% of days by 2022. Now WFH is now stabilizing at 30%, a 6-fold jump.
In America alone this is saving about 200 million hours and 6 billion miles of commuting a week. pic.twitter.com/XK4WVWXq3f
— Nick Bloom (@I_Am_NickBloom) August 29, 2022
This is early data for a rapidly developing situation, but let’s start from it to get our thoughts and imaginations going. What happens to a society where about one third of its working hours are done remotely?
Since my focus is higher education’s future, let’s zero in on that point. What are the impacts on colleges and universities?
- How much academic work will we conduct remotely during the 2022-2023 academic year? Which units, which departments will be more work-from-home-oriented than others?
- If the workforce outside of the academia experiences this large uptick in remote work, will that influence students to desire more online education?
- If this relatively high level of work from home persists, at least in the medium term, how should colleges and universities change how we prepare students for the workforce?
I posed early versions of these questions on Twitter and received some fascinating responses. Karen Belinier identified some academic work hesitation:
As someone who was on the job market for the past year or so. I have seen quite a bit of hesitation for remote for faculty development or online management level roles.
— Karen Bellnier (@kbmusings) September 2, 2022
Amanda Albright pointed out one reason for academics to welcome work from home options:
Housing shortage in some regions make recruiting difficult. Remote work options help.
— Amanda Albright (@alealbright) September 5, 2022
Drew Tatusko saw strategic reasons for a university to offer remote work:
We've had entire units move to fully remote. 1) Hard to attract a diverse staff to State College, 2) Flexibility = competitiveness, 3) staff retention, the genie is out of the bottle with the conveniences of WFH. Here's our new policy: https://t.co/0RcKGjnB19
— Drew Tatusko (@DrewTatusko) September 5, 2022
What are you seeing in your part(s) of the academic world? What do you anticipate we’ll see on this point for the next year?