Tech Jobs are Going Remote; UK Leads the Way

Michael Page
Aug 17, 2020 02:20PM UTC
Foretell is CSET's crowd forecasting pilot project focused on technology and security policy. It connects historical and forecast data on near-term events with the big-picture questions that are most relevant to policymakers. This post is part of our Metric Analysis series, where we explore historic data related to the metrics (questions) we are forecasting on Foretell.

COVID-19 is reshaping the global economy as more jobs go remote in industrialized countries. In April and May 2020, the percentage of job postings for remote roles increased in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Between the first quarter (January to March) and the second (April to June), the percentage of all jobs in these countries that accommodated remote work increased from 1.5 to 2.6 percent. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. This chart is based on Burning Glass data through June 2020. 

The percentage of postings for remote jobs is particularly high for tech roles across several categories that we analyzed. Between January 2015 and June 2020, U.S.-based remote job postings in the Computer and Mathematical occupations were 2.2 percent of the total, trailing only Business and Financial Operations (2.9 percent) and Community and Social Service (2.5 percent). The national average during that time period was 1.5 percent. See Figure 2.

Figure 2. This chart is based on Burning Glass data from January 2015 through June 2020. The occupation categories are Burning Glass-defined Occupation Families. The 10 occupations in the chart have the highest percentage of remote job postings.

We looked more closely at the most prevalent type of tech role: software engineer. The percentage of job postings for software engineers that accommodate remote work increased from 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 5.1 percent in the second quarter. As is the case for all jobs (see figure 1), the U.K. leads the way, with 10 percent of remote job posting being for software engineering roles in the second quarter of 2020. See Figure 3.

Figure 3. This chart is based on Burning Glass data through June 2020. It includes postings for all jobs Burning Glass classifies as Software Development / Engineering in its Occupation Name field in countries for which remote job metadata is available. 

A remote tech industry would have different properties than a non-remote tech industry. Most significantly, location would be a less of a constraint on where people work and who companies hire. At Foretell, we are tracking and forecasting the percentage of software engineer job postings that are remote in the United States, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This metric informs the scenario "Three Possible 2025 World that Should Inform Policy Today." You can forecast it here

To stay updated on what we’re doing, follow us on Twitter @CSETForetell.

Michael Page, CSET Research Fellow

Author: Michael Page

CSET Research Fellow
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