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Going Back to the Office Is Toast, for Real This Time

As the debate over returning to the office rages, Americans have decided: They are staying put in their basements and bedrooms and at their kitchen tables.

While the debate over when white-collar workers should return to their offices and cubicles rages, Americans have already decided: They are staying put in their basements and spare rooms and at their kitchen tables.

A study released last week from career site Ladders noted that the number of high-paid professionals working remotely will increase this year as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to reshape the workplace.

But embedded in the report’s findings is a much swifter trend that strongly suggests a swing back to working in the office is not in the cards for many companies - and that a lot of high-paying professional jobs will likely be remote for good.

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As of the fourth quarter of last year, 17 million professional jobs in the U.S. were permanently remote, according to Ladders, up from 14 million in the third quarter, and about 3 million prior to the pandemic.

Overall, permanently remote jobs are now 18% of the U.S. professional workforce, up from 15% in the third quarter, 13% in the second quarter, and 3% before the pandemic, according to the company.

While the data are easily dismissed as a headline-grabber, Ladders Founder Marc Cenedella noted that the findings don’t come from random samples but actual data collected, analyzed and compiled from the myriad career sites that post jobs.

And the findings? Those jobs are clearly marked as “remote.”

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Source: Ladders

Source: Ladders

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“The shift to working remotely is large, permanent, and picking up speed,” Cenedella wrote in a follow up email highlighting the findings on Wednesday. 

“I’ve been in the jobs industry since 2000. We have never seen a change in professional jobs and hiring as fast as this shift to remote hiring.” 

“This move to remote work is permanent,” Cenedella continued. “Once a company has hired dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people outside of its offices, they can’t easily change their minds and go back. It’s a one-way street, like cracking an egg. Undoing these decisions would be painful, expensive and demoralizing.”

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Cenedella said the transition to remote working is picking up speed because of the nature of hiring, which now spans across the country and even internationally.

“Why restrict yourself to hiring in just one city representing less than 1% of the talent in the country? It’s easier and faster and higher quality to hire from anywhere. Remote hiring has been a godsend” for human resources professionals.

“Many think that we’ll soon return to the way things were prepandemic. That’s wishful thinking. The impact of the remote revolution on American life is underhyped and underappreciated.

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“As a nation, we are now committed to a permanently remote workforce. We can’t go back and we won’t want to. This dramatic change will have a profound impact on careers, families and communities for decades to come.”

Here is Ladders' list of the top 10 job titles with the most high-paying remote-work opportunities:

  1. Senior Software Engineer
  2. Software Engineer
  3. Account Executive
  4. Enterprise Account Executive
  5. Product Manager
  6. Senior Product Manager
  7. DevOps Engineer
  8. Data Engineer
  9. Project Manager
  10. Product Marketing Manager