The Case For Remote Work

A new report from economist Dr Matt Clancy explores the long-run prospects for remote work.

Executive Summary

  • The case for remote work goes well beyond its use during the Covid-19 global pandemic. Recent research from economics and other social sciences collectively makes a strong case for the viability of remote work for the long-run.
  • This paper brings this research together to argue that remote work (also called telework) is likely to become far more common in the future. Employees that switch to remote work do not become less productive in general; in fact, they are frequently more productive after the switch. Businesses that make the switch to remote work can also hire from outside their local labour market, and this may also mean they can hire more productive workers.
  • Technological and social changes have made it increasingly easy for businesses and applicants to find each other, even when they are not physically close. Moreover, because workers value the flexibility of remote work, businesses that are remote capable can attract more productive workers (or equally productive ones for less cost). Lastly, the supposed benefits of clustering together to help workers exchange ideas and enjoy “knowledge spillovers” have shrunk and may even be gone in many cases.
  • While the prevalence of remote work (pre-Covid-19) was small, it was already rising rapidly with plenty of room for further growth. Remote work has positive externalities and should be promoted by policymakers.

To mark the launch of the report, we record a launch discussion between the paper’s author Matt Clancy, Oglivy’s Rory Sutherland and Upwork’s Adam Ozimek.

Find the report here

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