Remote work gives us the opportunity to address labor market gaps and reduce geographic inequality. Another major advantage of remote work is that it spreads production across regions rather than concentrating economic opportunity in a small number of regions with expensive housing markets.
In a competitive labor market, it’s about more than just giving job seekers what they want. Employers now have the opportunity to hire candidates who were previously unreachable thanks to the transition to remote work. To diversify their workforce, companies should cast a wider net of suitable candidates when geographic and time constraints are removed.
If a recruiter knows that their company has historically struggled to find underrepresented candidates locally, they can use data to pinpoint regions with high concentrations of this talent, and then contact remote prospects to point them to remote opportunities.
According to a recent LinkedIn survey, the percentage of women seeking remote work has increased by 20%, while the percentage of women accepting an offer for remote work has increased by 10%. When we break down remote job applications by race, we find that the percentage of Latino applicants has increased by 16%, while the percentage of Black applicants has increased by 17%.
Thanks to the rapid expansion of remote work, more job opportunities are available to all workers, but especially to workers with impairments. One in four adults (61 million in the U.S. alone) has a disability, and for many, the workplace is a difficult challenge.
During recessions, however, opportunities dwindle quickly, and this group of job seekers is often left to fend for themselves. Remote work, however, has the ability to break this cycle and create new opportunities for people who can easily re-enter the economy.
How remote work can boost employment
Two important variables that appear to increase the employment rate of workers with disabilities and other groups facing barriers to employment are the tight labor market and the availability of remote work.
While the current decline in hiring casts a shadow over the short-term outlook for the economy, both issues are positive for longer-term opportunities to advance economic opportunities for people who face significant challenges in the labor market.
There is a risk that continued uncertainty and the potential economic downturn will undo our progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. However, remote work can be an effective tool for attracting, retaining, and developing top talent from all backgrounds.