As the coronavirus has spread, work has changed for many people. Prior to the outbreak, 29% of employees had the option to work from home. But in an ever-growing number of cities and states, quarantine restrictions mean that only “essential workers,” such as health care personnel and grocery store employees, can leave their homes to perform their jobs.

This leaves a significant portion of the population working remotely — many of them for the first time. Jobs once thought nearly impossible to do from home now must be adapted, as this is the only way many businesses can function in the new environment. Companies specializing in conferencing and communication tools, such as Zoom and Slack, are currently hiring as demand for their services skyrockets; with most U.S. schools closed, even preschool teachers are moving their operations online.

So how is the transition to remote work being reflected in job searches and postings? We sat down with Indeed economist Nick Bunker to see how job seekers and employers are responding to the changes.

Searches for remote work have doubled since February

Interest in jobs that offer remote work has jumped since the COVID-19 crisis began. In fact, since the beginning of February, searches including such terms as “remote work” and “work at home” have more than doubled, from 1.6% of all searches on Feb. 1 to 3.5% on March 22, and we continue to monitor this traffic closely. Though in certain industries, such as food service, remote work is nearly impossible, there are opportunities in others. 

According to Nick, “This may suggest that people who have recently lost their jobs are looking for opportunities to work safely in this new situation.”

A line graph that shows the increase in searches for remote jobs as a result of COVID-19.
This graph shows an increase in searches for “remote work” across the US, from February 1, 2020 through March 22, 2020.

But employers have been slower to catch up when it comes to advertising remote positions. 

Since early 2019, there has been a steady increase in job descriptions that advertise their remote-work options, “but this is part of a larger trend, not employers reacting to this crisis,” Nick notes.

A line graph that shows an increase in jobs advertising remote work.
This graph shows an increase in job postings that mention “work from home” or “remote” from January 2019 through March 14 2020.

What does this mean for employers?

Simply put, if a job can be done remotely, employers should advertise it. As Nick points out, he’s currently doing his job remotely, even though it wasn’t in his original job description. 

“If your company has open positions where remote work is possible but this isn’t included in the job posting, go back and edit the descriptions,” Nick advises. Especially in the short term, communicating these possibilities to job seekers could help increase applications. And your competition may already be offering work-from-home options.

Advertising remote capabilities is advantageous to employers in the long term, too. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, almost half of job seekers (47%) said that whether a company had a remote-work policy was an important factor in choosing a job. 

What does this mean for job seekers?

For those looking for a job, things might feel challenging in the short term. However, the increasing number of searches for remote work shows that job seekers are adapting to the current climate. 

In the long term, Nick says, “Now that many job seekers have experienced being forced to shelter in their homes, they may end up favoring a remote-work option, if for no other reason than job security, if we ever find ourselves in this type of situation again.”

Indeed has never been more committed to our mission of helping job seekers and employers. Look to us in the coming weeks to continue to provide up-to-date information you can use in this unique time.

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