There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way we work. A new report released in December by Upwork, the world’s largest work marketplace, finds that nearly 42 percent of the American workforce remains remote as we enter the tenth month of the pandemic, and more than 36 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025 — an 87-percent increase from pre-pandemic numbers.
In addition to where we’re working, the pandemic has changed what it is that we’re actually doing. Companies like social media giant Facebook are hiring remote-specific senior roles like director of remote work to help manage the remote employee work experience, writes Gwen Moran for Fast Company. While some companies have always had positions like these in their organizational structure, their growing prevalence is indicative of the new ways we’re working and the new roles we’ll need to succeed. Here are some other roles we’ll see emerge in 2021 and beyond.
The Rise of ‘Work From Anywhere’
The increase in people working from home has led to an increase in people deciding exactly where they want home to be — without corporate influence. “Without question, the [work-from-anywhere] model offers notable benefits to companies and their employees. Organizations can reduce or eliminate real estate costs, hire and use talent globally while mitigating immigration issues, and, research indicates, perhaps enjoy productivity gains. Workers get geographic flexibility (that is, live where they prefer to), eliminate commutes, and report better work/life balance,” writes Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury for the Harvard Business Review.
The Rise in Logistics, Warehouse, and E-Commerce Jobs
As stay-at-home orders continue around the country, e-commerce has exploded. UPS reported that e-commerce spending in the U.S. grew by 93 percent year-over-year in May 2020 — and shows no signs of slowing down. As a result, companies that specialize in shipping logistics and warehousing have seen a boom in demand and growth. “Even as the overall job market shed 140,000 jobs in December, employment in transportation and warehousing rose by 47,000. [D]ata also confirm that logistics, warehouse, and supply chain professional demand is growing across the board,” writes Moran. In addition, retail companies are hiring new roles that focus on safely and efficiently executing e- commerce, such as “social media, search engine optimization, and digital marketing specifically related to e-commerce functions,” writes Moran.
The Rise in the Environmental Sector
The Jan. 20 presidential inauguration signifies a shift in policy and priorities, and job site Monster predicts that there will be an increase in jobs in the environmental sector — ranging from energy auditors to environmental engineers and scientists to solar sales representatives and assessors — as the Biden administration gets underway. “Trends we anticipate seeing in the new year are a continuation of the crisis as it extends into this year. In addition, growth in environmental jobs is based on what happens in the new Congress. The environmental jobs are based on the Biden administration’s commitment to green jobs,” the company said in a statement.
The Rise in Culture
As much as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the how we work, it wasn’t the only major motivating change factor in 2020. The past year brought renewed attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion roles within organizations, writes Moran, such as chief diversity officers and bias officers. “DEI has grown pretty dramatically in the last few years. Partly it’s because of social-political trends. But partly, it’s because there’s a growing awareness among executives, about the research about the business case for diversity and inclusion,” Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at career and company information website Glassdoor told Fast Company. “Today, there’s pretty clear academic work, showing companies make better decisions and enjoy better financial performance when they have more diverse voices.”
Angela Campiere is a freelance writer based in the Chicago area.