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Is The Economy Going Remote?
There are over 26 newly unemployed Americans since the Coronavirus pandemic began. That means that 16% of America’s labor force is now without a job, and current trends indicate that unemployment numbers could get significantly worse in the near future.
With all those unemployed Americans, you’d think that people would be frantically searching for and applying for new jobs. After all, some of America’s largest businesses have been deemed essential businesses, and are desperately in need of additional staff. Walmart has hired 200,000 people since the pandemic began, and Amazon has hired 175,000. Those two are among America’s largest employers, but the same effect is likely being felt by smaller essential businesses across the nation too.
But job board activity doesn’t show increasing numbers of people searching for jobs. In fact, the reality is that the world’s most popular online job boards have actually seen a drop in website visitors during the month of March. Well, sort of. There’s one type of job board that is seeing record website traffic, while all the others have lost out. Remote job boards.
Indeed is the world’s largest job board. The website got over 400 million visits during January, and consistently ranks among the world’s 100 most popular websites. But in March, Indeed saw their largest drop in website visitors in the last 6 months, which includes the first 15 days of serious Coronavirus job cuts.
That month, site traffic fell 15% to a 6-month low of 339 million visitors.
Glassdoor and Ziprecruiter suffered similar drops in visitor traffic during March. Both sites are among America’s most popular job sites, and should also be strong indicators of employment interest.
During March, site traffic fell 13% on Glassdoor, and 6% on Ziprecruiter.
While the world’s largest job boards are suffering from lower usage, there is one particular job board niche that is thriving. Remote job boards.
We Work Remotely is perhaps the largest job board entirely dedicated to remote workers. The website only gets around 750,000 visits each month, but dominates the remote hiring landscape, with an affinity for tech startups. In March, We Work Remotely saw by far their highest traffic in the last six months.
They had 912,000 visitors, a 25% increase over February’s numbers.
RemoteOK and NoDesk are competitors to We Work Remotely, and saw the exact same trend of increasing usage during the first (partial) month of the Coronavirus economic shutdown.
RemoteOK usage was up 30% in March, and NoDesk usage was up 17%.
It’s too early to say what the long-term impacts of Coronavirus will be on global work patterns. Obviously remote workers are the only workers that can truly keep up with their daily routines in today’s job environment. That advantage won’t last forever, because on-site jobs represent a majority of economic activity in America.
And there’s good reason for that. The global economy hinges on face-to-face interactions, manufacturing, and transportation.
But just because on-site jobs are necessary, doesn’t mean there aren’t on-site jobs that could be done remotely.
Coronavirus is a global experiment where large swaths of knowledge workers are being forced to learn how to work from home.
The circumstances aren’t ideal, but knowledge workers for the most part are figuring out how to get by. Slack, which primarily worked out of offices until March, actually reported their most productive week ever when they were forced to work from home.
And Slack probably isn’t the only one. Companies that employ lawyers, traders, marketers, and people in many other knowledge roles have to be seriously considering the value of their offices. Are all-glass skyscraper offices in the heart of Manhattan really necessary to do great work? Are they worth the massive monthly rent costs?
For some companies, the answer will still be yes, but others are finding out by navigating a global pandemic that the answer may be no. So while the surge in remote job interest may not continue once America re-opens, a seed has been planted in the heads of CEOs everywhere that maybe their company can be run remotely.
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