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IPA Launches Podcast Series on Future of Remote Work

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Trinity Logistics’ Sarah Ruffcorn kicks off first episode with advice to maintain cohesion, culture, and productivity

A man sits at a table talking with his hands during a virtual video conference call with his colleagues.

​While remote work has proved popular and could be more prevalent in the future, the transition presents significant challenges for businesses, workers, and the community at-large. The Future of Remote Work series seeks to shed light on what we know so far about the prevalence and impacts of remote work, while spurring the conversation, reflection, and action necessary to make this emerging reality work well for Delaware.​ (Photo Credit: Surface on UnSplash)

In March 2020, millions of Americans began working from home on a regular basis. While public health concerns prompted this shift, emerging evidence suggests that remote work is likely to persist for many companies and employees post-pandemic. In light of these trends, the University of Delaware's Institute for Public Administration (IPA) launched a new podcast series to explore how the future of remote work might impact businesses, workers, and communities in Delaware and beyond.

While there is considerable uncertainty about the future extent and characteristics of remote work, many employees seem to like working remotely. YouGov's January 2021 Remote Worker Survey found that 83% of remote workers like working from home and 76% of current remote workers want to continue working remotely after the pandemic.

Employee preference alone is unlikely to dictate the future balance of remote and in-person work, but company investments and plans indicate that remote work is unlikely to be a passing fad. PwC's Summer 2020 CEO Panel Survey reports that many executives are making lasting changes to their business model that will endure in a post-COVID world:

  • 61% have digitized core businesses operations,
  • 41% are increasing their share of remote workers,
  • 78% see remote collaboration as a practice that will continue in a post-COVID world, and
  • 87% report shifts to their real estate strategy, including consolidating office space in premier business districts and opening satellite offices in suburbs.

With employer plans and worker sentiments in mind, Dr. Adam Ozimek projected in Upwork's December 2020 Future Workforce Report that 36.2 million Americans will work remotely by 2025, up from 16.8 million before the pandemic.

While remote work has proved popular and could be more prevalent in the future, the transition presents significant challenges for businesses, workers, and the community at-large. Businesses have to adapt workflows while maintaining culture and determining the roles best suited for remote work. Employees report struggling with work/life balance and isolation from colleagues. On the societal level, remote work has the potential to significantly affect transportation patterns, real estate markets, and land uses in urban, suburban, and rural settings. The benefits of remote work might also accrue more to high-skilled employees, potentially exacerbating existing economic and social inequalities.

The Future of Remote Work series seeks to shed light on what we know so far about the prevalence and impacts of remote work, while spurring the conversation, reflection, and action necessary to make this emerging reality work well for Delaware. To kick off the podcast series, Trinity Logistics President Sarah Ruffcorn joined IPA Associate Director Troy Mix for an episode of First State Insights on Managing Remote Work. Sarah spoke about the adjustments that she and her team made at the onset of the pandemic and the strategies and approaches they've employed to maintain cohesion, culture, and productivity in the remote work environment.

Upcoming episodes in the series include conversations with Ryan Conner (MPA '04), Principal with Tactix Real Estate Advisors, and Dr. Adam Ozimek, Chief Economist at Upwork.

To learn more about IPA's focus on the Future of Remote Work or suggest topics or interview guests for the series, contact Troy Mix​.

Article by Collin Willard

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The Future of Remote Work series seeks to shed light on what we know so far about the prevalence and impacts of remote work, while spurring the conversation, reflection, and action necessary to make this emerging reality work well for Delaware.
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IPA Launches Podcast Series on Future of Remote Work