The next phase of remote work will be even more disruptive

-A labour economist argues that remote work will transform economies, as companies must revise policies to accommodate remote employees.

-Adam Ozimek spoke to Quartz about the next phase of remote work.

As jarring as the transition to remote work was during the coronavirus pandemic, it was modest compared to what’s coming next, says Adam Ozimek, a labor economist at the freelancing platform Upwork. He argues that the next phase of remote work will transform economies, as more companies revise their policies to accommodate employees who have permanently shifted to working remotely, and more workers move to places they’ve always wanted to live but couldn’t.

Ozimek and the team at Upwork have conducted surveys on remote work since the pandemic’s start, and his outlook is based partly on those results. He predicts that remote-first startups will figure out new ways of working asynchronously, making fully-remote work more manageable than the version we use today. And he expects economic geography to shift in big ways, with workers free to live wherever they want to—from hometowns to ski towns—instead of wherever they work.

Quartz spoke to Ozimek about what the next iteration of remote work could look like. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

“They’ll rely less on PowerPoint culture and more on written culture.”

What is the story of remote work so far, since the pandemic?

Adam Ozimek: The number one thing that’s happened is that a lot of businesses and a lot of workers have found that remote work works better than they thought. You can see this in surveys of workers, you can see it in surveys of employers—basically everyone has figured out that this way of working is a lot more productive than they thought. There are a lot of important benefits to this way of working, and it makes sense as a longstanding change not just a short-term adaptation for a lot of roles.

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