Most ‘Knowledge Workers’ Should Be Working Remotely By The End Of 2021

By the end of this year, just over half (51 percent) of knowledge workers—i.e., those who are involved in knowledge-intensive occupations, such as writers, accountants or engineers—are expected to be working remotely. This projection from Gartner represents an upward shift from the 27 percent of knowledge workers working remotely in 2019.

Gartner also estimates that remote workers—employees working away from their company, government or customer site at least one full day per week or who work fully from home—will represent 32 percent of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021. This is up from 17 percent of employees in 2019.

“A hybrid workforce is the future of work, with both remote and on-site part of the same solution to optimize employers’ workforce needs,” says Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.

Remote working varies considerably around the world depending on IT adoption, culture and mix of industries. In 2022, 31 percent of all workers worldwide will be remote—a mix of hybrid and fully remote. The U.S. will lead in terms of remote workers in 2022, accounting for 53 percent of the U.S. workforce. Across Europe, U.K. remote workers will represent 52 percent of its workforce in 2022, while remote workers in Germany and France will account for 37 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Gartner notes that India and China will produce some of the largest numbers of remote workers, but their overall penetration rates will remain relatively low with 30 percent of workers in India being remote and 28 percent of workers in China working remote.

The lasting impact of remote work is resulting in a reassessment of the IT infrastructure that shifts buyer requirements to demand work-anywhere capabilities. Atwal says, “Through 2024, organizations will be forced to bring forward digital business transformation plans by at least five years. Those plans will have to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world that involves permanently higher adoption of remote work and digital touchpoints.”

A hybrid workforce will continue to increase the demand for PCs and tablets. In 2021, PC and tablet shipments will exceed 500 million units for the first time in history, highlighting the demand across both business and consumer markets. Organizations also deployed cloud services to quickly enable remote workers. Gartner forecasts worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow 23.1 percent in 2021 as CIOs and IT leaders continue to prioritize cloud-delivered applications.

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