The remote work revolution is with us and there is no pulling the breaks on the transformation of the workforce now. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that about 7% of US employees worked completely remotely, while around 37% of jobs could be done fully remotely. It is now estimated that at least 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least 25% of the time by 2025.

What this will look like on a global scale is unclear, but what we do know is that remote working is reshaping traditional work in profound ways. Even for those who do not work remotely, the values and expectations associated with remote working are reshaping how we think about work.

So, what will the future of work look like? Well, no one knows, since remote work is only one of the many pressures currently changing what work looks like. But, below are my top 10 predictions for how remote work will change the international workforce by 2025.


1. More people will choose to work remotely.

Now that remote working has become mainstream, more people will prioritize the ability to work remotely a significant amount of the time when assessing job opportunities. To attract talent, employers will have to respond to this valuation by ensuring that jobs that can be done remotely or hybrid are advertised and managed as such.

This will further accelerate the “remote first” approach to managing teams and see continued investment in the tools that enable distributed teams to collaborate. Managers who know how to make remote teams work will be in high demand.


2. Location-based pay will be abolished.

Location-based pay has long been common, with companies with multiple offices regularly paying staff that live in cities with a high cost of living, such as New York or San Francisco, more. Still today, many remote roles are tied to a certain geographic office and will be paid accordingly.

The remote work revolution will see this disappear. This, combined with the cost-of-living crisis, will continue to drive people out of the larger cities as they become unaffordable, and workers no longer need to live there. A CBRE report found that 15% more people left urban centers in 2020 than in 2019.


3. Contracts will change.

The nature of contracts will change. For many roles, specific working hours and even the number of working hours will be removed, though “core hours” for meetings and collaborative activities may be established.

Instead, contracts will focus on the deliverables and responsibilities of the role, giving the talent the autonomy to choose how their objectives are achieved. Contribution to company goals will be measured in new ways, assessing impact rather than hours.


4. Competition for roles will increase.

As geographic barriers are broken, talent will have more options when it comes to where they apply for jobs. This will make the most desirable jobs at the most attractive companies more competitive.

This, combined with increased use of AI and automation, may lead to a crisis for recent graduates seeking work. The professional field will eventually adjust, but it will prove a challenging time for graduates with expensive degrees but limited experience.


5. New categories of work visas will be established.

A barrier to global workforces is that companies can only employ talent in countries where they have bases of operations, and talent must be eligible to work in the country to which the job is linked.

While this gap is currently being bridged by third-party employment agencies with international operations that can employ globally on behalf of companies, soon countries will develop new classes of remote international work visas to control the global workforce while also allowing their companies to employ the best talent.


6. More people will work independently.

More people will choose to work for themselves and collaborate with companies on a project basis. This is attractive as it gives the talent more autonomy and allows them to pick and choose the projects that they work on.

While independent talent is likely to work on multiple projects with a limited pool of companies, this will also allow lessons learned and innovation to be shared across organizations.


7. The lines between work and leisure will become less clear

As remote work becomes the norm, the lines between work time and “home time” will become increasingly blurred. This is partly because the two will increasingly be done in the same place, the home. But it is also because we will block out time differently.

Rather than being at the office 9-5 every day, parents are likely to start after their children go to school, finish earlier when children come home, and then work again in the evening if necessary. Workers without children will restructure their days around other commitments.

In many ways, this will be a positive change for the work-life balance, but it will also be challenging for some workers to turn off and enjoy downtime when they aren’t committed elsewhere. This could further exacerbate the current workforce burnout crisis.


8. More people will travel while working

While not everyone will want to become a digital nomad and travel full-time while working, an increasing number will travel more while working, traveling for a couple of months of the year, or taking more frequent workations.

Companies will become better equipped to manage their relationships with traveling workers through genuine “work from anywhere” policies. This will be assisted by changes potential changes to international tax treaties that will make it easier to manage tax obligations for roaming citizens.


9. Internet speeds will increase

In response to more and more work and meetings happening online, there will be a high demand for faster internet speeds. Innovation will snowball in response to demand and investment, and high-speed, affordable, mobile internet will become the norm.

This will be accompanied by improved cybersecurity measures developed to ensure data is properly shared without leakage.


10. There will be increased inequality between workers

We will see increased inequality between workers as a divide emerges between remote workers with flexible schedules and service workers who must work on location. Both the conceptual and the real differences between business and service workers will increase.

But at the same time, service workers will become more important and have more dynamic roles as people who spend all their time online look for more fulfilling in-person engagements.


The Future of Work

There is a lot to look forward to in the future for work since, as a society, I believe we are turning away from the idea of working 8-10 hours a day and enjoying our “real lives” on the weekend.

Work and “life” are becoming more blurred, which can give us more time for ourselves. But it also makes what we do so much more important. Because it is no longer something that can be kept in a separate compartment as “what you do”, since is becoming more blended into our wider world.

This, and the ability to automate mundane tasks, will eventually lead to more fulfilling careers based on making a valuable contribution to society. But there will probably be a rough teething period. Our education system and approach to employment are tied to the old model, and these won’t change overnight to adapt to a new world, leaving many people without the skills that they need.

Inequality between the “thought” economy and the “service” economy will also increase, which may become the source of an existential crisis. At least that is my prediction. What are yours?