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Remote workers use time saved to invest in you

Search Remotely Remote Work Upskilling

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) analyzed economic data of  full time remote workers  of 27 counties working from home. The economists used an average work week of 46 hours (40 hours plus an estimated six hours of  total weekly commuting time) while living in 27 countries. The economists concluded that remote workers shaved off approximately two hours (rounded from 2.6% estimated hours worked) per week on work-related commuting time in 2021 and 2022.

Average commute time saved working from home

Country-by-country data demonstrated the following time savings:

  • 51 minutes saved in Serbia,
  • 54 minutes saved in Poland,
  • 55 minutes saved in United States
  • 99 minutes  saved in India,
  • 100 minutes saved in Japan, and
  • 102 minutes saved in China

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Percent of time remote workers re-invested commute time in company

What percentage of the time saved did the remote workers working from home re-invest back into their primary and secondary jobs?

  • 53% of the time savings in Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan
  • Less than 35% in Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, Poland and Spain

We know that most remote workers, regardless of the country in which they live re-invest upwards of 35% to 53% of the time saved from nixing the commute back into their companies. What about re-investing the roughly 6.0 hours weekly back into yourself? Your own professional development? What about investing time saved into upskilling to help secure your job and to improve future employment prospects?

80% of CEOs determine lifelong learning imperative for success

In 2018, Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a study of CEO attitudes and found that 80% of top business leaders determined that learning new skills and lifelong learning was economically imperative for success. While the importance of professional development is critical to business and individual success, it has been shown that knowledge workers, in particular, schedule in just five short minutes for formal learning daily.

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Innovative companies suggest 20% of time devoted to upskilling

Five minutes of time devoted solely for upskilling and professional development is antithetical to the mantra of old. For instance, in 2017 Forbes in their article, “Do we need to set aside time for learning at work?’ wrote that innovative companies such as Google and 3M had a stated employee policy whereby,

We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google.

Thinking outside of the box, expanding one’s perspective beyond the hum drum of everyday experience helps to drive innovation. This is definitely true for knowledge workers.

Upskilling vital to knowledge workers

What do knowledge workers do? According to Wikipedia, knowledge workers are people who handle or use information to carry out tasks related to their job. Typical occupations considered in this job category are: lawyers, accountants, computer programmers, medical physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, designers, editors and researchers.

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In essence, knowledge workers generally proliferate the ranks of the remote working workforce, work from home and work from anywhere freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors. In 2020, Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted a follow up study of the original 2013 research finding the following:

  • Work from home knowledge workers spent 12% less time participating in large meetings
  • Remote workers devoted 9% more time interacting with customers and external stakeholders
  • Knowledge workers working from home exercised the personal autonomy (at a 50% rate) to self select specific activities for which to focus
  • Remote workers (at 8% rate) focused on specific tasks because a colleague requested that they do so
  • Work from home knowledge workers spent 36% of the time focused on a mission critical task related to their work
  • Knowledge workers working from home focused on a mission critical task at a 6% rate spontaneously

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Time devoted to upskilling remains relatively unchanged from 2013 to 2020

The 33% rate at which remote workers attributed their work time allocated to focusing on ‘desk-work’ remained the same (before and after Covid-19). What was most intriguing, however, was the finding that remote workers spent slightly more time on training and professional development in 2020 in comparison to 2013. Though the amount was not statistically significant.

Do you wonder why this was the case?

88% of workers believe upskilling the responsibility of their employer

BMC conducted a survey of over 3,200 employee attitudes situated in 12 countries in 2017.  A whopping 88% (almost 90%) deemed professional development the sole responsibility of their employer!!  According to the survey findings, workers placed more responsibility on employers to teach them the skills required to succeed in a digital economy.” At the present time in 2022, this loser attitude is unfathomable!

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It was clear, the HBR research uncovered the persistent frustration of remote workers. Work from home employees were “worried about their own development.” But what did they do about it? What can you do to ameliorate your worries about your future job prospects as a remote worker working from home?

Remote workers and knowledge workers should invest in soft skills

Based upon the findings published in the Forbes article, suggests that remote workers could invest in themselves and their futures using the commuting time saved in this manner:

Invest in soft skills such as:

  • leadership,
  • creativity,
  • emotional intelligence,
  • and critical thinking.

Investment in soft skills may result in the lowered risk of job loss due to AI

Forbes suggests that an investment in professional development and the learning for soft skills may reduce the likelihood of one’s job being lost to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.  Further, the study estimates that the doubling of these soft skills may lead to a fall in the total number of jobs lost to automation from a high of 10% to manageable 4%.





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