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There’s been plenty of doom and gloom content about COVID-19—and rightfully so. This is a serious problem that won’t be disappearing any time soon.

But we need to look beyond the current news cycle and think about what happens when we come out the other side of this pandemic. While the immediate future of work may seem bleak, trends in remote work and remote hiring can alleviate unemployment pressure over the long term and offer some light at the end of this tunnel.

The Short-Term Impact of COVID-19

The unemployment rate is skyrocketing in the wake of COVID-19 quarantines, self-isolation, and economic disruption. According to the latest reports from the Federal Reserve, we should expect to see the unemployment rate reach 32% in Q2 2020 as 47 million people are displaced from their jobs.

This may seem impossible given the rapid transition to remote work as stay-at-home mandates are issued. So much content is being published about how business leaders can successfully make the transition to remote work. According to a Gallup study, 43% of U.S. employees already worked remotely some or all of the time. For companies supporting those employees, the shift to full-time remote work may not be so daunting. But for the 57% of companies that have no work from home policies or processes in place, the immediate transition can be jarring.

As rough as the shift to remote work might be, business leaders and employees are making it work. However, the reality is that just 56% of U.S. job functions are compatible with remote work right now, which is contributing heavily to the unemployment numbers.

Luckily, the tech sector is well suited for remote work. While your business likely isn’t immune to employment challenges the way the healthcare sector is, you may not be seeing the spike in layoffs that other industries are suffering from. Still, you’ll still feel the immediate impact of COVID-19.

What will happen with unemployment rates over the long term, though? For technology positions, remote work is poised remedy unemployment challenges.

How Remote Work Can Alleviate Tech Unemployment

All signs point to the coronavirus pandemic sparking a faster transition to remote jobs as the future of work. Now that so many employees and business leaders see that full-time remote work is possible, it’s more likely that the policies remain in place for the long term.

One article offers insight into the transition from Matt Mullenweg, chief executive of WordPress and Tumblr, owner of Automattic, and remote work advocate:

“This is not how I envisioned the distributed work revolution taking hold,’ said Matt Mullenweg… Mullenweg’s company is already ‘distributed’, and he predicts the changes ‘might also offer an opportunity for many companies to finally build a culture that allows long-overdue work flexibility.

“Millions of people will get the chance to experience days without long commutes or the harsh inflexibility of not being able to stay close to home when a family member is sick… This might be a chance for a great reset in terms of how we work.”

Discussions about the future of work and the benefits of working from home often revolve around the employee experience. How can remote work make employees more productive, engaged, and satisfied?

But if we’re looking for a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, the value of remote work isn’t just in its employee experience benefits—it’s in the ability to distribute talent more widely.

Even as remote work goes mainstream, studies still show that tech innovation and employment is highly concentrated in the United States. A 2019 report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation found that 90% of innovation sector employment growth over the last 15 years was generated in five major cities—Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, and San Jose.

If you go the extra mile to embrace a distributed workforce, you’ll unlock a win-win scenario for your business and a talent pool largely disrupted by COVID-19. On your end, you’ll widen your pool of potential candidates and give yourself an opportunity to create an engineering team full of the best possible talent. And on the job seeker side, displaced workers around the country will have much more opportunities to apply for the best openings no matter where they live.

The aftermath of COVID-19 will require tech hiring teams to adapt to the remote work revolution. That means supporting fully remote candidates, not just work from home benefits for on-site hires. This introduces a number of new hiring challenges, but we’ve built the Codility platform to help you work through them. Our platform consists of:

  • CodeCheck: Design role-specific online skills assessments to screen candidates remotely.
  • CodeLive: Host live technical interviews remotely via a shared editor using a range of templates and whiteboards.
  • For Employees: Map the skills of existing engineering teams, identify areas of opportunity for L&D, and track the progress of adopting new technologies.
  • Challenges: Maximize your impact at events or host online coding competitions to source new talent.

Remote hiring is a key part of the future of work and it seems like companies will be forced to adapt faster than they expected. But the transition doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.

If you want to learn more to brace yourself for more remote work and hiring, download our guide to remote-first hiring.

Roy Solomon is Chief Revenue Officer at Codility, and an expert in the future of work. Roy leads Codility’s customer-facing teams and advises TA and Engineering leaders from around the world build their technical hiring and retention plans.

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