Jobs and the Future of Work

These sectors are suitable for remote working digital jobs

Video call meeting. Caption: Rising remote work: Our new whitepaper predicts that 92 million jobs will be able to be done entirely remotely in 2030.

Rising remote work: Our new whitepaper predicts that 92 million jobs will be able to be done entirely remotely in 2030. Image: Unsplash/Rivage

Elselot Hasselaar
Head, Work Wages and Job Creation; Interim Head Education, Skills and Learning, World Economic Forum
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  • Global digital jobs can enhance labour supply and demand matching, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest white paper, Realizing the Potential of Global Digital Jobs.
  • It offers a framework for overcoming the technical, professional and ethical issues confronting organizations looking to recruit digital remote workers.
  • One solution is for public-private partnerships to help mobilize resources as well as share the financial burden.

The early years of the 2020s have ushered in a revolution in working practices for millions of people around the world. Business may not have needed yet another three-letter acronym, but the pandemic introduced us to WFH, and for many, working from home is now the norm—at least for part of the week.

In addition to the mindset that we can now be just as productive doing our jobs from the kitchen table, along came frontier digital technologies like cloud computing, desktop video conferencing and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies enable collaboration with colleagues on the other side of the world as if they were on the other side of the office.

Have you read?

These new ways of working, if managed effectively, offer benefits, according to the latest research from the World Economic Forum, in partnership with digital technology consultants Capgemini. Our white paper, Realizing the Potential of Global Digital Jobs, predicts that 92 million jobs will be able to be done entirely remotely in 2030, up from 73 million today.

A demographic shift in the digital workforce

It’s not just the number of people working remotely that’s changing. Increasingly, the people with the right skills and qualifications to succeed in remote digital jobs will be based in lower-middle-income countries, the white paper finds. This opens up opportunities for countries with skills gaps to hire workers remotely to help them fill vacancies.

The World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey aggregates the views of over 10,000 executives on the availability of people with various skills across countries – ranking from 1 (lowest skills availability) to 7 (highest skills availability).

Skill Shortage and Surplus
Remote digital workers in lower-income countries could help to close skills gaps. Image: Realizing the Potential of Global Digital Jobs, World Economic Forum

For example, the table above shows that employers in Germany and Belgium find it challenging to recruit enough workers with creativity and problem-solving skills, with a survey rating of just 4.3 out of a maximum rating of 7. These countries also have relatively low labour underutilization, meaning fewer people are available to fill vacancies. However, with scores of 5.8 and 5.3, respectively, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have a surplus of people with these skills and more people available to work.

Which sectors are most suited to remote working?

The latest white paper builds on previous research published in January 2024, The Rise of Global Digital Jobs. This paper looked into the sectors that will lead in remote digital working by 2030.

2024 job groupings
The sectors most likely to employ remote digital workers by 2030. Image: The Rise of Global Digital Jobs, World Economic Forum

As the table above shows, many of the potential digital jobs exist in the accounting, legal and finance sectors. IT services are another potential employer of remote workers. Others include the health sector, the marketing, advertising and communications industry, as well as cybersecurity and other related professions.

Overcoming barriers and mitigating risks

A shift to remote working does not come without barriers and risks. The latest white paper offers a framework for overcoming the technical, professional and ethical issues confronting organizations looking to recruit remote digital workers.

The growth in remote digital jobs will require skills training and technical solutions
The growth in remote digital jobs will require skills training and technical solutions Image: World Economic Forum

A barrier for would-be remote workers is access to corporate computer hardware and high-speed internet services to connect them. One solution for hardware is to allow workers to use their own devices, but in some countries – Nigeria, for example – only 38% of households own a computer. Some countries, such as Brazil, are offering government support to increase the level of computer ownership.

Investing in the infrastructure for high-speed internet is another priority for facilitating the growth of global remote working. The white paper suggests “public-private partnerships can help mobilize resources and expertise and share the financial burden”.

Additionally, globally distributed work teams risk facing downward wage pressure and issues with work-life balance. In order to ensure fair wages on the employer side, it’s critical to ensure the global digital workforce is targeted towards attracting talent rather than saving costs.

To better facilitate a healthy work-life balance in remote working, the white paper suggests, “promoting an inclusive work environment through initiatives such as career support and encouraging community engagement is decisive for nurturing employee wellbeing and satisfaction”.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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