Lots of people have spent nearly two years working from home since the start of the pandemic. With an uncertain future for returning to the office, many in Wilmington are looking to keep working remotely, according to a LinkedIn study.
According to the website’s analysis, 21.3% of workers applying for jobs via LinkedIn nationally were looking for remote work. Wilmington ranked third-highest among small cities, with 35.9% of applications searching for remote work.
The study looked at a 12-month period ending August 2021. Only Bend, Oregon, and Asheville, North Carolina, had higher rates of remote applicants for small cities. The analysis included small cities with fewer than 100,000 people where at least 25,000 had applied for remote work.
“The pandemic has pushed people to look at remote options, and that opportunity may not have ever presented itself to these individuals,” said Rebecca Parsons, director of operations at The Mill, a coworking space with locations in downtown Wilmington and on Concord Pike. “I do think it’s opened people’s perspective to what they can do to make money.”
The Mill offers remote workers and entrepreneurs desks or office space with short-term lease options. The downtown location’s 30,000-square-foot space in the historic Nemours Building in Wilmington was at 100% capacity when the pandemic hit. The Mill Concord opened about two weeks before pandemic mandates went into place.
Now, as remote work seems destined to be in the mix for workers moving forward, The Mill Concord’s community manager, Andrew Larson, says they hope to take advantage of that.
“Companies are subsidizing their workers to find different ways of working. Rather than rent this huge building, companies are saying, ‘You know what, we’re going to cut that down. You can work at home for a year. Here’s some money. You can work from home or go find an office or find a different way,’” he said.
The Concord site is close to 40% full, including a remote worker for a company in Alaska.
“I know things have changed the last two years in the industry, and during that, people realize how much we can do from home,” he said. “I think a big part of that is just the doors have been opened to what’s possible, and people here are ready to look.”
Before the pandemic, LinkedIn says, national job applications for remote work made up just 2.8% of applications in January 2020. Parsons hopes the search for remote work translates to more business for coworking spots like The Mill.
“It was a catalyst, and I think we saw a pretty large increase in awareness of coworking spaces over this period of time that’s definitely kickstarting this increase in usage of spaces like ours,” she said. “But it is unpredictable, everything’s unpredictable, so we all just roll with the punches.”
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