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The future of work after COVID-19

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In a recent publication, McKinsey dives into the implications of the pandemic on the future of a variety of jobs. 

The pandemic accelerated existing trends in remote work, e-commerce, and automation, with up to 25 percent more workers than previously estimated potentially needing to switch occupations.

COVID-19 has accelerated three broad trends that may reshape work after the pandemic recedes

  1. Remote work and virtual meetings are likely to continue, albeit less intensely than at the pandemic’s peak
  2. E-commerce has grown 2-3 times faster than before the pandemic
  3. Faster adoption of automation and AI, especially in work arenas with high physical proximity

The mix of occupations may shift, with little job growth in low-wage occupations. Different mix of occupations may emerge after the pandemic across the eight economies. Compared to our pre-COVID-19 estimates, we expect the largest negative impact of the pandemic to fall on workers in food service and customer sales and service roles, as well as less-skilled office support roles. Jobs in warehousing and transportation may increase as a result of the growth in e-commerce and the delivery economy, but those increases are unlikely to offset the disruption of many low-wage jobs. 

Companies and policymakers can help facilitate workforce transitions and should pay special attention to impact on low-wage and young workers. These trends increase the urgency for businesses and policymakers to take steps to support additional training and education programs for workers.


Authors Susan Lund, Washington, DC Anu Madgavkar, Mumbai James Manyika, San Francisco Sven Smit, Amsterdam Kweilin Ellingrud, Minneapolis Mary Meaney, Paris Olivia Robinson, 

London February 2021



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