A recent report by DocuSign reveals that we have entered an era that is poised for considerable business growth and the potential to experience new levels of productivity.
The research, undertaken by think tank Economist Impact, reveals insights from two global surveys across ten countries to gauge the sentiments and experiences among consumers and executives in the U.S., Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK, Brazil, Mexico and Canada, as well as new econometric models that forecast the potential impacts of the anywhere economy in these countries.
The report reveals that both executives (59%) and consumers (47%) expect the anywhere economy will continue to accelerate, with an overall positive impact on job creation, a broadened range of online services, and improved equity and well-being.
Driving economic growth through enhanced productivity and innovation
The report shows the anywhere economy will catalyze economic growth by boosting productivity and spurring innovation. In fact, more than three-quarters of surveyed executives agree that the flexibility to work at any time and from any location has increased productivity. Innovations, new product demands, and transformation of how commercial relationships are conducted can also improve workers’ productivity at the micro level.
According to the report forecast, the anywhere economy has the potential to boost productivity growth, defined as the gross domestic product (GDP) per worker:
- As the anywhere economy expands, productivity will grow in all ten countries, increasing at an average rate of 10 percent from 2021 to 2030.
- The top 5 countries with the biggest increases are the UK (12%), Canada (11%) Germany (11%), France (10%) and the US (10%).
- The anywhere economy is estimated to add $2.6 trillion to the combined GDP of the ten countries in 2030, and add a cumulative amount of $19.4 trillion for the period 2022-30.
Business expenditure on R&D in all ten countries is also estimated to increase significantly, capturing growth ranging from 29 percent to 51 percent in 2030 compared with 2021 levels. The top 5 countries with the biggest increase are the UK (51%), France (47%), Germany (44%), the US (44%) and Canada (42%).
Expanding the talent pool and capitalizing on dei
The rise of hybrid work enabled organisations to consider candidates from a wider geographic range and introduced new opportunities for historically underrepresented individuals. The majority (77%) of executives agree that the anywhere economy has had a positive impact on their ability to hire from a wider pool of candidates, while more than 60 percent said they hired workers in new locations because of the possibility of remote working.
At the same time, the flexibility to work remotely improved experiences for groups such as women, working parents, older adults, and individuals with disabilities, encouraging them to stay engaged in the workforce for longer.
Two-thirds of executives reported that the adoption of remote work and increased digitalization have contributed to diversifying the workforce, and more than three-quarters agreed that flexible work schedules made their workforce more diverse and equitable. According to the report’s forecasts, the anywhere economy will:
- bring an additional 25 million women into the labour force in 2030 alone, and the average female labour force participation rate will be nearly 60 percent – up from 55 percent in 2021.
- bring an additional 10 million people aged 65+ into the labour force in 2030 alone.
Shifting economic power among rural and urban environments
The anywhere economy is shifting economic power for rural and urban residents, with people aspiring to relocate due to increased flexibility and connectivity. Workers are now persuaded that moving to smaller cities may give them better housing and comparable access to education and amenities without a consistent time-consuming commute to the office.
- Nearly 60 percent of consumers, for example, say they would want to live in a different place if cost, work and community ties were not barriers.
- One-in-four people seek nomadic opportunities and would prefer to continuously travel all over the world.
- A staggering 17 percent of companies have moved their offices from a large city to the suburbs and 25 percent shrank the size of their premises. One-third of companies also opened more satellite offices.
This migration is also spurring economic growth in rural areas with projections that an additional 2.6 million jobs will be created in rural areas, in the ten countries studied, in the year 2030 alone. The U.S. will see the largest increase in job creation in rural areas with 860,000 new jobs in 2030.
Productivity and making the “anywhere economy” a reality
The benefits of the anywhere economy can only be realized if new systems are built on a foundation of trust. There is an implicit trust in permitting employees to work away from where they can be supervised directly, likewise in signing a contract with a supplier on a different continent or purchasing a product online without seeing it in person.
Deepening trust at all levels including in digital systems and technology, information, employees and employers, and between consumers and the online companies they patronize, is critical for the expansion of the anywhere economy.
Allan Thygesen, Chief Executive Officer, DocuSign, says:
“At DocuSign, we believe that technology can and should be a force for good, a way to lift people up and bring people together.
“To realize the extraordinary surge in productivity and expansion of the global economy that’s possible over the coming decade, leaders will need to embark on a new journey that’s rooted in innovation, transformation, and ultimately trust in our digital future.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.