While most of us have been finding ways to adjust to working outside of the office, researchers have been busy studying it. Many are wondering, what is the future of remote working? What researchers have learned through studying trends and reactions about remote work may surprise you. Read on for some of the top insights into the future of remote work and how your business can adapt accordingly.
1. The percentage of people working remotely is only expected to increase
The trend of people working outside of the office setting is expected to continue. Forbes recently highlighted a survey that found that working remotely was expected to double in 2021. Looking further into the future, it’s predicted that 70% of the workforce will be working remotely by 2025.
Large tech companies, always the leaders in innovation, have already responded in kind. Facebook, Shopify, Twitter, Dropbox, and Spotify are just a few of the tech giants that have implemented policies that allow employees who want to continue working remotely to do so into the future. And these changes aren’t only affecting the tech industry – outdoor retailer REI announced they would be selling their brand new Washington campus before it even opens, preferring instead to embrace remote work.
2. Some industries have better potential for future remote work than others
A recent study by McKinsey & Company found that the potential for successful remote work relies on several factors, with industry type having the most impact on remote work’s success in an organization. The finance and insurance sectors are well suited to accommodate remote work, followed by management, business services, and information technology.
Industries that have the least potential to integrate remote work into their future are ones that rely on physical care, labor, or the operation of machinery, like a construction worker or a dialysis nurse, and tasks that rely on collaboration and have a greater impact on success when done in person, like an elementary school teacher. Overall, however, the sectors that have the most potential for remote work are concentrated with workers with college degrees or higher.
3. Productivity doesn’t have to suffer when working remotely
How to monitor and improve productivity when working remotely has been a large area of concern for managers and other business leaders who were thrown into the work-from-home waters headfirst. The data now proves it – we can work remotely without losing productivity. In fact, many people report feeling more productive when working outside of the office, and employers report feeling more confident in staff productivity as the popularity of remote work increases.
The right digital solutions also make a difference, so companies should choose virtual platforms that meet their unique needs – be it in the field, at home, or in the conference room.
4. A remote work plan requires frequent, robust communication
For most companies, having employees work remotely in the future will require an in-depth revision of many processes and policies, along with a plan to communicate these changes.
According to McKinsey and Company, the lack of communication around future of work planning is a high source of anxiety for over half or remote workers, leading to lower levels of employee satisfaction and productivity, adding that businesses who have clearly articulated policies around their future of work plans have noticed employee productivity and well-being on the rise. Even if the future is uncertain or policies are undecided, employees expect to be kept abreast of updates.
5. A remote work plan requires a different type of performance management
Forbes predicts that “rethinking how goals are set and identifying key performance metrics will be critical to managing remote workers in the new normal”. Employee well-being and engagement will be essential factors when it comes to delivering high-quality work performances. Part of that can be achieved through thoughtful digital planning. Smart meetings and other video conferencing solutions have a variety of features that keep attendees engaged and can be leveraged to accelerate communication and collaboration, as well as schedule private, one on one time for ongoing feedback.
6. A hybrid work model may be the way to go
While remote work is an umbrella term for work completed outside of the office, many companies are turning to a hybrid model to compromise between the demands of the business and the desires of their employees.
Simply speaking, a hybrid work model combines remote working with time in the office. Target, Ford, Microsoft, and Amazon have all announced plans to implement a hybrid work model in the future. A hybrid model may offer the best of both worlds – it can mean lower business costs for the company while still keeping its employees happy, healthy, and motivated. As with any remote work, however, staff are at risk of burnout, so companies need to take care that their digital communication plans are just as solid as if their business were fully remote.
7. Digital investment is critical to the future success of remote work
Because productivity is the key to the future of remote work, businesses need to invest in digital solutions that allow staff to work and collaborate efficiently. Nothing brings productivity to a screeching halt faster than slow networks, insufficient software, or cumbersome hardware.
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