Is the future of the workplace remote? One of the main effects triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic was the huge increase in remote working and the fact that many organizations had to make an overnight shift to provide their teams with the environment and tools to work from home.
Now, one question remains: when the crisis fades away, will employees go back to the office or will prefer the work from home option? At Softlanding, we are convinced that the future of the workplace is remote.
The Evolution of Remote Work
For many years, working at the office was mandatory to land a job. Indeed, organizations did not have the technology and infrastructure to allow flexibility in their work environment, and many managers were convinced that proximity was the key to be productive and successful.
Remote work started to emerge about fifteen years ago but was mainly related to telemarketing and customer service positions and usually meant low wages.
Remote work has become popular thanks to technology advancement such as increasingly powerful smartphones, fast internet connections, and the rise of SaaS solutions and cloud-based storage which facilitated communication and collaboration.
Now, remote work has become so easy that some people do it without even thinking about it; when you check your emails on your phone during your vacation or take a conference call early in the morning before you head to the office.
If we think about it for a moment, remote work makes sense in the 21st century. In some of the biggest cities in the world (New-York, London, Sao Paolo, Los Angeles, Toronto, etc.), commuting for 2 hours to go to work has become normal. Additionally, the risings costs of urban housing, commuting, and commercial real estate are forcing both employers and employees to rethink their work options.
In this wake, remote work and flexible office space platforms such as Liquid Space, Breather, etc. are on the rise to provide an alternative to the traditional office.
Why the Future of the Workplace is Remote
Technological advancement has made remote work possible and even though the COVID-19 helped accelerate the modern workplace transformation, employees have already been turning to remote work for many years.
If we look at the numbers, we can see that remote work is no longer a trend:
- According to GetApp, the amount of people who work remotely at least once per week has grown by 400% since 2010.
- According to Owl Lab’s State of Remote Work 2019, 42% of employees with a remote work option plan to work remotely more often in the next five years.
- In the 2020 State of Remote Work conducted by Buffer, 98% of people would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers.
- A recent survey from Gartner reveals that post-pandemic, 41% of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time
- According to a new survey by Robert Half Canada Inc., 85% of Canadian workers want the option to keep working from home after coronavirus.
What’s in for Companies to take into account:
- A study done by Stanford showed that remote workers were about 13% more productive than their traditional office colleagues.
- Employees who work from home at least once a month are 24% more likely to feel happy and productive at work (Owl Labs)
- According to Flexjobs 2019 Annual survey, 69% of respondents said that flexible work options were one of the “most important factors” they consider when evaluating a job prospect.
- Remote work also helps improve retention rates by 10% so you can keep more of your top talent for longer.
- 69% of millennials would give up other work benefits for a more flexible working space (CBRE)
- According to PGi, the average real estate savings with full-time teleworkers is $10,000 per employee per year.
And the list goes on and on. To sum up, remote working brings many benefits to companies such as enhanced employee productivity, talent retention, and a reduction in office costs.
If you take a look at the downside of remote work, here is what you will find.
According to Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work, the biggest challenges faced by remote workers were ranked as follows:
- 20% Collaboration and Communication
- 20% Loneliness
- 18% not being able to unplug
To bridge the gap of collaboration and communication, organizations need to provide their employees with the right tools to enable high-quality communication, face-to-face interaction with video chats and recordings, real-time sharing and editing for project collaboration, and so forth.
The last two items can be tackled with a remote work policy to provide remote workers with guidelines and tips, train managers to manage remote workers, and foster effective team communication and collaboration. Additionally, you can also encourage social events and gatherings such as casual lunches and happy hours if some of your employees live close by.
Organizations could also leverage flexible office spaces to allow team members to meet when it is required.
On the employer’s side, building trust in order not to control remote workers is important. This might mean for some companies to establish a work culture based on results versus “chair time” and encourage multidirectional communication to facilitate collaboration and socialization.
Security and privacy have also become important issues due to the rise of malware and phishing attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. While enabling their employees to work from home, hackers have taken advantage of some security weaknesses to breach in. Now is the time for businesses to assess the security of their infrastructure, data, and devices and provide solid security training and measures if they want to have some peace of mind.
In conclusion, remote work is here to stay and the Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated this change. As Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, put it, “We have seen two year’s worth of digital transformation in two months.” The post-pandemic workplace will change and business leaders need to reinforce their recent efforts to enable productive and secure remote work if they want to remain competitive and attractive to the best talents. The future of the workplace is remote, whether it is implemented fully or partially, is the new normal and there is no going back to the traditional office as we knew it.
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