Remember when we all thought that this global lockdown would make us better humans? The world stopped, and we had a chance to reflect and clean up the mess in our lives in this quiet moment.
As usually happens, reality had different plans. Day-in and day-out, working parents had to take care of their kids and get used to new working models with barely a second to breathe. Teachers and team leaders had to find ways to do their work through a screen. And financial instability didn’t really leave room for spiritual reflection.
This time of uncertainty didn’t make us better human beings. On the flip side, last year was a battleground for companies and employees testing remote work models. As the world slowly tries to go back to old habits, what are remote workplace trends for the future?
The Current State Of Remote Workers
Over ten years ago, there was a time when remote work meant a position in telemarketing or customer service, usually below the minimum wage.
The situation today has changed radically. Between a global pandemic and the digitalization of infrastructures, remote work is the bread and butter for most of us. Thanks to evolutions in technology, it is possible to work anywhere with a good Internet connection.
And after several months of COVID restrictions, everyone seems to be getting used to a life of home offices and video conferencing. 48% of employees wear comfortable outfits during a call and 27% work from a terrace or garden.
Even with the vaccination campaign kicking off, many people would refuse an onsite position. 37% of remote employees would take a 10% pay cut to continue working remotely. Furthermore, 29% of remote workers would rather quit their jobs than go back to the office full-time.
Remote Work Statistics In 2021
Employees aren’t the only remote work enthusiasts. According to Gartner, 80% of businesses plan to expand remote work models. Usually, virtual positions relate to technology and digital marketing roles. Remote workplace trends, however, are impacting several fields and industries. Lately, Owl Labs reports that the industries with the highest number of remote workers are healthcare (15%), technology (10%), and financial services (9%).
By 2028, 73% of departments in different industries will integrate remote workers. As a recent Airtasker survey highlights, remote workers are more productive and effective in most cases. At home, people usually take longer breaks than in an office (22 minutes vs. 18 minutes), but they work an additional 10 minutes a day. Finally, distributed teams work 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees – almost 17 extra workdays a year.
On both sides of the coin, the future of the workforce is still adapting to the change in personal and professional habits. Even if it is impossible to predict what will happen fully, here are some trends shaping the future of the remote workforce.
6 Future Remote Workplace Trends To Watch Out
#1. Hybrid Models & Remote Work Friendly Policies
The most popular communication app, Slack, surveyed 9.000 workers in six counties about remote work. The study found that 72% of employees prefer a hybrid model, while only 12% would like to go back to the office full-time. Finally, 13% would like a full-time remote position. In another PwC survey, 73% percent of US executives are happy with remote models. In addition, 30% predict that they will cut office space in the next three years.
Following last year’s events, employees’ preferences moved towards more flexible working options. Consequently, most companies are expanding their working models towards hybrid options and remote-work friendly policies.
Besides allowing more flexibility, companies are implementing their welfare for distributed teams. 75% of remote workers complained because companies don’t cover internet costs, and 71% said their employers don’t pay for coworking spaces. Implementing hybrid models will cover up Internet and equipment costs to improve employees’ remote work experience.
#2. Onboarding & Company Culture
Last year’s remote work experience highlighted the importance of onboarding new hires for employee rendition and productivity. Two-thirds (66%) of employees feel more engaged in workplaces with strong company culture and with a focus on inclusion (52%).
When companies suddenly shifted online, the onboarding process had to be adjusted to virtually welcome new hires. Remote onboarding takes longer than an in-person experience, and companies had to speed up integration between team members to reach peak performances in a short time. Besides core documentation, tools and procedures, and team introduction, companies are implementing company culture and team-building to onboard and welcome new hires in virtual settings.
#3. Remote Hiring & HR Tech
Following the global lockdown, companies had to hone their technologies to facilitate the process of virtual hiring. Today, remote hiring strategies are taking over traditional physical techniques. Remote hiring helps to widen the talent pool and allows recruiters to pick talented professionals worldwide. In addition, diversity and inclusion are now an integral part of recruitment strategies. With remote hiring, companies can diversify their workforce and allow more freedom and flexibility in working hours.
#4. Cybersecurity & Digital Transformation
One of the major concerns of the sudden shift to remote work is cybersecurity. Most companies set up virtual private networks to work remotely. As the pandemic recedes and offices open again, employees will be able to shift between on-site and remote work. Expanding hybrid models, companies are implementing security methods to prevent vulnerabilities in their systems.
Besides implementing IT teams, companies are working to build private networks (VPNs) and strictly regulating personal-device use. In addition, team leaders provide training and courses to prevent hackers and maintain their systems safe at home. Likewise, company investments in digital transformation and contactless transactions are expected to grow and double up by 2023.
#5. Time Off And Right To Disconnect
The pandemic highlighted the importance of time-off and the well-being of employees. Most remote workers struggle to disconnect or end up working extra hours at the end of the day. Companies are now launching more flexible options, especially for working parents. After a year of restrictions, team leaders are more aware of remote burnout risks. Part of the effort to implement remote work models will regulate time off and extra working hours to support a healthy work-life balance.
#6. Retraining And Reskilling For Remote Workers
In some cases, the shift to remote work required retraining and reskilling of employees with digital tools and platforms. According to Gartner’s report, today, only 16% of the new hires possess adequate skills for their current job. Working from home requires mastery of digital devices, which implies new skills for employees. Most companies are launching courses and training to improve computational proficiency and prepare team members for different working methods.
Is Remote Work Here To Stay?
Let’s have a look at some stats one last time.
61.9% of the companies plan to expand remote work models, expecting that 22% of Americans will work remotely by 2025. The preference for remote work increased 87% compared to pre-pandemic levels. There are tons of surveys and reports suggesting that remote work won’t go away anytime soon.
Probably, this pandemic didn’t make us better than before. But certainly, it changed our priorities, habits, and perspective on professional life. This new type of workforce, the remote workforce, isn’t just a trend.
If the world is adapting to a post-pandemic life, companies are developing new strategies to retain the benefits of remote work. Some industries will fully come back to on-site models. For others, however, remote work will be a permanent strategy.
It’s impossible to predict how many companies will be hybrid or fully remote and who will be back to the office. To find out the winner of this battle, we still need to wait. While employers and employees find out agreements and long-term solutions, some of these remote workplace trends are already out there!