Remote working has gone from a freelance lifestyle to the new mainstream norm in the Covid-19 reshaped world.
The tide has turned towards embracing remote work. Surveys have shown 98% of workers want the option of at least spending part of their week working from home, and 97% of employees who do so, recommend it as a preferred way to do their job.
It is anticipated that remote work will be a part of most companies and workers lives in the return to post-pandemic normal, so what are the ways this will shape the future of work?
Benefits and Challenges of Remote Work
The increased flexibility shown by businesses in accommodating working from home staff has resulted in greater productivity, motivation and engagement from staff, and fostered more genuine connections and support between workers and reduced workplace stress.
Video conferencing has become commonplace, and also effective as bonding as well as a communication tool. Staff get insights into their colleagues’ home lives, personalities and even family and pets.
This greater humanisation of contact, and the increased need for empathetic listening, and respectful and considerate plan-making across video platforms have created more intimate and genuine exchanges. It has also become the prime option for online learning and training needs.
There are challenges that come with remote working, from juggling time zones, the lack of simultaneous physical conversations, home distractions and interruptions of availability, so businesses will need to ensure fluidity and adaptability form part of their decision making and work scheduling.
Clarity around communication protocols, documentation of workflows and expectations are more important with a remote team, especially ones scattered by time zones. Meetings and their content need to be carefully planned and run to ensure maximum real-time interaction and beneficial exchanges, without the burnout factor from overuse.
The Future of Remote Work
The geographic displacement of the workplace from a central location can have huge cost benefits, with an estimated saving of $11,000 in capital costs per part-time staff working remotely as opposed to in the office. But the challenge with a scattered team means flexibility around deadlines, which can no longer be strictly time and location-specific.
Embracing asynchronous communication methods, such as all contributing to shared Google Docs, specific task email threads, markups and comments on files allows people to take up their work from where they left it, or increasingly people are turning to team building resources such as Lano’s intelligent and automated Team Management and Project Tracking tools to seamlessly centralize communication and workflow, coordinate staff tasks, calendars and contracts in one spot.
The Virtual Work Space and Hybrid Working Models
A survey at the end of March 2020 by Gartner Inc. revealed 74% of CEOs were intending to shift some of their workers to work remotely permanently.
The reality of post-COVID financial pressures will mean businesses will need to embrace remote working in some capacity as a cost-cutting measure. Recent recruitment trends have also shown that having the option to work from home is seen as a desirable trait in a company by virtually 100% of candidates.
A company embracing a virtual workspace and remote working also massively opens the talent pool of available staff, allowing them to target the best at the required skill or discipline from all across the globe, not constrained by borders or locations.
As we see a return to the new normal for the workforce, a centralized physical office may not be as necessary as previously thought. As restrictions around movement in the wake of the virus ease, the technology is in place to make anywhere a virtual workplace. Cafes, libraries, or the new breed of hot desk coworking spaces, all cater to workers who wish to break the office or home dynamic.
Innovation with cloud-based storage systems and contemporary Electronic Document and Record Management Systems (EDRMS) allow for information to be labelled with specific access requirements to an individual or specific clearance level ensuring a balance between access and security, for staff and company data. Workplace systems can be set up on virtual remote servers for access by VPN or custom logins which allow for people to access via their own laptop, which saves further equipment and hardware costs and multiple team members able to collaborate on files and projects.
The future of work will no longer rely on people having to attend a single central location for the 9 to 5 workday to perform their specified tasks. The new working world will tap into a huge pool of freelance talent, with the flexibility of remote working enabling an engaged and productive workforce, less constrained by time and geography.