Welcome to 2020: the year of the awakening! While quite a number of us have been working from home over the past decade, this year saw an exponential increase in the remote workforce.
To put this in perspective, consider that between 2008 and 2018, there has been a 74% increase in the number of employees working outside the office.
While this figure is impressive, it’s nothing compared to the statistics we’re seeing in 2020.
More than 50% of employees are currently working from home in the UK. The figure is similar in the US. This means that more than half of the workforce in each of these countries are already remote workers.
As the increasing percentage continues to dazzle us with its impressiveness, we are all faced with a question many company leaders have been intentionally avoiding for years: What will remote work in the future look like? Are we looking at another revolutionary leap? What does the future hold for digital nomads community? Will unyielding companies be forced to embrace this new wind of change that is blowing so fiercely? These questions among many others that fill the air.
While the industrial age brought with it long office hours and the need to monitor employees for effectiveness and productivity, we have to recognize that this is the digital age—the age of the bold and the adventurous!
With the technological advancements, millennials—with their desire to explore and travel—are embracing the possibility of working from anywhere.
Remote Work Today
When Buffer.com conducted a survey in 2019, the objective was to find out if people were open to the idea of working from home.
The results were off the charts, with 99% saying they will love to work from home at least once during their career!
This came as no surprise to some of us who had been in the game for some time now. The perks of working from home are numerous and people know it!
Another report released by Zapier in 2019 showed that 74% of employees would quit their current jobs if they got an offer for a job with flexible-remote-working hours.
In 2020 – with companies being forced by the pandemic to allow their employees to work remotely – many people got a taste of the “working from home” dream.
77% of employees, according to a survey by Forbes magazine, said they‘d prefer to continue working from home. This is the work change people have been waiting for, and now that it’s here, they want to hold on to it.
Tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have taken the lead in this arena.
Google, for example, sent its workforce home in early March of 2020 and told them that they have the option to work from home till 2021 (for those whose job descriptions allowed for remote work).
Facebook followed suit with the same move. Meanwhile, Twitter decided to hit the ball out of the park by telling its employees that they have the option to work from home “Forever!”
Microsoft, on the other hand, while not saying ‘No’ to the idea of allowing its employees to work from home, intend to bring people back to the office “more slowly rather than quickly,” according to the president, Brad Smith.
This shows a deep thought to the “work from home” possibility. Big companies are suddenly not in a haste to have employees coming to the office – a huge change from what we have seen in the past.
Considering that tech giants have always set the trend on the pace of work and what the workplace will look like, it doesn’t come as a surprise to see other companies following suit in allowing their employees to work from home.
Upwork CEO Hayden Brown reported that the company “is now permanently embracing a ‘remote-first’ model.”
The possibility of this swift transition to remote working can be attributed to technological tools that allow individuals to work from home.
Productivity Tools for Work from Home
With the leaps in technological advancement, it has become easier to maintain high levels of productivity while working from home.
Remote Desktop Software
This tool makes it possible to access the computer at your work office, live from the comfort of your home.
One of its advantages is that employees who wish to spend more time working from home can do so and only enter the office perhaps once or twice a week (if need be).
IT personnel can also use this tool to troubleshoot the computer of a client without even stepping out of their home office.
Video Conferencing Apps
Team leaders have expressed concern over the lack of human interaction that can come from working remotely.
According to Andrew Hargadon, a professor of technology management at the University of California, we cannot overlook the value of being together with people in person. Random interactions in elevators or coffee breaks can spark ideas and lead to those “Aha!” moments.
Video conferencing software attempts to fill in this gap, even if it is just in a virtual world. 98% of workers agree that it creates a team bond and makes for happier workers. Seeing each other smile and laugh creates the feeling of being in the same room with teammates.
Companies like FitSmallBusiness have taken this to a whole new level. They don’t just take lunch breaks together, they also organize games, and celebrate birthdays using video conferencing!
Video conferencing apps include Zoom, GoogleMeet, and Webex.
Time Management Apps
Time management software serves to help work-from-home employees to monitor their time accurately.
With this tool taking regular screenshots of your on-screen activity and monitoring the time you spend on specific tasks, it can help you to improve efficiency, stay focused, and avoid distractions.
It also works perfectly for team leaders that want to know how well their employees are doing.
They can monitor employee activity levels and determine how many hours of work to pay for at the end of each week (for employees who pay by the hour).
Project Management Software
This is a tool for managing complex tasks. If you lead a large team, management software makes it easy to assign tasks, set deadlines, and monitor individual progress.
Team members can update their progress through the dashboard among many other things. Some management apps even have graphs that show you the progress of each project in a diagrammatic form.
Project management software includes Toodledo, Asana, and Wrike.
These tools have made it possible to have a smooth transition to remote work. It is playing a key role in enabling companies to embrace the future.
The Future of Remote Work
According to the lyrics of a song from one of my favorite artists, OneRepublic, “The future looks good!” Yes! Digital nomads are in for a treat.
A statement made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg supports this. According to him, “aggressively opening up remote hiring” by July, is the next move for the tech company.
According to a survey of 317 Chief Financial Officers, 74% said they expect to have 5% of their workforce permanently working out of office. 17% expect 20% of their workforce to do the same. While 4%, expect as much as 50% of their staff to be remote workers permanently!
While there are employees who cannot wait to return to their workplace, the number of employees hoping to continue working from home far outweighs them. With only 23% saying they cannot wait to get back to the office, it is clear to which direction the scale is tilting.
We are looking at a future where more companies will embrace the idea of their employees working from different locations, traveling, or simply being at home with their families.
However, we have to admit that not everybody can work from home. Some jobs require a physical presence. Besides, some people just do better when they are in an actual office.
If we are to consider top jobs for remote work, it is obvious that not all jobs can be done at home. This is why some companies are already embracing a hybrid ‘in-office and remote working’ structure.
This allows workers to come into the office only a few days per week and then work from home for the remaining part.
As company executives are now beginning to realize, hiring a remote force has its advantages. It gives them access to a wider pool of professionals from different locations to hire from, less money will be spent on renting offices, and there will be increased loyalty from employees.
According to a survey by Owl Labs, remote workers are more likely to stay at their current jobs for the next five years. Onsite workers, however, do not intend to work that long for their companies. It is obvious that flexible working hours play a role in employee satisfaction and retention.
Digital nomads say that a flexible work schedule, spending more time with family, and fewer expenses, are few of the reasons why they prefer the remote life.
With projections looking at 1 billion digital nomads by 2035, we are looking at a future where remote workers will have more job opportunities, better pay, and more tech tools to help them grow. 2021 will be the year of the digital nomad, as more companies make moves to break away from the traditional office setting.