Is Remote Work the Future of Employment?
November 26, 2020 | Joyce Ibrahim
Well before COVID-19 hit, the work-from-office model was already starting to loosen up to a large extent, as the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005. The rapid evolution of personal technology and digital connectivity has been offering individuals as well as teams increased flexibility to choose how they work and where they work from. However, with safety concerns and recurrent lockdowns, remote work moved from being a matter of preference to being mandatory.
And although our office-to-home transition came with some confusion and worries at first, it has nevertheless pushed businesses to make considerations to accommodate employees’ situations at home, namely for those who are caring for children. As a result, the workforce and employers alike have witnessed a change of professional attitudes and habits, marking our transition into “the new normal”. With multiple leading companies such as Twitter now offering their employees the opportunity to adopt remote work indefinitely, working from anywhere could very well become the new employment model even after the crisis.
In 2019, a report by Owl Labs found that 16% of all companies worldwide are fully remote, while another 40% operate under a hybrid model that allows employees some amount of remote work weekly. Undoubtedly, remote work was an attractive alternative for many even before the pandemic, as Buffer found in 2018 that 90% of remote workers plan to continue working this way for the rest of their careers.
For employees, working outside the office has been associated with increased productivity. In a research conducted by Flexjobs, 76% of responders reported that they encountered fewer distractions outside of offices, while only 2% found that their productivity went down at home. Working remote also offers employees better work/life balance thanks to more flexible schedules. In addition, this model is also beneficial for employers, allowing them to cut costs and decrease employee turnover, as remote workers are typically happier in their jobs. A remote workforce also means a wider talent pool to choose from, as businesses can now hire applicants that better fit qualification requirements without having to worry about their geographical location.
On the flipside, however, working remotely can create obstacles between teams. The lack of direct human contact in telework can result in communication gaps within a team. And although there are countless tools that enable communication and knowledge sharing within an organization, such as Slack, Zoom, Trello, or Skype, a face-to-face discussion is still a necessity between coworkers. Furthermore, being away from the office can lower employees’ motivation, and being at home can increase distractions when there’s always a chore pending or a child that needs to be tended to. Another area remote work fails to cover is to create a sense of belonging, as employees are worried that being isolated from the rest of the company can leave them feeling lonely and unengaged.
But even with its drawbacks in terms of communication, employee engagement, and cybersecurity, remote work will surely be more present in the future, as data estimates that 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days a month by 2025. The challenge for companies trying to grow in these changing times is to find the best ways and tools to accommodate this shift in how we work, and how these companies address these challenges today will be very telling for their future prospects.
Does your company have a long-term telework strategy? Get in touch with Brakket Consult to find out how we can help!