The Trends and Future of Remote Working

A man remote working
A man remote working

Remote working was very rare a decade ago. Working from home was only available as a special arrangement to accommodate families in specific cases. With the start of the pandemic, stifling innovation, telework and teleconferencing have advanced to the point where we can thrive only with remote teams. Let us look at the trends of remote working through; its evolution, its current state, and predictions for the future.

So how effective is remote work really? Airtasker surveyed 1,004 full-time employees — 505 of whom were remote employees — throughout the U.S. The results showed that

Remote workers toil an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.

Remote employees take longer breaks on average than office employees (22 minutes versus 18 minutes, respectively), but they work an additional 10 minutes a day.

Office workers are unproductive for an average of 37 minutes a day, not including lunch or breaks, whereas remote employees are unproductive for only 27 minutes.

15% of remote workers said their boss distracted them from work, which is less than the 22% of office-based employees who said the same thing.

Disparity between remote working in advanced economies vs emerging economies
How common remote working will be in advanced economies vs emerging economies

Now let us take a step back to see how remote working has evolved, and what is happening in its current state.

There was a time, if your colleagues or business partners want to get in touch with you when you were out of the office, they couldn’t email, text, or directly message you. You would have needed to provide an alternative phone number, pager, or even a fax number to have a work-related conversation.

Fast forward to today, we can facilitate remote working with technological solutions example video conferencing. This technology has advanced so quickly that this year startups are done away with traditional offices and instead run their businesses out of co-working spaces to accommodate their largely remote workforce.

Unlike the first months of confinement, people have a home office routine much adjusted to their lifestyle. The adoption of technology, connectivity, and collaborative work has allowed them to design increasingly dynamic days and ways of working that would have never been thought of before the pandemic. This has lead to remote working being

Integrated

The digital transformation due to the pandemic has led companies to use up to multiple communication apps to carry out their activities. The integration of different tools in the same platform will be one of the biggest trends of remote work in 2021. Having their applications in a single space would help them achieve a better workflow, increase their productivity and reduce the feeling of technological fatigue during working hours. For example, Monday.com allows the team to sync each of the apps used in their workspace; Google (Google docs), Microsoft (Azure), Slack, Hubspot, and Salesforce.

Collaborative

Due to pandemic bringing about many challenges like tighter budgets, talent drain, etc, it will be the reason that management of collaborative work will be more important than ever for managers. That is why, properly managing the flows and responsibilities of the teams, through technological tools, will be key to increasing the levels of engagement of employees with the company, as well as reducing the workloads that allow them to take advantage and enjoy as long as possible at home. Some of the collaborative tools startups use are; Trello, Asana, Canva, and Hootsuite.

Some online collaboration tools
Examples of online collaboration tools

We have seen how remote working has made life simpler for workers, but how does it hold up now, in the midst of being one year into a pandemic?

Current Trends During the Pandemic

Co-working spaces — These spaces are now on the rise and only growing bigger. Giants like WeWork and Ucommune (Chinese) have recognized the incredible demand for flexible work environments. These spaces are tailored for comfort and accommodation, offering everything from practical amenities like soundproof rooms, food, coffee, and inspirational themes. Post -covid workers would like to return to co-working spaces to come out of isolation and develop human connections.

Most common demographic of co-working space Users
Most common demographics of coworking space

Travel working —This is primarily growing among Gen-Z employees. It simply involves working remotely while on an extended vacation. This approach to work is part of the “digital nomad” lifestyle trend, with younger workers choosing to embrace a world without anchors. Travel working allows remote employees to hold down a reputable job with a respectable company while traveling to several states or countries over an extended period. The number of digital nomads in the U.S. has more than doubled over the past couple of years — from 4.8 million in 2018 to 10.9 million in 2021. Some of the most popular nomad jobs are copywriting, virtual assistant, illustrators, and graphic designers. You can find job postings on various sites like FlexJobs, Contena, and Jobspresso.

Popular nomad Jobs vs age distribution for nomad job workers
Popular nomad Jobs vs age distribution for nomad job workers in America

Gigging — Gigging is extremely prominent among younger workers and gives them the means to work multiple jobs without the constraints of traditional office hours, example a graphic designer is formally employed by a company but works from home. They set their own schedule to get company-specific work done, but have time to freelance or take a part-time position.

Workforce switching from traditional workforce to alternate workforce (gig economy)
Workforce switching from traditional workforce to alternate workforce (gig economy)

What lies in the future?

Covid 19 for the first time has elevated the importance of the physical dimension of work. This research below shows a novel way to quantify the proximity required in more than 800 occupations by grouping them into ten work areas according to their proximity to coworkers and customers, the number of interpersonal interactions involved, and their on-sight and indoor nature.

This offers a different view of work than traditional sector definitions. Hospitals and medical office administrative staff fall into the computer office-based work area, where more work can be done remotely. Lab technicians and pharmacists work in the indoor production work arena because those jobs require the use of specialized equipment on-site but have little exposure to other people.

Overall proximity score based on Human interactions
Overall proximity score based on Human interactions

Jobs in areas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic, triggering a domino effect in other work areas as business models shift in response.

The trends accelerated in 2021 because of the pandemic may bring about greater changes in the mix of jobs within economies than we estimated before the pandemic. We find that a markedly different mix of occupations may emerge after the pandemic across the different economies. Compared to our pre-COVID-19 estimates, we expect the largest negative impact of the pandemic to fall on workers in foodservice and customer sales and service roles, as well as less-skilled office support roles. Jobs in warehousing and transportation may increase as a result of the growth in e-commerce and the delivery economy, but those increases are not likely to offset the disruption of many low-wage jobs. In the United States, for instance, customer service and food service jobs could fall by 4.3 million, while transportation jobs could grow by nearly 800,000. Demand for workers in the healthcare and STEM occupations may grow more than before the pandemic, reflecting increased attention to health as populations age and incomes rise as well as the growing need for people who can create, deploy, and maintain new technologies.

Change in share of total employment after the pandemic

Remote work is becoming more common in industries that already embrace technology to its fullest. Professionals from various fields are finding ways to successfully become location independent. While no one knows what exactly the future has in store, it is all but certain that remote working will play a big role in the future and change the way we work.

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