Because of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions, many companies have implemented a remote work setup. As the head of a freelance writing company, I have personally managed remote workplaces even before the pandemic. Based on experience, it entails more than just emulating an office culture from the comforts of your home. Keep in mind that remote work is any task performed outside of the dedicated office building. This can be at your house, a coffee shop, or a coworking space.
Why is the future of work remote? Both employer and employee can provide their perspective. Employers can cut down on operational costs and see increased productivity. Meanwhile, employees can work at their own time and in a space where they feel most productive and comfortable.
Different factors affect productivity, and some may or may not be present when working remotely. Contrary to popular belief, remote work can be more productive than working in the office. This might seem like an absurd idea, but keep reading, and you might just be convinced that the future of work is remote.
In Is the Future of Work Remote, Corporate Office, or Work from Anywhere Jonathan Shultz and Chris Herd describe how they see the future of work. For Jonathan, the future of work means flexibility. It’s up to companies to decide the work setup that best suits their needs. Meanwhile, Chris said that “the future of work” is actually “the future of living.” He believes that our jobs are deeply connected with our lifestyles and external circumstances.
Different individuals may have different views on what the future of work may entail. And there is a rich space for debate on this. However, companies need to be clear with how they see the future of work. This is to avoid confusion among their employees.
Some companies may find working in the office as the future of work. This concept may seem ironic when thinking about "the future of work." But this isn’t necessarily the case. They may find office-based work important to their growth and culture. However, these companies must also consider how a traditional model will fit into the structural changes caused by the pandemic.
With this in mind, other companies are shifting toward remote work. Beyond COVID-19, some feel that the working environment in the office has worsened over the years. As office spaces shrink, opportunities for deep, focused work also lessens. This makes working in the office less conducive to productivity while simultaneously eating up resources.
The following lists what the future of work could look like if companies make the switch:
1. Every employee has a voice.
2. A hybrid model of working is considered.
3. Teams are less fractured.
4. Companies revisit people working at home.
5. A lot of people find it easier to focus when they work at home.
6. People learn to balance projects at different times.
7. Asynchronous communication is less taxing than scheduled meetings.
8. Asynchronous work is more respectful to each employee’s timezone.
9. Remote work offers a better quality of life overall.
10. Working remotely is more sustainable.
Companies may explore remote working tools and realize that it makes employees happier and more productive. Jonathan considers them as "remote-first" companies. According to him, companies cannot be indecisive about how they view work moving forward. They must clearly define the "future of work" that will work best for their organization. They will also have to develop a process according to the employer's predisposition, be it a workplace setup or a work-from-home setup.
However, note that remote work is any task performed outside of the dedicated office space. This can be at your house, a coffee shop, or a co-working space. The future of remote work isn’t necessarily work-from-home. Instead, it can be work from wherever and whenever you’re productive.
We have been using the one-size-fits-all approach for too long. Chris also adds that we have not shifted properly from the industrial revolution’s analog world to the technology revolution’s digital world. Progress has been slow in this regard. We still adopt a traditional cookie-cutter mindset. This is despite the rise of knowledge-based work and the abundance of tools that allow us to learn without geographical restrictions. The question then is how we can empower people to be in the best position possible and to produce the best work they’ve ever done in their lives.
Look through our article, Remote Work May Be Future-Proof, But Is Now The Time? to learn more about workplace flexibility and the importance of social relationships in the company.
The employer must provide the materials that an employee needs to work efficiently. Without the right tools, it becomes incredibly challenging for employees to be productive. They should ensure that their employees are fully equipped to meet the company's needs. This includes not burdening their employees with finding the right tools.
With these additional considerations, implementing a shift to remote work may be difficult for employers. In Remote work is the end of offices & office-first companies, Chris Herd recounts how, as he was starting his own company, he realized it was complicated to set up a team for remote work. Firstbase was initially built to provide a good experience to the team. Eventually, Chris went on to build this company into one that helps other companies transition to remote work smoothly.
Indeed, it was quite costly and time-consuming for his company to provide for every worker's needs. On top of this, all the equipment or documents employees needed to operate had to be delivered to them. Despite the initial challenges, there are numerous benefits for both employers and employees when they adapt to a remote work setup; these include:
11. There is more time for creativity.
12. There is localized pay for individuals in different places, making it cost-efficient.
13. Employers can choose from a wider talent pool by eliminating geographical barriers.
14. Employees may have more space when working remotely.
15. Companies become able to function despite employees not being together.
16. Employees do not feel a sense of false productivity, as they perform deep work and take tasks they can deliver.
17. Employees feel more productive at home, especially when there is a dedicated space.
18. Remote work takes care of employee well-being.
19. Working in the corporate office romanticizes social cohesion excessively.
20. Employees can still collaborate, just without distraction and disruption.
According to Chris, companies that don’t embrace remote work are signing their death warrants. This can be likened to e-commerce businesses versus brick-and-mortar stores. Stores that did not take advantage of online spaces to diversify lost their consumer base to e-commerce retail giants such as Amazon. In the same way, having a closed mindset about remote work severely limits companies. They pass up on the recruitment of viable talents and on having a cost-efficient payroll. The future of work is remote. This is particularly true when you’re looking at how much it benefits both employers and employees.
Where you work should depend on the nature of your work. For instance, you may be an accountant or a paralegal. In such cases, working in the office is essential for you. Remote working may not be as practical in these cases. Some professions require a level of confidentiality that can be compromised when work is done remotely.
However, the pandemic forced people to work from home. Moving forward, this does not mean that the future of work would be work from home. As mentioned, it’s still best if your workplace suits the nature of your work. Beyond this, you can look at where you’re able to do the most work. It then becomes more accurate to say work from anywhere. Employees can work at home, in a coffee shop, or a co-working space. It all depends on where they feel more productive and creative.
Mark Gilbreath shares his thoughts on coworking spaces in What’s going on with Coworking? In the Office of the Future Remote Work Will Be Complementary. To him, it’s evident to market observers that work from anywhere is becoming mass-scale. There’s an increasing emphasis on flexible working spaces. With this, employees can choose to work in the office or work closer to or at home. With private and personalized space, employees don’t need to worry about the perceived threat and stress-inducing condition of a traditional office. The ability to choose your workspace when working remotely also addresses the following:
21. There is less task interruption.
22. Employees can take care of their health better when working remotely.
23. People can focus more, especially at a location where they most feel comfortable and productive.
24. Allows for shorter but more productive work breaks.
25. The myth of 100% productivity in the workplace.
26. Having the appropriate space for knowledge-based work.
27. Working in the corporate office does not guarantee a deep and meaningful bond with others.
28. Limitations on the types of people that can work in an organization.
29. Employees can explore more opportunities when working remotely.
30.Remote work eliminates or lessens the need for real estate.
31. Companies cut overhead costs.
Mark adds that coworking spaces may be a viable option to get both of the benefits that remote work and traditional offices offer. It takes time to figure out where you can be most productive. It won't be a "one-size-fits-all" framework. With this, companies have to work toward creating a workplace framework that will suit their employees.
The lack of a physical office may seem daunting at first. After all, it’s something that we’re used to. However, you may find that having an actual office space isn’t all that necessary. Employees may be more productive when they can work from wherever they want, be it their homes, coworking spaces, coffee shops, or even a beach somewhere in Europe. To help you learn how to maintain social cohesion within an organization despite being in a virtual workplace, check out our article entitled Keeping Your Company Connected at All Times.
Chris Herd, the CEO of Firstbase, says in his interview that the employees' capabilities are a by-product of the employer's solution. Thus, an employee-centric approach is necessary for effective remote work. These are the benefits an employee gets when working remotely:
32. Older generations can remain in the workforce without compromising their health.
33. They can choose to work at the time of the day when they feel most productive.
34. It lessens work disruptions that inhibit deep work, especially for knowledge-based tasks.
35. Without distractions, remote work drives up their efficiency.
36. They have greater autonomy over their work-life balance.
37. They can recover more quickly if they fall ill.
38. Their overall well-being increases.
39. Their stress levels go down.
40. Commuting isn't a necessity.
A remote work setup’s effectiveness is dependent on how it is optimized by the individual behind the screen. The virtual setting may seem difficult to pull off for your organization, but putting the needs of your employees first may result in more productivity not only for them but for your company as a whole. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you have satisfied and productive employees, then the growth and success of the group will inevitably follow.
The hybrid model can be effective if it is implemented well, but also negative if it is not. After all, the main benefit of remote work is asynchronous communication. For Chris, the hybrid model of working may potentially have the drawbacks of both office work and remote work with none of the benefits.
In a hybrid model, the physical office is still emphasized. Thus, it reduces the benefits of asynchronous communication because an employee still needs to physically report for work. Nonetheless, a hybrid model promotes flexibility. Ultimately, companies have to decide if they will adopt a fully remote work set-up or a hybrid model, depending on the industry. Whichever organizations choose, it is apparent that there is no turning back to a full-time traditional office. A survey among employees showed that after the pandemic, a majority of them don’t want to work in the office full-time, and some don’t want to work in the office at all. After all, remote work helps in:
41. Becoming more open to new talent.
42. Companies being able to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their respective industries.
43. Cutting back or completely eliminating rent expenses.
44. Reducing your organization's effective carbon footprint.
45. Cutting back on operation prices because of telecommuting.
46. Eliminating miscellaneous workplace expenses.
47. Reducing employee turnover rate.
48. Making employees more willing to work overtime.
49. Fostering collaboration between telecommuting employees and those who physically report for work.
50. Allowing remote staff to work longer.
Different industries will look at remote working in different ways, depending on employees' roles and the measures each industry takes to facilitate it. The biggest challenge for companies now is to match what their competition does. Most companies are likely to have employed the remote working framework, and those unable to adapt will lose out. Not convinced? Here are 50 Reasons Why the Future of Work is Work from Anywhere.
Remote working dictates the level of competition nowadays. It is not limited to working from home, and it empowers the employee to work wherever they feel they can be their best. In an interview with Ryan Anderson about asynchronous communication, pure synchronous communication is said to be extremely taxing. And so the future lies in balancing it with asynchronous communication.
Furthermore, he believes that people should be put first, and then the process, and lastly the place. The place should support the people and the process, not the other way around. If we get rid of the mindset of people having to adjust to their offices, we will satisfy their needs better. Overall, remote work should be a win-win situation — a happier employee is more productive and therefore a better asset to their company.
A simple chat or video call would suffice. There is no need for frequent work check-ups as this may overwhelm the employee. In some cases, it may even cause anxiety. To keep the employees connected, ask them how they are doing instead.
Absolutely. The data shows that people are more productive working remotely. Mainly because doing so eliminates:
➼ Office distractions
➼ Daily commute
➼ Non-urgent tasks & meetings
➼ Strict one-size-fits-all schedules
Employees can focus on their tasks, and be consulted on an as-needed basis instead.
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