The future of remote work – the new norm for businesses?

The future of remote work – the new norm for businesses?

Excerpted from a Forbes article by Caroline Castrillon

The world witnessed a historic shift in the 2020 job market due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While some companies used to offer the ability to work from home as a perk, it has now become the norm for most businesses. By 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month. While 2020 may be considered the year of remote work, it is just the beginning as we see the trend continuing in 2021.

Remote work becomes permanent
The percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research (ETR). “The productivity metric is proving that remote work is working,” said Erik Bradley, chief engagement strategist at ETR. “So, we all thought that there would be some increase in permanent remote work, but we didn’t expect that to double from pre-pandemic levels.” Another recent Gartner CFO survey revealed that over two-thirds (74%) plan to permanently shift employees to remote work after the Covid-19 crisis ends. As expected, Big Tech companies are paving the way.

Twitter, based in San Francisco, told employees in May that they could work from home indefinitely. Square, which is also led by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, adopted a similar policy around the same time and will allow employees to work from home indefinitely, even after offices reopen.

Remote work means less office space
Moe Vela, Chief Transparency Officer of TransparentBusiness, predicts that the need for large physical office spaces will gradually become a thing of the past. “Completely remote companies with no headquarters will continue to form as other organizations decide to reduce their office space for hybrid teams or forgo one altogether to save on costs,” adds Vela. And companies are already taking steps in this direction.

Earlier this summer, outdoor retailer REI announced that it is selling its brand new, unused 8-acre corporate campus in Bellevue, Washington. In a statement, CEO Eric Artz said the company would “lean into remote working as an engrained, supported, and normalized model” for employees. Many companies are also planning a new combination of remote and on-site working, giving rise to a hybrid work model.

As Anna Convery-Pelletier, CMO at Radware, suggests, “One strategy might be to have specific days for in-person meetings and collaboration, and then other days allocated for remote work. In-person meetings might be reserved for brainstorming sessions, introducing new projects, or team-building exercises, while remote days would be for work that can be performed individually. The office could be redesigned and reorganized by getting rid of cubicles and creating more collaborative meeting spaces.”

Remote work affects performance management
Remote work has changed performance management considerably. Organizations will increasingly focus on work done instead of hours worked—making tools and apps to help manage remote employee performance more essential. To maximize employee efficiency, employers will need visibility over what workers are doing. Some examples of remote employee management tools include Time Doctor, Timely and TransparentBusiness. At some point, it may even be necessary to create a new job position, like Director of Remote Work, to oversee production and collaboration and ensure operational efficiencies.

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