What Does Remote Work Mean For The Future Of Work?

March, 19 2020

What Does Remote Work Mean For The Future Of Work?

Traditionally, when we think about what remote work means, we think about some “laptop lifestyle” freelancers working around the world, touring every beach they can find. But times have changed. Remote work is more popular than ever, with over 1 in 4 Americans working remotely in 2021.

Traditionally, when we think about what remote work means, we think about some “laptop lifestyle” freelancers working around the world, touring every beach they can find. But times have changed. Remote work is more popular than ever, with over 1 in 4 Americans working remotely in 2021.

While remote work may sound like a nice alternative for anybody in the working world, the reality can be much different for individuals and teams that aren’t prepared. Today, we’re going to break down not only what remote work means and how people work remotely, but what businesses need to keep in mind while they consider or transition into remote work models.

What does remote work mean?

Essentially, remote work is any manner of work that isn’t tied down to a single location, office, or place to clock in. By that definition, it’s obviously not viable for every job out there, but, as the COVID-19 pandemic showed us clearly, it can be attained by a vast majority of roles around the world.

Gartner, a billion-dollar technology research company, defines remote work as such:

“Remote work (also known as work from home [WFH] or telecommuting) is a type of flexible working arrangement that allows an employee to work from remote location outside of corporate offices.”

The key word to note there is flexible. As we’ll get into later, one of the major benefits for both employees and employers is the full flexibility that the remote work model provides.

How do people work remotely?

You may think that remote work is only for freelancers or business owners, but the reality is that remote work was popular long before even commuting.

Here are a few ways modern-day workers make ends meet away from the office:

  • Digital Nomading: #DigitalNomad became a popular hashtag as the rise of full-time travelers started popping up on Instagram with their vans and laptop & landscape photographs. Funnily enough, though, most digital nomads actually have full-time jobs that allow them to work from anywhere in the world! (Just be careful of timezones that require you to take calls at 4AM.)
  • Freelancing: It wouldn’t be a complete remote work list without mentioning freelancing! Freelancing is a flexible worker’s dream and a modern-day employee’s nightmare; working for yourself has all the same benefits as it does downfalls—including managing your own time, finding your own work, and maintaining all of the finances.
  • Hybrid Models: As remote work becomes more popular, so does the flexibility that traditional full-time, in-office businesses provide their employees. Hybrid remote working models seem to be the most effective for keeping employees engaged, and allow the opportunity for CoWorking spaces like Alaska CoWork or The Boardroom to rise.

 

What kind of jobs allow you to work remotely?

Simply put, almost any “office job” can be worked remotely. The obvious outliers to remote working are industries like hospitality, housekeeping, and contracting work that requires your hands and presence to keep the job running smoothly.

But jobs like the following have traditionally been run remotely, and continue to grow in popularity even in full-time working situations:

  • Digital Marketer
  • Accountant
  • Engineer
  • Programmer
  • Teacher/Tutor/Instructor
  • Writer
  • Consultant/Coach

Why do people work remotely?

Just a year ago, we would’ve argued how every employee should have the opportunity to try a remote working model, but as 2020 showed us, remote working isn’t always somebody’s choice. Now that the world has gotten a taste for it, however, many Americans don’t ever want to go back into the office.

The following benefits make it hard for anybody to dispute why working remotely should be considered by employers and employees worldwide:

Flexibility for everyone

The flexibility of remote working isn’t retained just for employees. The flexibility to work your own hours, provide office space (or not), and travel while you work creates a flexible work environment for everybody. It may be harder to imagine a working life that allows so much freedom, but if you continue reading, we’ll provide you some solid tactics to get started.

Health & wellness

Contrary to traditional productivity advice, being away from the office is actually healthier for your employee’s creativity and engagement. The ability to take walks while on your lunch break or spend more time with your family (and less time commuting) is an unforeseen benefit many people have experienced over the course of working from home. Beyond that, being able to stay mentally challenged and creative in your work relies on breaking the mold of your day-to-day that you simply can’t get in a 9-to-5 environment.

Improved productivity

When employees are out of the office for at least half of the week, their productivity skyrockets. It’s no secret that empowering your employees provides your business with the most creative solutions to everyday problems, and what better way to show you trust your employees than allowing them to work on their own?

Cost savings

Again, the cost savings go around for everyone. Businesses don’t have to spend nearly as much on office locations, VoIP, Internet, and more, while employees don’t have to spend money on commuting or buying takeaway for lunch.

In a perfect world, everybody would get to work in the exact remote model that fits their desired lifestyle—and everybody would win.

Are there any disadvantages to working remotely?

There are a few misconceptions about remote working that may show up as disadvantages if you aren’t careful with how you structure your remote work. While these traditionally affect freelancers the most, anybody new to figuring out what remote work means is bound to come into contact with them.

Lack of boundaries

Not being able to set specific time frames for work can end in disheveled schedules and inconsistencies across your organization. While most hybrid models still require an employee to show up a certain set of hours, some people may find themselves overworking, since their work is always with them. The easiest way to break this cycle is to have your office set up “packed away” at the end of every workday, even if that means turning off your computer for the night.

Trouble communicating

Not having direct access to colleagues or leadership can surprise many people once they begin remote working—many people get their daily socialization and administrative tasks done by word-of-mouth. Without access to the water cooler time at the office, encouraging frequent communication between team members, departments, and leadership is integral to creating a fluid transition from in-person to remote working.

The perception of remote work is changing

The world is shifting alongside the changes COVID-19 forced us to adapt to. If you want to stay competitive as a leader in your industry, supporting remote work options can show your care for your future and current employees.

But how can modern businesses transition into a remote work model after working in a traditional 9-to-5 for so long? The answer is simple to understand, but difficult to master: Develop and maintain strong habits for you and your team.

Strong habits in the age of remote working look like:

✓ Setting regular work hours that all team members—in-office or remote—must abide by.

✓ Encouraging remote workers to have a dedicated and distraction-free workspace, away from where they sleep, entertain themselves, or eat—if possible. This may be in their house or at a CoWorking space.

âś“ Making time for health including physical, mental, and social. Many people get their socialization from working around others, so fostering spaces for happy hours, social lunches, or virtual work events ensures everybody feels included in the team.

✓ Communicate proactively through distributed leadership. Just because a team member is remote doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of weekly and 1:1 meetings.

âś“ Treat remote offices with the same security concerns as a traditional office. No matter where your office is in the world, cybersecurity and data retention remains just as important. Consider providing both internet and VPN capabilities for your remote employees as part of the package.

Transitioning to remote working###

Even in remote locations, what remote work means for us isn’t as different than anywhere else in the world. With new technologies, businesss can have connectivity anywhere, anytime.

If you’re having trouble realizing the potential for remote work in your business, consider partnering with a technologies services company that knows the ins and outs of remote working, like Microsoft-partnered Ampersand.