The Trends and Benefits of Working Remotely
A greater acceptance of life and work balance is just the tip of the iceberg.
In two earlier posts, we discussed the state of working remotely in the U.S. this fall and shared which big companies are leading the way. The decision to offer remote work options comes with its own set of pros and cons. In this post, we examine both sides of the remote-working coin and take a look at emerging remote work trends — many of which are likely to extend into 2021.
Why Do We Find Remote Work So Appealing?
Pre-pandemic, remote work was more of a choice than a necessity, touted for its many benefits, which include:
- Higher salaries. Remote work tends to dominate the so-called “knowledge work” fields such as tech, finance, media — any job that can be performed remotely and pays well. Also, remote work was found to be more common in cities with high income levels.
- High retainment rate. In one survey, more than three-fourths of respondents cited flexible schedules and remote work as the most effective nonmonetary ways to retain employees. And, according to a recent Remote Work Report, “42% of people who are 100% remote said they have been working remotely for more than 5 years.”
- Higher morale. Responding to one survey, 90% of employees said that allowing for more flexible work arrangements and schedules would improve employee morale.
- Higher job satisfaction. Amerisleep’s study of 1,001 remote workers found that they are 57% more likely than an average American to be satisfied with their job. Also, nearly 80% of respondents described their typical stress level during the workweek as either “not stressed” or only “moderately stressed.”
- Better productivity. FlexJobs’ 2018 annual survey found that 65% of respondents were more productive in their home office than in a traditional workplace. “Fewer distractions and interruptions, less stress from no commute, minimal office politics, and a personalized, quiet environment are all contributors to a more productive remote worker.”
- Healthier employees. As we’re also learning right now, working remotely means less exposure to germs. But even before the pandemic, according to Indeed’s Remote Work Survey, 50% of remote employees said working from home reduced their sick days, and 56% said it reduced their absences.
- Better for the environment. No commute means taking cars off the road, so that’s less traffic and air pollution and fewer burdens on the infrastructure like our roads.
The Downsides of Remote Work
Not everyone is smitten with the prospect of working from home. Some cons are obvious, while others could be deeply individual, depending on the person’s temperament and home environment. Downsides may include:
- Cybersecurity concerns
- Fewer opportunities for real-time collaboration
- Potential for employee isolation
- Less socializing and communication
- Increased difficulty in evaluating employee productivity
- More sources of distraction
- Having to juggle different time zones
- Difficulty in creating work-life boundaries
- Lack of policies, training, or tools to manage remote teams
- Lack of trust in employees and their ability to be productive
All that said, many of these downsides can disappear when companies establish clear deadlines and boundaries, set a strong cybersecurity policy (along with any other policies needed to successfully manage remote workers), and make sure their employees have the tools they need to be productive.
The Current Remote Work Trends
One recent survey of 500 executives examined how the global health crisis has impacted their businesses and altered their roadmaps for 2020. The results revealed that remote work is more than a passing trend. It’s here to stay.
- 70% of those surveyed reported that after their offices reopen, they will let some (or all) of their employees continue to work remotely.
- 70% of formerly office-based employees will be permitted to work remotely.
- 66% are reconsidering investments in their office spaces.
- 65% stated that if stay-at-home orders were lifted tomorrow, they would not return their companies to the office.
- 76% reported that productivity has either remained stable or increased as a result of working remotely.
Although work models could change at any moment, some trends and projections shaped by the pandemic, are emerging. Since remote work means working from anywhere, not just home, here’s what we can expect:
- An increasing exodus from expensive, high-density cities like New York and San Francisco.
- Changes in management policies and work relationships. Trust has economic value, and companies that invest in building trust and creating boundaries will be able to thrive.
- Falling office rents. This might be a good thing, actually, making the big cities more affordable.
- Redefined concepts of networking. With office lunch temporarily gone, and Zoom happy hours holding only limited appeal, companies will keep finding ways for their workers to network and socialize.
- Greater acceptance of flexible schedules and accommodations for life outside of work. Whether it’s an unexpected cat cameo, or your kid talking in the background during your Zoom meeting, families are no longer invisible. There’s a greater acceptance across the board that we have lives outside of work, and they also require our time and focus.
While we can only hypothesize how some trends will shape up, it’s clear that the global health crisis radically redefined how we perceive remote work and the concept of work-life balance. It’s also made it obvious that working from anywhere is here to stay.
Is transitioning to remote work creating cost and security issues in your organization? CyberReef can help. For more information on how you can make working remotely for your organization more secure, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (318) 497-7230.