Future Of Remote Work (Adapt Quickly)

The future of remote work will hold both benefits and costs to an employee. These need to be explored to ensure the right balance can be found for workers.

The future trade-offs of remote work will include hybrid work environments, remote employees, and a less structured, more flexible workday.

The Future Remote Work Pros And Cons

Shifting Corporate Landscape

Corporations over the past half dozen or more years have been trending toward more open office floor plans. Millennial-friendly workspaces that allow for greater collaboration between teams.

Part of the concept was to bring in more team members into a smaller size footprint, in relation to traditional office space areas.  This was a win for the corporation allowing them to either decrease their total space ownership or more efficiently use that space they already own.

It can also be looked at as a win for employees, although not all employees like the open office concept, giving them a community feel. Letting them buy into the idea of teamwork, collaboration, flex schedules, etc.

Today, however, the onslaught of a global pandemic has forced corporations to adapt very quickly to remote workforces and flexible work models. While this may have been a trend for some corporations, not all have been prepared for the sudden shift to remote work by its employees.

This forced working remotely has also caught many employees off-guard, as they may find themselves unprepared for working at home. For example, struggling with using video collaboration software. If they encounter problems or issues who do they turn to, they are at home by themselves. This could very easily turn the whole workday into an unproductive waste of time.

Open office floor plans have already become the norm. Was this a mistake?

Is Remote Work The Future?

As corporations and employees alike resolve these issues, many have seen the future.
Corporations are encouraging their employees to continue remote working.

Corporations recognize productivity remains at a high level, if not better.

According to Lenovo’s global research, “77% of employees feel that companies will be more open to or even encourage letting workers work remotely once we get through this period“.

Of course, there are trade-offs, there is no one size fits all model. Maybe that’s the beauty of it all right there, there are options and flexibility for the employee.

Work at home, come into the office for a meeting, whatever way works for both parties.

There are options and flexibility for the employee.

Strains On IT Staff

In any case, for a successful work at home model, a corporation will rely heavily on its IT staff. I think IT departments in every business have been working overtime during the pandemic.

They have a lot on their plate. Just some of the IT staff’s duties include revamping or updating the corporation’s webpage, ensuring the network is more robust with near 100% uptime, and of course security is essential. On top of that, they have been inundated with support calls from employees.

I mentioned security. At the office, devices are protected behind a corporate firewall. At home, devices log into the corporate network but they are on a potentially unsecured home network.

Data breaches and phishing scams are on the rise so employees need to be educated on best security practices put in place by the corporation.

What Does The Future Of Work Look Like?

Will we be in open office floor plans or working at home from our spare bedroom?

According to a new report from Gartner, “74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work, as they realize cost savings associated with such a move“.

As I mentioned above, flexibility and options are the keys. Employees don’t have to be in a certain location to get their work done.

Access to a robust internet connection and following their corporation’s security procedures are the requirements for the remote worker.

Hybrid Work Environment?

I’ll label this a hybrid work environment. Many corporate employees will work from home or any remote location for that matter. If and when they need to be in the office, they can do so.

The location will become less important as high-speed networks become increasingly available.
This is the type of flexibility employees will desire and probably demand moving forward.

Lenovo recently released its Future of Work Study where it was found: “Part of what’s making this work is the wide adoption of collaboration software, something nearly all companies have adopted. Zoom is the most used, followed by Microsoft (Teams, Office 365) and Google
(Meet, Docs).”

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What Is The Cost Of Remote Work?

Think about this shift for a moment.
Traditionally we would go to work and essentially clock in under the watchful eye of a manager. The corporation had to be sure to know where you were and what project you were working on throughout the day. Metrics were taken to track employee efficiencies etc. It was all very structured and I think rightfully so, for the most part.

Projecting forward, there will be less ‘structure’ but at what trade-off. Employees are and will be constantly connected by their phones and laptops to the corporate infrastructure.

What initially seemed like more freedom of movement to the employee will shift to a constantly tethered employee.

This plays out in other areas of our lives too, where we are always connected and always online. Does this shift represent a positive to corporate employees? Perhaps younger workers will adapt quite easily while older workers find themselves resistant.

What initially seemed like more freedom of movement to the employee will shift to a constantly tethered employee.

Working Remotely Pros And Cons

As I’ve said, employees gain increased flexibility in their work environment.
Corporations also get a win as many are shedding office space which lessens their cost burden. It’s reported that productivity increases among remote workers and management can focus more on project results and less on hours worked.

It would seem both parties reap the benefits of the new work environment. There are always trade-offs to be made while seeking a new balance.

Remote Work Flexibility

Moving Forward To Remote Work

Let’s jump ahead a few years to imagine the remote work experience.

5G network availability will be everywhere which provides super-fast and very low latency network communications. This itself will be an important factor in real-time video communications from any location. 5G will be utilized in the internet of things(IoT) devices, smartphones, laptops, vehicles, etc.
In other words, we will more than ever be connected to everything all the time.

Corporations will have the means to keep tabs on employees at all times, see where they go, who they contact, etc.

On the other hand, remote work employees will realize even more flexibility. They will be able to work from home, car, train, cafe, anywhere. And think of this, you could apply for a remote job located anywhere in the world.

I keep trying to stress the trade-offs. Employees will benefit surely and enjoy additional work flexibility, but corporations certainly will implement practices that benefit them.

Remote work employees will need to stay vigilant to their cost-benefit analysis moving forward.

Summary

If you or your corporation has decided to stick with a work-at-home model it pays to be flexible.  There are going to be, if there haven’t yet, issues and problems to be resolved before everything runs smoothly. But, once we are all through these trying times the future trade-offs of remote work will have been transformed and hopefully for the better.

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