Remote work is here to stay—that’s the consensus of most industry experts. Contrary to popular belief, this job arrangement has been around for some time. In fact, according to Statista, 17 percent of employees worked from home (or anywhere they please) five days a week before COVID-19.
However, the pandemic definitely made it more significant. In 2020, the number of remote workers in the country soared to 44 percent. Moreover, although businesses across the country are reopening, some employees are less likely to come back. Companies like Twitter now allow their teams to work from home indefinitely.
There are huge changes that can redefine workplace dynamics, and while they offer benefits, they can also introduce challenges. To foresee problems and maximize the setup’s advantages, learn some of the remote work trends in 2021:
1. Companies and Employees May Compromise
In a survey by Flexjobs, only 2 percent of the respondents would want to return to the office to work full-time. Over 50 percent said they might quit their jobs if they are forced to go to their workplace. About 33 percent wanted to work from home permanently.
Not all jobs, though, can be done remotely or outsourced. In some cases, team members may have to meet face-to-face, especially since monitoring job performance can be tricky with telecommuting.
Industry specialists believe that, in the end, companies and employees may decide to compromise, giving rise to the hybrid model. This means that workers may report for one to two days a week in the workplace and then perform their jobs at home for the remaining days.
In turn, this arrangement will create an impact on real estate. The demand for commercial spaces may slow down unless they can also redesign their areas to accommodate hybrid—that is, they may offer modular offices and sharable desks.
On the other hand, employers may be able to save on rental and operating costs. Instead, they can divert their extra savings to remote-work-related benefits to employees, like the Internet, or use it to boost their cash flow and profitability.
2. Workplaces Will Learn to Maximize Tech
As more people desire to work online, companies are learning to spend more money on tech tools to increase performance, collaboration, and productivity. Take, for example, video conferencing platforms like Zoom.
In December 2019, Zoom catered to only 10 million participants, according to Business Insider. By March 2020, it ballooned to 200 million. A month after, 100 million more people used the app—a sharp rise of nearly 3,000 percent within these few short months.
Zoom continues to perform well even during the last three months of 2020 when many office jobs resumed, and restrictions were lifted. During this period, revenues increased by over 350 percent compared to the previous year.
The accessibility of remote-work-friendly tools also helps resolve an interesting new problem in the workplace today: labor shortage. Service-oriented companies may consider hiring employees or self-employed individuals like freelancers in other states to augment the workforce and use digital solutions to pay independent contractors online.
But with the increased use of tools comes the need for retraining and upgrading tech skills. Even before the pandemic, around 19 percent of businesses said they were already facing a skills gap, while nearly 60 percent claimed they might encounter the problem within one or two years. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated that.
Companies can help reduce the gap by creating or strengthening shadowing and mentoring programs. They can also partner with tech schools, so their employees can take advantage of courses at a discounted fee.
3. Remote Work Can Make Companies Vulnerable in Cyberspace
A recent report by Deloitte emphasized one major security concern in remote work: the increased risk of falling into cybercrimes. Switzerland, for example, recorded 350 attacks in April 2020 alone compared to between 100 and 150 cyberattacks before the pandemic.
Nearly half of the work-from-home employees experienced phishing scams, while around 500,000 people were impacted by breaches of information stolen from video conferencing services.
Deloitte cites many possible causes for the increasing number of cyberthreats among remote workers. One, malicious employees who have lesser supervision may be more tempted to carry out fraudulent activities.
Many workers also possess extensive knowledge of cyberprotection. Moreover, the current security measures of companies may not be robust enough or fit for their purpose that hackers can exploit them easily.
Businesses may minimize the odds of cyberthreats by frequent cyberaudits and employee performance and behavior reviews, creating a crisis and data recovery plan, using a VPN, educating their workers about cybersecurity, and encouraging a more effective home network security.
Remote work is here, and companies cannot deny it. Instead of resisting, they can become more open to its possibilities, make the most of its benefits while reducing the effects of the challenges it can introduce into the workplace.