Remote work increased dramatically during the pandemic, and there’s been a lot of talk on whether it’s a fad or permanent trend.
Many companies established permanent remote work due to the pandemic, including Twitter, Asana, and Spotify. Here we’ll discuss all there is to know about remote work, such as if it’s here to stay, some pivotal remote work trends, and what you as an organization can do about work from home.
Is Remote Work Here to Stay?
Before you can be fully sold on the idea of embracing remote work, you’ll need to be convinced that it’s here to stay. Research suggests that remote work is the way of the future and, even if only in a hybrid model, isn’t going anywhere. Here are the most convincing remote work trends.
It’s What the People Want
iCIMS, a recruiting software platform, found that 20% of applications are submitted from out-of-state and that candidates are demanding remote and flexible work in far greater numbers.
To stay competitive and attract the best talent, you’ll want to accommodate flexible work and accept remote candidates.
Access to a Larger Talent Pool
When you require 100% in-person work, your candidate pool shrinks drastically to your local area (maybe including the small percentage of people willing to relocate). Compare that number of candidates to the entire country or possibly the world, and you can understand why it limits your talent pool so dramatically.
Remote work means you have access to the best talent from around the globe.
Increased Company Earnings
One critical remote work trend is that many companies, including Cisco and Best Buy, reported a significant increase in earnings due to remote work.
Cisco’s Internet Business Service Group reported annual savings of $277 million due to remote work, and Best Buy stated its quarterly earnings grew by 20% compared to last year — although that’s also partly due to people consuming more media when stuck at home.
These are a select-few benefits of remote work that demonstrate why it’s here to stay, at least in part, and why it’s beneficial for you as a company to embrace it.
Important WFH Information: Remote Work Trends
If you’re considering embracing remote work, here are some critical remote work trends to be aware of that will shape how you implement it long-term at your organization.
- Many New Jobs are Offering Remote Work
In the US alone, remote work increased from 17% to 44% of the workforce during the pandemic. According to one survey, 25% of people expect remote work to be an employment benefit.
This remote work trend is loud and clear — people want to stay home. Due to this increased demand for remote work, significantly more companies are offering permanent or partial remote work as an option. This trend includes some tech giants such as Twitter, Spotify, Atlassian, Dropbox, and Zillow.
- Increased Respect for Non-Working Hours
One negative side effect of work-from-home was the increase in working hours. Before the pandemic, when an employee left the office, a clear boundary was drawn. Work was finished for the day, and the employee wouldn’t be accessible.
Instead, when we all work from our homes anyway, lines got blurred. People found it harder to disconnect and were expected to be available around the clock.
According to Kentik, 51% of employees are worried about their work-life balance. This remote work trend is something that employers need to understand and counteract. They should be setting clear company-wide policies that mandate respect for personal time, and perhaps they’ll even embrace app and notification blockers.
- Cybersecurity Matters (More)
Work from home means employees can travel the world and work from anywhere. This is one of many remote work trends that creates more freedom for employees.
Although working abroad often requires employer approval and temporary (or long-term) work visas, this raises some company concerns. According to one survey, 40% of companies are concerned about cybersecurity risks with employees working remotely.
One of your remote work policies should include balancing flexibility with security and implementing the right technologies. Firewalls, VPNs, and other technologies are being used to maintain security while workers travel.
- Decreased Number of Conference Calls
As people begin adjusting to WFH, many of them aren’t as enthusiastic about video calls as they once were — for some, video calls were always a nuisance. There’s something intrusive about having your camera on during a video call; perhaps it’s the display of one’s home or the lack of “video preparedness” since people are comfortable at home in sweatpants.
Companies are now spending “20% of their meeting room budgets” on conference call tech. That said, this invasive nature of video calls will need to be rectified. We may see a decrease in conference calls (or at least mandatory cameras on).
- Asynchronous Communication
Asynchronous communication isn’t a new remote work trend. Many remote companies have been dealing with this since their inception. Although it can be challenging to adjust, asynchronous communication allows for greater flexibility and equality throughout time zones.
GitLab is one large company embracing async communication and planning for it. Here are some ways they make it work as part of their remote work policies:
- Weekly announcements. These announcements are distributed and can be viewed whenever is convenient for a given employee. This methodology is as opposed to everyone being required to join a video call at a specific time.
- Planning poker. Although a strange term, this is oddly useful. GitLab asks employees to “tag” their teammates when an issue requires that person’s attention. That way, the other party can view it when it’s convenient for them, but it also ensures the issue doesn’t get left by the wayside. Many different technologies (such as Google Workspace or Asana) allow you to tag teammates on essential topics.
- Agendas, always. Sometimes, teammates will be unable to attend meetings. Always create thorough agendas and have someone take detailed notes, so members who don’t attend can catch up independently.
- Checking in. GitHub uses Slack to create polls that ask questions such as what are your top priorities this week, do you need help with anything, and what went live as of last Tuesday? These questions help employees voice concerns and equally help managers “manage” workloads and deliverables.
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- Figure Out Those Hybrid Meetings
Some people want to go to the office, others may have to, and some won’t be going in at all. However, meetings between all these working styles will occur. Thus, hybrid meetings are born.
A hybrid meeting is one where some attendees are in the office and others are remote. We wrote an entire article on how to get these meetings right and avoid hiccups. Some of the tips include reworking traditional meetings, taking notes, and establishing rules ahead of time.
- Retraining and Upskilling are In Demand
Due to the pandemic, there is a more significant employee skill gap. According to Gartner, a slim 16% of workers hired today possess the skills needed to do their job. Additionally, people face more career possibilities with remote work, so they’re looking to upskill and reskill.
This remote work trend highlights the importance of allowing workers to build their skills. This helps make employees more productive overall.
Some ways to help your employees upskill or reskill include building a leadership development program, offering stipends for further education, conferences, and more, and hosting regular conferences of your own on building particular skills.
- Performance Expectations are Changing
Remote work means it’s harder to track how many hours your employees are working. There’s been a large shift in evaluation metrics to focus on work completed rather than time spent working. Not only is this significantly more productive for both organizations and employees, but it supports flexible work.
However, today, only 24% of managers are being taught how to work with remote employees and support them. This is one of many remote work statistics highlighting the importance of changing policies to accommodate remote work.
Going forward, companies need to plan on helping managers bring teams together and evaluate them in the world of WFH.
What You as the Company Can Do to Accommodate These Remote Work Trends
It should be clear by now that remote work is here to stay and offers benefits to you as the company. Here’s what you can do to begin supporting WFH.
- Set Rules of Engagement
Communicating with your teammates was more organic when everyone was together in the office. Remote work trends indicate that some, if not all, employees will remain at home, so you’ll want to establish rules of engagement. These specify information including:
- What times are best for reaching me
- This is when I’m offline
- If something is urgent, contact me this way (message, email, call)
- If something is nonurgent, contact me this other way
- Schedule daily/weekly check-ins so it’s easier to stay up to speed
The goal of these rules of engagement is to give employees the information they need to communicate and handle urgent situations easily.
- Allow for Remote Social Interaction
An unfortunate remote work trend is that employees tend to feel more isolated. One study found that loneliness can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, so you’ll want to do your best to support social interaction, even if remotely.
Here are some ways you can foster social engagement remotely:
- Leave a few minutes at the start of each call for personal engagement (i.e. “how was your weekend?” or “Is your dog feeling better after his surgery?”
- Virtual tastings, pizza parties, or anything else where supplies are delivered to employees’ homes and enjoyed together remotely.
- Scheduled movie nights, game nights, or other social activities. Putting these on the calendar helps workers plan for them.
- Offer Different Options for Communication
Although email was the hot pick for virtual communication pre-pandemic, post-pandemic life requires more robust technology. Your remote work policies should include a rich technology stack that has video conferencing (Zoom, Meet), messaging software (Slack, Teams), project management software (Asana, Airtable), and more.
If you don’t already have these tech stacks in place, you’ll want to get to work on them right away. First, establish the fundamental technologies, such as video conferencing and project management software.
- Establish Regular Check-Ins
Frequent and scheduled check-ins between teammates and managers/employees help keep everyone on track and synchronized. It’s easy to get sucked into your own world when working remotely, and on collaborative teams, that won’t do.
Scheduling regular check-ins, whether daily, weekly, or less frequent, helps independent remote workers stay collaborative.
- Manage the Length of Video Meetings
Each day, there are 25 million meetings per day in the US alone. Unfortunately, remote participants tend to be less engaged. We pick up 80% of signals from body language, a factor that’s hard to involve when speaking virtually.
Keep these meetings as short as possible since you know that engaging remote employees on video calls is an uphill battle. This decreases the demand on people’s attention spans.
To Properly Embrace Remote Work, Your Executives Need to Believe In It
According to the most significant remote work trends, WFH is here to stay. The most successful organizations will be the ones that embrace it; you can start by implementing some of the suggestions above.
If the people at the top don’t believe in remote work, it can’t possibly thrive at your company. Looking for the right executives to embrace remote work and help your company grow post-pandemic? Jennings Executive can help. We’re a leading executive recruitment firm with over two decades of experience. Learn more today and begin paving your path forward!