Everything is changing due to remote work, from how we approach work-life balance to how we communicate to how we assess productivity. Many of the norms that formerly defined the bounds of our working lives have been changed by the "remote work experiment". Companies like Twitter have effectively proclaimed a WFH "forever" policy, and 53% of US poll respondents said they expect to work from home at least part-time in the future. Remote, co-located, dispersed, and borderless workforces will use digital technologies to stay connected and productive in the future of work.
For many businesses, adjusting to working from home during the coronavirus epidemic was quick and painless (Courtney, 2020). But, pandemic or not, many businesses realize that permanent remote employment is the way of the future (Courtney, 2020).
What is remote working?
Employees can work from home or any location other than their company's physical office in a remote work environment (Wrike, 2021). Often, this entails setting up a workplace at home. On the other hand, working remotely may expand beyond the limits of your home. A good example is that of "digital nomads," who work while traveling full-time, remote work is a popular choice. Instead of working from home, people might work from hotels, beach clubs, coffee shops, or even airport lounges (Wrike, 2021).
In the past, working remotely in this manner would have been challenging (Courtney, 2020). Collaboration technologies such as Slack, Zoom, and Wrike have helped bridge the technological divide, allowing more employees to work remotely and communicate on the move (Wrike, 2021).
What does fully remote mean?
A fully remote individual, team, or organization operates without the need for a centralized office (Lund et al., 2020). For instance, a team may have a "completely remote" member that, whereas their peers work in an office, works from home all of the time. On the other hand, a complete team or firm may be remote, with no employees reporting to a physical office site (Lund et al., 2020). Companies that operate entirely from afar are also becoming more prevalent. GitLab is an example of a company that has successfully managed 100% remote teams (Lund et al., 2020).
What does hybrid work mean?
The structure of a typical workplace is combined with the flexibility of remote work in hybrid remote work (Wrike, 2021). Employees in a hybrid work environment can work from home several days a week while simultaneously visiting a physical workplace when necessary. "But why would someone want to be a hybrid worker?" you might wonder.
At the same time as the worldwide COVID-19 epidemic drove employees into temporary home offices, it also shifted many global workers' day-to-day duties. The Brookings Institution estimates that over 23 million working parents in the United States do not have access to a child care provider. Working parents can benefit from more workplace flexibility when daycare is unavailable (Courtney, 2020).
A hybrid work environment considers the reality of employees' changing obligations at home and the "Next to Normal" of socially separated workplaces, staggered work times, and enhanced hygiene procedures (Courtney, 2020).
Why is there a shift in perception of remote work?
People's perceptions about remote employment have changed dramatically in a very short period. This is partly due to advances in technology and technologies that enable people to work from anywhere.
Flexibility and remote working were once considered more of a "bonus." HR executives are now aware that firms with flexible remote work practices are more likely to recruit and retain top talent. In fact, 80% of workers stated that if given a choice between two identical employment offers, they would choose the one that offered more flexibility.
An age gap amongst employees might also be to blame for the shift in the attitude of remote working. Millennials and Gen Z employees have a different perspective on remote work than their elders (Lund et al., 2020). According to CNBC, three-quarters of Millennial and Gen Z managers say they have members of their team who work from home a significant portion of the time. After the epidemic, many workers in this broad age range said they plan to continue working from home at least part-time (Lund et al., 2020).
Of course, the Coronavirus is the elephant in the room, and it's a big reason why some businesses are looking at remote work differently than they used to (Lund et al., 2020). Many businesses formerly had strict "no work from home" policies. However, when the epidemic made office work impossible, these businesses were compelled to reconsider their positions and implement employee work-from-home policies for the first time (Lund et al., 2020).
Types of remote working from home jobs
Remote working is a viable alternative for organizations in various sectors. Businesses and employment types where most of the work may be done online or on a local device are frequently eligible for remote work. Jobs that need most work to be physically present are not generally suited to remote work.
Flexjobs (2020) has selected the five most popular roles for remote workers:
Examples of Companies Switching to Long-Term Remote Work
Below are organizations that have made a move to long-term remote employment according to the FlexJobs database (2021):
Adobe is a software business that specializes in customer-focused web-based applications and content development solutions. It is an innovative company with a wide range of goods and solutions. The firm is dedicated to creating a wonderful workplace for its employees.
Remote work plans: Employees will be able to work from home for around half of the time and at the office for the rest.
Dropbox allows individuals and businesses to sync files share, and collaborate on projects from anywhere at any time.
Remote work plans: Dropbox will allow all workers to work from home on an ongoing basis. Existing office space will be transformed into Dropbox Studios, where users will choose whether or not to work.
Facebook, which was founded in 2004, is the world's largest social media network, with over 2.6 billion monthly active members.
Remote work plans: Facebook stated in June 2021 that employees would be able to work from home permanently.
4. Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, was formed in 1903 and has grown to produce better technology, a more sustainable environment, and stronger communities.
Remote work plans: Employees will work from home with flexible hours forever. When appropriate, hybrid work will be implemented for group meetings and projects.
Locally in Zimbabwe, we have organizations in the NGO and private sector adopting these same measures choosing from fully remote working and hybrid remote working.
Long after COVID-19 is defeated, some types of remote work are likely to remain. This will necessitate several changes, including increased digital infrastructure investment, office space release, and structural changes in cities, food services, commercial real estate, and retail. It also runs the danger of exacerbating disparities and causing additional psychological and emotional stressors, including isolation, among employees. For most businesses, allowing workers to work outside of the office will need the re-invention of several procedures and rules.
Milton Jack is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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