Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, our work lives have changed drastically. During the past two years, this has involved working remotely from home, driven primarily by health and safety concerns as well as the necessity to keep the ball rolling in terms of professional work. As things stand now, the pandemic will be a part of life even in 2022.

However, the good news is that people have learned to adapt to new work approaches, expectations, and behavioural patterns as they handle their professional roles. But what’s the future of remote work? Let’s consider some important factors to decode what the future of remote work would look like.

  1. Remote work model will stay

According to Gartner, 51% of all knowledge workers across the globe are anticipated to be working remotely by the end of this year (2021), compared to 27% in 2019. By this year-end, remote workers are estimated to represent 32% of all global employees. As the pandemic continues, the remote work model is likely to stay. This will be primarily driven by employees themselves, who prefer a flexible WFH (work from home) lifestyle that lets them work remotely. To attract and retain top talent, companies too will design their work culture and perks in a way that they align with a flexible remote work model.  

A Prudential survey corroborated the popularity of remote work. It revealed that one in three workers wouldn’t be inclined to work for an employer that needs them to be onsite full-time. It also found that a whopping 87% of workers preferred to work remotely at least once a week. When deciding whether they should continue with their jobs or leave, three-quarters of workers considered job benefits as the key decisive factor. Apart from compensation, other factors they cared the most about were flexible work schedules (31%), closely followed by mobility opportunities (25%), and options for remote work (22%). But despite the popularity of remote work, there’s a catch.

According to McKinsey, remote work is likely to be extremely concentrated among highly educated and highly skilled workers in some specific occupations, industries, and geographies. In other words, remote work will be sector-specific, which will benefit those, in say IT, but won’t help others, such as hairdressers, in-store supermarket staff, nurses, electricians, etc., as they won’t have the option to work remotely.

2. Companies will adopt the hybrid work model

Though some companies will continue to have decentralized remote offices and centralized workplaces, many will choose the hybrid work model as it promises to offer the “best of both worlds.” Unlike forcing employees to decide if they want to work in an office or remotely, a hybrid approach offers them autonomy to choose the work location that suits them the best, albeit with the acknowledgement that it could be altered. Therefore, under the hybrid model, employees may opt for working from their homes a few days each week or choose in-office work every now and then. The basic idea is to give up on rigidity and embrace a lot of flexibility instead.

According to a McKinsey research, 9 out of 10 executives foresee a hybrid model in the future. The employees too appear to echo their thoughts as 52% of workers said they would favour companies with a more flexible working model in the post-pandemic phase.

3. Companies will invest in the right training and tools

Remote work might have appeared as a stop-gap arrangement during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but companies that thought so have now realized that it’s here to stay. As a result, they have focused on embracing this work model permanently. This involves securing the most suitable tools to empower remote teams to help them communicate, collaborate, and work efficiently and seamlessly – both in real-time and asynchronously.

Unlike inefficient processes, outdated technology, and old-fashioned workarounds that were the norm at many workplaces, companies are now getting instant messaging tools, project management platforms, virtual meeting solutions, and goal dashboards to set up remote-friendly tech-savvy systems. And this will be a persistent trend in the future as remote work is set to cover a sizable working population worldwide.

Companies will also start investing in adequate training for their people leaders and managers, who are heading up distributed departments and teams, to help them direct and support their remote teams. This will be a crucial game-changer as 40% of managers and supervisors in a survey by Harvard Business Review confessed about the low confidence in their abilities to manage remote workers, while another 41% worried about how they would ensure their remote employees stayed motivated. However, just 24% of companies train their managers about ways to support their remote teams.

As the future will see remote work being embraced by many, companies will focus on investing and training their leaders, managers, and employees with the right tools and knowledge to let them handle their respective tasks without hiccups.

Thank you for reading,

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