Last Updated on August 25, 2022 by James Ewen
A staggering 97% of employees do not want to return to their offices full-time after the Covid 19 pandemic.
It goes on to show how deep-rooted the effects of Covid-19 and remote work are. Whether we like it or not, we are facing a paradigm shift in work cultures across the world.
A wide range of stats and figures on remote work shows that people are increasingly inclined towards remote or hybrid work.
Some even agree to take a pay cut to be able to work from home. These stats hint toward a future that is going to be dominated by remote work.
In this article, we will look at the future of remote work and how it’s going to manifest itself within the next year (2023).
There are various trends and patterns to understand and prepare for. The earlier you prepare yourself for the transition, the better it would be for your business.
This is the future of remote work in 2023
While we are not 100% free of the covid virus yet, much of its immediate impact is gone.
Now is the time for companies to make an important call regarding the future of remote work. Many companies have already noted the benefits of working remotely. They no longer have to look for solutions to a lack of parking space or pay hefty office rents every month.
Elon Musk notably spoke against remote work in a letter to Tesla employees. But at the same time, it’s important to note that Tesla is a specialized manufacturing company that requires in-person collaboration. For other businesses that do not need physical collaboration, remote work is undoubtedly the future.
The argument for remote work
There are two major grounds upon which we can argue in favor of remote work. First, the work/life balance it enables. And second, many operations can now be carried out flawlessly over remote collaboration, thanks to rapid improvements in technology. All the other arguments in favor of remote work talk rely on one of these two precepts.
The argument against remote work
The argument against remote work also has two major foundations, but it’s somewhat different from the argument in favor of remote work. First, it is not possible to work remotely in some sectors. You cannot run an amusement park remotely, for example. But talking about these sectors diverts us from the real question. No one is calling for physical labor-intensive sectors to go remote, and using such an argument makes no sense.
The more pragmatic argument against remote work is that it breeds loneliness, disconnect, and eventually several other mental health problems. Human beings are social creatures, and the workplace has historically been a place to socialize. In turn, that may make employees happier and more productive.
Let’s see what the stats tell us:
- 43% of remote workers have a hard time focusing on remote meetings.
- Women working from home face an increased burden if they have dependent family members.
- Zoom fatigue is now a real problem for an overwhelming number of remote employees.
While these stats don’t tell a complete story, they do make us aware of the fact that remote work is not without its evils.
Is remote work going to be universally adopted in the future?
The short answer to that question is no, because it’s not possible, at least not with the foreseeable improvements in technology. But it also draws our attention to the fact that more and more offices will go remote in the future. The reasons are simple:
● Save money
● Be productive
● Get access to a global talent pool
● Retain employees who value flexibility
Now, we do need to factor in the people who do not feel comfortable working remotely. Some entrepreneurs do not feel comfortable working with their team remotely, and there are good reasons behind it.
When your business is in its foundational stages, the team has to work together beyond the call of the duty. It’s an unwritten rule that has shown its worth across successful companies.
To address this gap, many people are suggesting a hybrid work model.
Is a hybrid work model the answer?
It perhaps is.
The hybrid work model brings together the advantages of remote and in-office working. However, the problem starts when employees are forced to work in a hybrid setting without their active enthusiasm.
For someone working remotely from a great distance, the hybrid model is very inconvenient.
The same goes for people who have shifted to less expensive places to save money while working remotely. Having said that, there are some undeniable advantages of the hybrid work model.
A hybrid work model makes it possible for any company to switch to remote work. The departments that cannot function remotely continue to work from the office, while other departments visit the office as and when required. In theory, it sounds fine. But in practice, it may lead to a disconnect among the employees, which is not a good thing for any company.
While the hybrid work model is not without its flaws, it’s perhaps the most feasible in the long run. But that’s only until we do not factor in the potential growth of technology. When Web 3 is a reality and more people are acquainted with the concept of the metaverse, remote work might see another leap.
The challenges to remote work in 2023
There are more reasons than challenges to shift to remote work in 2023. But that does not mean there are no challenges at all. Among all the issues facing remote workers, difficulty in communication is the biggest problem.
Communication is key to collaboration, and collaboration is often key to success. Perhaps the most undeniable disadvantage of remote work is that it makes communication more difficult. While that does not negate the progress that calling and conferencing platforms have made, we as humans are still wired for physical interactions.
When we talk to someone face to face, it’s not only the words that convey meaning. How we look at them, how our hands move, the gestures, etc. are also tools for communication. In video conferencing, we are only using our speech or written words to convey meaning. That often makes it stressful to sit in meetings for hours on end. It’s one of the contributors to Zoom fatigue.
Unfortunately, we do not yet have any solution to this problem. Communication continues to be a problem for remote workers and managers.
The only way we can address this problem is by introducing innovative measures to boost communication among employees. Be it through games or virtual events, it would need more effort to get the employees talking to each other and the management.
Once we deal with the communication crises, remote work will become much more utilitarian.
Is the world optimistic about remote work?
By and large, it is. More and more people are now inclined towards remote work. At the start of the pandemic, the idea of working from home had a sudden burst. As we battled our way through the pandemic, people started waking up to its myriad benefits. It’s almost as if we stumbled upon the benefits of remote work accidentally.
Now CEOs, managers, and small business owners are talking about a future where remote work would be the norm. There’s no question that technology will play a key role in it.
For instance, many roles that require human expertise now would be done by intelligent machines in the future, thanks to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Whenever that technologically transformative era begins, remote work would see another round of adoption.
Things to consider about remote work
The first thing that we all need to be mindful of is the fact that remote work is still new. It’s barely 2 complete years since the widespread adoption of working from home. As such, we still need time to figure out the answers to many of the questions related to working from home.
Another thing that we need to focus on is technology literacy. We can also use the term upskilling in this context.
For the pre-90s generation still in the workforce, adapting to so many changes in such a short time is not possible without external support. Companies must use this opportunity to make all their employees tech-literate, no matter which department they work in.
For employees, taking care of mental health is a top priority if they are working remotely. While it should always be a priority, those working day in and out in seclusion need to pay special attention.
Be it consulting a therapist or practicing physical and mental wellness, everyone needs to do something to protect their sanity.
The last thing to note about remote work is that it’s inevitable. Sooner or later, we will largely be working remotely. The earlier you prepare, the better it is for you and your business.
Making predictions is risky.
At the same time, ignoring the trends and patterns is also unwise. The need of the hour is to be aware of the direction of remote work.
We hope this guide opens your mind to the possibilities and problems of remote work and how you can find your way through it.
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco