Remote Work vs Local.

Before the word ‘pandemic’ was so ingrained in our daily vocabulary – and lives – experts predicted significant changes to the way we work. Pre-pandemic, remote work was a nice perk, but it certainly wasn’t the norm in most industries. In the U.S., more than 7 million people were working remotely before COVID-19, which is about 3.4 percent of the total population. Now, 82 percent of businesses embrace this new hybrid workforce by giving employees the option to work from home or other flexible work locations. In a recent survey, 32 percent of respondents said having the ability to choose where they work (hello, Portugal) is more important than getting a promotion.

Remote Work Expectations are Shifting.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have undergone major changes this past year, perhaps the most significant shift to remote work. A recent Upwork survey reports that 1 in 4 Americans (26.7%) will continue working remotely in 2021, up from just 7% in 2018. This is an interesting spot to be in as both an employer and employee, and it raises a lot of questions about what the future of work will look like.

Let’s look at a few trends impacting the way we work right now:

  • As vaccination efforts increase and we begin to open up, more people will be traveling and working from the road.
  • Enterprises will continue to leverage technology and harness tools like online meetings and VoIP phones to stay connected to workers.
  • People are still figuring out the right work-life balance, which has impacted traditional working hours (the 9-to-5 is no longer the norm!)
  • Cybersecurity has become a top concern for organizations.
  • There will be an increased reliance on productivity tools and asynchronous communications.
  • More companies are moving to the cloud and adopting cloud-based technology, such as faxing.
  • The need for large physical office spaces is a thing of the past, raising concerns for commercial real estate investors.

With these trends in mind, we can’t help but wonder if remote work will replace in-person positions. That same Upwork survey mentioned above offers an interesting look into the future – with managers predicting 22.3 percent of workers will still be remote in five years. These trends are eye-opening, to put it mildly, and bring awareness to the monumental changes brought on by the pandemic.

It’s important for business leaders and managers to understand the long-term effects of this shift in the workforce. Resisting the inevitable will only create greater obstacles, so it’s important to get on board and embrace video conferencing, VoIP calling, and other forms of technology that keep us connected and productive. To learn more about Vai’s services or the future of work, give us a call today!