Demand for Remote and Mobile Work is Growing
Remote work is no longer a concept reserved for only the cushiest of jobs.
Over the last decade, remote working programs have increased at a rate of around 159%. As employees from all environments look for greater work/life balance, remote employment is increasingly becoming the norm.
The term “remote working” refers to any employment opportunity that allows a staff member to complete their duties outside of the office. Usually, this means using a combination of cloud-based tools, and collaboration applications. In a world where video conferencing, file sharing and cloud storage are becoming increasingly accessible, remote work is on the rise. We’re beginning to see a future where work is something you do, not just a place you go to.
Also known as telecommuting and telework, remote working involves working in any location outside of your business. This could mean finishing your tasks at home, interacting with team members from a local coffee shop, or sending emails on the road. In years gone by, working from home, or cafes wouldn’t have been a possibility for most companies. If your colleagues wanted to get in touch with you, they couldn’t simply hope you’d pick up the phone or eventually answer an email.
However, the rise of tools like video conferencing, instant messaging, and even presence features is making remote working more accessible. Now, full-time remote positions are a genuine opportunity for many professionals. As the cost of commuting and the price of office real estate continues to increase, remote working could be the more cost-effective option.
Remote working has both been driven by and affected the communication technology we use every day. For instance, the rise of team collaboration tools, in part is what makes remote working a possibility for so many companies. However, collaborative applications would never have achieved the popularity they have today without the demand of remote workers to drive them.
The modern communication environment is becoming increasingly flexible and mobile. Employees want to be able to connect in real-time across a range of devices, and as such, in office communication is changing. Today, we’re growing less reliant on emails and in-office emails, and more dependent on huddle rooms, video calls, and file sharing.
Many studies suggest that as the workforce continues to become progressively digital, virtual tools like video conferencing and collaboration apps will become the preferred form of communication. FastCompany even believes that digital communication will become preferable to face-to-face conversations.
The working landscape has changed. Research suggests that remote work will equal or surpass fixed office employment by 2025. What’s more, half of the UK is expected to be working remotely at least part-time by 2020. Some of the trends that are helping to transform the workplace environment as we know it includes:
Collaborative tools like Slack have been around for some time, but they’ve only recently begun to gain popularity among the enterprise. As remote work emerges as the new norm, organisations are beginning to seek out more comprehensive collaborative tools. Applications that offer instant and real-time messaging are rarely enough anymore. Companies want tools that allow them to track employee performance, launch video conferences, and even share files or screens within seconds.
As collaborative opportunities continue to grow, there’s even an option for new and disruptive concepts to enter the marketplace. For instance, companies may be able to virtually bring their teams together through VR headsets or augmented reality in years to come.
We still have a way to go before video becomes the go-to solution for colleagues in the workplace. However, for remote workers, video can be an excellent way to feel less isolated from the rest of the team. Video provides an insight into the body language and nuances that people simply don’t get through instant messaging and voice calls.
What’s more, with new background blurring options and easy-to-access video conferencing tools, the adoption of video is growing by the day. In the future, video may become the most natural form of communication for remote workers.
To empower a team of remote and mobile workers, business leaders can no longer afford to invest exclusively in on-premise hardware. Solutions need to be accessible anywhere at any time. As such, applications and software are becoming increasingly valuable. For remote workers, a noise-canceling headset and softphone will often be the preferred choice to a wired desk phone.
The more freedom an application comes with, the easier it will be to implement into a remote-working environment.
As remote working trends continue to grow, businesses will also need to explore new ways of managing and supporting their employees wherever they are. Artificial intelligence solutions will bring virtual assistants to staff members wherever they are. These tools will help companies to set up company-wide meetings, even with people from different countries. AI could also automatically transcribe and translate messages from employees around the world.
With artificial intelligence, businesses will be able to continue breaking down the barriers between remote workers.
Whether it comes from a demand for greater work/life balance, or a need to reduce business costs, remote working is on the rise. Companies everywhere are beginning to see the benefits that they can get from a distributed team. After all, when your workers are remote, you can access talent from around the world, and help teams avoid the painful morning commute.