Work from home is a phrase we all have heard a significant number of times in the last year. It has revolutionized the workforce, changed how brands perceive their employees and completely transformed work from a rigid time bound schedule to a flexible 24 hour clock in which the task is given more importance than arriving at 9 am sharp. It has become so popular that many companies have started embracing it as a part of their work culture.
Companies are already in the process or have posted clear remote working policies, some of which state that all of their employees will be working from remote locations indefinitely. This sentiment is not only reflected by the employers but also by the employees. India is not willing to go back to traditional office settings. According to a survey by CNN, 74% of Indians want to continue working from home after the pandemic. They find the flexibility to work wherever they want liberating and find that the quality time spent with family is very helpful. The Forbes magazine says that 70% of the workforce will be working from home for at least five out of the seven days in a week, by the year 2025.
And why wouldn’t it? According to Forbes, A California based survey stated that worker productivity has increased by 47%. It means that people like working from home, they feel more productive and they find the flexible work timings to be liberating. So now that we have established that work from home is here to stay, let’s see the Top 5 Remote working trends of 2021.
Less conference calls
A common theme now is to hop into a zoom meeting every now and then. It feels productive, you get to see familiar faces and companies loved it because it portrayed a more comprehensive use of time where everyone was in a simulated working team. However, the harsh reality remains that most zoom calls are unnecessary, they have more people than they need and the phrase, “this could have been an email” resonates stronger every year. This has led to the emergence of digital collaboration tools that have totally revolutionized remote working for teams.
According to Forbes, companies are now spending 20% of their conference call budget on collaborative tools. With an intricate array of tools and features that help one schedule and assign tasks, communicate via chat and reduce the buffer time to get work done, effective collaboration is now becoming more and more popular.
Cyber security is something that is becoming a global concern in modern times. With data being the new oil, one’s personal preferences, choices and chats are vulnerable to attacks by third parties and malicious hackers. This means that most companies are spending more on software security for their employee and client data given the confidential nature of the same.
As most communication in remote settings is through chat or call, the information exchanged or the files sent via email become prone to interception and this is a risk that companies are mitigating in 2021. If the work from home culture is to boom, the security for information sharing must be top notch. That is why most productivity and planner apps nowadays have encryption features to prevent third parties from gaining access to their conversations.
Retention through restraining and reskilling
No employer likes a high turnover. It costs more to find new recruits and to train them for the job. In such uncertain times, it is much better to have a familiar person who understands the company’s vision and more importantly, knows their work. This helps as it takes less effort to reproduce that work in a different setting than to completely adapt to a new person. It is much easier to retain current employees and retrain them in the specific skill needed.
This means that companies will provide more incentives such as health insurance and possibly higher salaries. It is no surprise that employers found letting existing employees find a work life balance during Covid 19 rather than laying people off and recruiting new people. It will not be easy to reskill either. The new skills required now are Artificial Intelligence, UX designing and cloud computing.
Better autonomy and flexible timings
Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have started becoming more flexible with their work. Being at home meant juggling multiple roles together, including important duties such as taking care of their infants all the while meeting deadlines and attending meetings. And the year 2020 has proved that this is possible. Employees can tackle both duties and come out victorious.
This has caused a shift from flexibility in location to a flexibility in time too. Employees who produce results within the stipulated time are given more autonomy over their work. Be it 3 am or 3 pm, they get the work done and at the end of the day that’s what matters the most.
Mental Health will take a center stage
There is no denying it. Mental health of the employees has become one of the most important aspects that an organisation needs to consider in 2021. The past year has been draining, some even losing their close ones to the virus. That, added with the mounting pressure to be more productive and reach targets with a sense of uncertainty has taken a lot of toll on the employees. As much as remote work is comfortable, sometimes it means that people expect more work as they are, “at home”. This in turns mounts the pressure, adding on to their already mounting personal problems and the struggle with work life balance.
Thus, it becomes highly important for organizations to prioritise the mental health of their employees over everything as it affects their performance and their overall well being. Keeping themselves active through a pair of simple exercises with light weights and resistance bands can help de-stress their mind and other activities such as yoga can help them relieve their stress. Team building exercises after meetings or just weekly meetups to talk also help ease the pressure on the employees.