There’s little question that remote working has become an increasingly popular concept in recent years. A quick walk through any busy area will reveal a number of people intensely working on laptops while talking into headphones. And they’re just the people you can see. In fact, 43% of the workforce now spends at least some of their working week working from their home.
Despite this, working from home can be a contentious and divisive issue. While some workers enjoy the flexibility it provides, others feel that they’re disconnected and that it can negatively impact communications and productivity. It seems likely that opinion will always be somewhat divided as to whether remote working is a truly good idea or not, with many major organisations and HR experts seemingly split on the impact that it can have on their business.
There are some obvious benefits, such as a decrease in overhead and office waste, lower carbon emissions because fewer people commute, and lower sickness rates because sick people don’t spread germs in crowded places. It’s also been shown to have a significant impact on stress levels because people don’t have to manage the commute and can arrange their work around their home life more effectively.
Yet some firms report a dip in employee engagement and interaction and something of an erosion of company culture. Getting it right is a balancing act.
Whatever your firm’s enthusiasm level for remote working, it’s highly likely that you’ll accommodate the concept to one degree or another. So it pays to acquaint yourself with the upcoming trends and innovations in the field.
Here’s our list of five developing trends related to remote working…
Remote workers will work in the office more
Sounds odd, doesn’t it? What’s the point in having staff work from home if they’re going to work from the office? Well, there are actually lots of good reasons why remote workers should increase their time spent at HQ or a satellite office.
The main reason goes back to our previous point. Engagement. Building relationships with colleagues and a feeling of togetherness and camaraderie is vital to many workers. Equally important, if not more so, is staff wellbeing. 21% of remote workers surveyed recently reported that loneliness was an issue and had the potential to impact their long-term mental health. Coming into the office for a day or two and reacquainting yourself with colleagues and company culture is clearly an important element of work life.
Home office IT setups will become more secure
With a workforce all under one roof, IT security provision is relatively straightforward. Having everyone on the same in-house system is manageable. Split staff up across the country and it can all get a little complex. Logging into company intranets and systems on unsecured devices and other office technology presents a not insignificant security risk too.
An increase in remote working will force IT security to improve processes and increase robustness with regards to logins from home. Data breaches and cyber-attacks are an escalating issue, so expect to see businesses taking remote workers’ security protocols a lot more seriously.
Expect to see remote working become more formalised
Many organisations have been, to this point, only too pleased to trial employees working from outside of the office. Many employees do so on rather a low-key and informal basis though, with oral agreements in place covering expectations and specific arrangements.
Don’t be surprised to see this change.
As more and more companies see the value in offering remote working opportunities, they understand that specific and tangible processes, rules and policies will need to become established in order to make working from home or a co-working space more resilient.
It could affect the flexibility of any remote working agreement, but it’s also likely to encourage more aligned thinking. These kinds of agreements work best when both sides are on the same page.
There will be a rise in casual co-working spaces
Remote working doesn’t always mean working from home. Latest figures suggest that 78% of those not going into the office do their day’s work in their abode, which is significant but expect it to change. Co-working spaces, private offices and cafes are increasingly popular for the remote worker.
Don’t be shocked to find all sorts of other businesses starting to cater to those that ‘work from home’. Hotels, hostels, coffee shops, bars, pubs, restaurants, you name it. Remote working is building a new demographic that smart entrepreneurs are going to take advantage of.
A further plus side to this? There’s a good chance that it leads to improved Wi-Fi for all.
There could be a knock-on effect on smaller towns and cities
The best jobs are in big cities. If you want to earn the big bucks, you have to head for a metropolis. In the UK, you’re probably looking at London. With talent moving out of the country’s other towns and cities, so too does a lot of money. Remote working could change that.
Working remotely allows a workforce to stay in their hometown or set up life in a new town that’s more affordable than the capital. They can buy a property and invest in the local economy. This could very well see a financial, social and cultural boost to many regional towns and villages.
There’s no getting around the fact that remote working is increasing in popularity exponentially. By 2020, half the British workforce is expected to work from home for at least one day a week. By making sure your company has a clear policy on remote working and what employees should expect, you can find the right balance that helps productivity and happiness, while reducing overheads and helping the environment.