“In 10 Years, Remote Work Will Simply Be Work”.
As someone who has studied remote work extensively, even before the pandemic took place, his findings show that a hybrid work environment results not in a more productive workflow but also reduces attrition. The biggest assumption that is usually made about remote work is that employees are for it and employers are against it. The reality is that it is a gain for both companies and job seekers. While job seekers can apply to jobs anywhere in the world, companies too get their hands on a much larger talent pool. There’s no restriction in terms of geographic boundaries or distance from physical offices. Men and women do not need to worry about how long the commute is going to be.
There are also some indirect results that benefit the workforce as a whole. An example of this is that remote work has resulted in more women applying for jobs. These are potential employees who might have been held back due to factors they have no control over such as distance from workplaces, lack of jobs in the locations they reside in, and unavailability of childcare facilities like a creche. In countries like India where just 23% of all women who could work are employed, remote work can change the dynamics and create a much more just job ecosystem. As per this article by the Print, female participation in the Indian workforce could add to the GDP of India by more than $400 billion.
Remote Work has an Enabler– technology
There’s a reason why remote work today is much more palatable than say 10 or 20 years ago. It’s more than just the mindset that has changed. Technology plays the leading role in this. Major factors include–
- Faster internet speeds usually run into 100s of MBs.
- Software solutions like Zoom and Google meet allow groups of tens or even hundreds to come together in a single room.
- The ability to create a virtual workspace where everything that you had in a physical workspace is available.
- Much faster and a variety of machines such as faster laptops and devices like iPads where one can draw out diagrams.
Virtual tools have allowed users to create spaces that were unimaginable earlier. Companies are using these to promote more engagement and inter-team communications-
- Random groups of people are thrown together in a discussion from time to time. This enables conversations and learning that couldn’t have been imagined before. Tech is talking to marketing, VPs are talking to interns, and everyone is getting an idea of the bigger picture.
- Whiteboard-ing or planning in groups has become easier thanks to the use of multiple software solutions which help employees come together virtually. These tools allow users to draw out diagrams, flowcharts, and more so that they can replicate the essence of a meeting room.
Communication is the key to a successful remote setup and this has been widely acknowledged by industry stalwarts. Online communication can’t fill up for offline meetings completely which is why many companies are also setting up yearly meetings at resorts so that people can meet the people they interact with every day, in person. This eases the gaps and creates a more comfortable working experience.
Not all Sectors will go Remote
Only highly specialized jobs in specific sectors will be fully remote. Even those may require employees to come in 2-3 times a week. Fully remote jobs will be rare whereas a hybrid setting may be seen in most companies offering remote jobs. While not all jobs can be remote, some jobs are seen to be less effective when remote. The best example of this would be teaching. While teachers had to move to a remote setup as the pandemic set in, education in a remote setup wasn’t at par and led to weaker kids getting the shorter end of the stick.
This is evident when you look at the EdTech sector. As the pandemic reached countries like India which has one of the largest populations in the ages of 12-22, huge growth in the EdTech sector followed. The growth wasn’t sustainable though, and these companies are now laying off thousands of employees in a bid to remain afloat and move to a more hybrid model where they can also offer physical coaching to those who want it.
Others like hospitality, medical industry, manufacturing, travel, and transport are unlikely to have any remote jobs other than sales, marketing or customer service. Any industry where individuals need to use large machines is likely to have no remote opportunities either. In simple words, only those who can work on a laptop and do not need to talk to clients or customers in person can move to a remote work setup.
Many Companies are Betting for Remote Jobs
There are many companies that are offering remote jobs today. While not all their positions may be remote, work that can be performed remotely is promoted as remote positions in these firms–
- Zoom Video Communications
- Dell Technologies
- United Health Group
- Kelly Services
- Hilton Hotel and Resorts
- Home Shopping Network
As per a study by Owl Labs, globally almost 16% of the companies are offering fully remote positions. However 62% of all workers between the ages of 22 to 65 work from home at least occasionally. The future of work may not be completely remote but it should be partially at least. This would help create a more inclusive workforce such that those who have the best skills get a job irrespective of any other factor.