Now that the dust is starting to settle from 2020, companies are asking themselves, What is the future of remote work? What is the future of working from home? And where does the office fit into the equation? Does it make sense for workers to be in the office full time, if at all?
Before the tech boom took the 2010s by storm, remote work had a bad reputation. In the days of dial-up, remote work was associated with poorly paid telemarketing and customer service jobs.
In the daily of dial-up, remote work was inconvenient. The first remote software engineers, for instance, would login to their computer, download key files, and work offline most of the day, which wasn’t the most effective way to communicate, especially if something urgent popped up.
In the years leading up to the pandemic, tech companies began building productivity tools that made instantaneous communication possible, not only across the country, but around the world. Skype, GSuite, Slack, and Zoom made it possible for people in different countries to communicate without paying astronomical fees for international phone calls. Further improvements in the work-from-home tech stack made managing projects while distributed a breeze.
All of this begs the question, What is the future of remote work?
Here are our top 11 predictions for the future of remote work and working from home.
Before the rise of remote work, recruiting employees usually meant requiring them to live near HQ or a branch office. To retain the best talent, companies started offering relocation services, which increased the cost of each employee.
For employees in foreign countries, the situation was more challenging. Candidates looking to work in the US needed to apply for an H-1B visa and get sponsored by a company, which would cost both employees and employers thousands of dollars in legal fees.
As companies look forward, remote work will be the better, and cheaper, option.
When the workforce was required to be in the office from 9am-5pm, they faced challenges like navigating childcare, being unable to take their puppy for a walk, and not having enough time to run errands.
In the post-pandemic world, employees will want more flexibility. These days, jobseekers don’t want to be micromanaged in an office setting, with their manager constantly watching them.
Digital innovators need more flexibility, especially if they’re disrupting industries through advancements in areas like online education and telemedicine. On the other hand, employers need to be careful not to burn employees out, especially when workers are constantly available online.
With great flexibility comes great responsibility. For managers that are used to office settings, learning how to trust remote workers can be challenging. Without constant check-in’s, how can you be sure your team is accomplishing what they need to?
The good news is that some studies actually suggest that remote workers are more productive than their in-person colleagues.
On the flip side, employees and employers will need to come up with strategies to avoid burnout, especially given how many workers left their remote jobs during the so-called Great Resignation.
In the US today, about 10% of employees are fully remote, with 30% participating in some hybrid model. In ten years, some experts predict that those numbers will rise, to 30% and 60-65% respectively.
Despite all of the benefits of remote work, in-person connections are still highly valuable.
As humans, we need them.
Many employees benefit from working remotely, but still prefer having some in-person interaction, like coming into the office a few days a week.
As companies go global and embrace remote work, they will need to start localizing pay and benefits not just for employees in the same city or even country, but across the globe. This means building out a local HR function and opening an entity in the new country, or partnering with an EOR service like Via that offers on-the-ground support.
Benefits, salary expectations, and government requirements vary by country, and companies looking to recruit top talent need to keep all of this in mind as they create compensation plans.
The biggest challenge with hybrid models is proximity bias, or the unconscious preference for people who are near you physically.
For HR, managers, executives, and other people in leadership positions, finding innovative solutions to proximity bias will become a hot topic as businesses ensure that remote employees can continue building their careers from home. For workers, learning how to highlight their accomplishments (perhaps through putting together a portfolio) will become even more crucial.
To build trust and accountability, companies will need to set clear performance expectations and metrics. They should be measuring not days in office but actual results.
Distributed companies are already finding solutions to the remote-hybrid divide, and future companies will surely follow suit. Certain tasks are simply nicer in the office. Replicating an in-person brainstorming or whiteboard session online is no easy task.
The difference is that businesses will be more strategic about the time they spend together IRL.
For companies that are distributed across the country (or even the world), having quarterly or annual meet-ups (sometimes known as off-sites) will become more important. This will give teams the chance to work together, which can help boost morale and drive productivity.
As companies begin to expand abroad, they will focus less on opening robust offices and branches, and more on creating employment hubs, where workers in the same region have the opportunity to meet up at co-working spaces or in much smaller offices.
In the past, offshoring (American companies hiring foreign workers to cut down on labor costs) developed a mixed reputation.
In today’s world of global work, however, a new form of international work is taking shape. A tight labor market in the United States, paired with a difficult immigration process, has made hiring remote tech workers abroad a feasible solution.
Now, international workers with top credentials in countries like Mexico, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, and elsewhere are being employed by top companies in the US and Europe. Unlike in the past, these workers are being fully integrated into companies, teams, and job functions, thanks to the help of innovative approaches to payroll, including Via’s employer-of-record (EOR) solution.
When I lived in San Francisco (2016-2019), tech companies couldn’t seem to hire fast enough. Downtown was bustling with software engineering interns, new grads working in marketing, and freshly minted MBA students taking on strategy roles. New lunch spots and happy hours were popping up everywhere. The Salesforce Tower, San Francisco’s tallest building, was completed in 2018.
When the pandemic hit, downtown San Francisco emptied as employees started working from home. Many tech companies and startups pivoted to fully remote policies, meaning that workers no longer needed to live near the city, or even in the state.
As the threat of a recession looms large for businesses, many companies are adapting to the new economic reality by eliminating or reducing real estate costs and embracing remote work.
San Francisco is just one case study. In the next few years, expect to see companies–especially growing startups–signing fewer leases and investing more in co-working spaces.
The bottom line?
Workers don’t want to spend 5 days a week commuting to work, especially if they can accomplish most of their work from home.
Many businesses want to hire and attract international talent, but are unsure of how to build a hub in a new country. Via makes hiring international talent seamless. With our-easy-to-use platform, Via manages the local HR processes for global employment such as work visas and permits, benefits, payroll, background checks, and more. Our team of local labor lawyers and on-the-ground experts ensure that your company remains compliant while expanding abroad. As your employer-or-record/entity, Via assumes responsibility for employment liability, so that you can focus on what matters: recruiting and managing your team.
With Via’s transparent pricing, you can pay full-time employees or contractors across borders with no hidden set-up fees, no foreign exchange or transaction fees, and no minimums–start with 1 employee and scale up at your own pace. You can get started in 1-2 business days. That’s why a lot of businesses partner with an EOR service like Via. We expedite the process of hiring and recruiting, setting up HR, and adhering to all employment laws in other countries.