What the Future of Remote Work Means for You
Remote work is changing. New opportunities to become location independent arise every day as technology advances. But what does that mean for you?
There was a time when telecommuting was relegated to salespeople who were able to work from the phone or computer while they were on the road meeting with clients. Ah the business trip. It wasn’t always a glamorous situation or working environment. Said salesperson could make use of their telephone and computer, working from hotel rooms across the world as they hustled to get through their to-do list, even when their schedule was packed with client dinners and pitches. At the end of the trip, they were expected to return to the corporate office and get back to the typical 9-5 grind.
Telecommuting wasn’t considered a reward or a way to improve employee happiness; it was allowed for plain efficiency and productivity as travel was a part of their job description.
It shouldn’t surprise you that, much like the rest of our society’s long-held conventions, this concept of telecommuting is outdated. In fact, most people don’t even call it telecommuting anymore.
Familiarize yourself with the new term: remote work.
Here’s our definition: remote work is a working style that allows professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment.
It bares a resemblance to telecommuting, right? Though similar in premise, instead of believing that doing work outside of the office is a necessity for efficiency’s sake, remote work takes it one step further. It encourages corporations to change their perspective, and believe that allowing employees to work outside of a traditional environment is actually better for their business.
Whereas implementing a telecommuting structure was akin to a company dipping its toe in the water of flexibility, remote work is more like wading out into the ocean or, better yet, diving in headfirst.
Even the idea of “great work can be done from anywhere” doesn’t fully encapsulate the direction that remote work is headed. The truth is, the future of remote work, and its potential impact, is on a much grander scale.
Remote work is no longer a peripheral working style. It is the necessary next step for companies, employees and entrepreneurs who want to continue to capitalize on the productivity and efficiency that technological advances offer our society.
How is remote work changing?
Remote work is no longer an exclusive endeavor, as people from all walks of life take their newfound freedom and run with it. They’re living lives that they never thought were possible when they imagined themselves sitting at a desk from 9-5 every weekday for the rest of their lives. Technology, and the spread of high-speed Wi-Fi to nearly every corner of the globe, has made remote work a viable option for more people, in more ways, than ever before.
Here’s how remote work is changing:
More people are working remotely
When people first began to latch onto the idea of remote work, they were promised the kind of flexibility and freedom that would make them happier instantly. However, it didn’t turn out quite the way that they expected.
Because remote work was still a relatively new concept, there were still very few people who could live a flexible lifestyle. The first employees to venture into remote work could feel like they were on an island, working from their homes and, sometimes, not speaking to another human for an entire day. In those moments, it felt like the movement toward flexible work might not actually become widely accepted. At times, it felt just plain lonely.
Good news for all of you aspiring remote workers: it’s different now.
A study conducted by Zug found that 70% of professionals globally work remotely at least once a week - and they won’t be doing it alone. The future looks even brighter: a Zinc survey shows that IDC expects remote workers to account for 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2020.
People are working remotely in different ways
Not only are more people working remotely than ever before, they’re doing it in ways that we couldn’t have anticipated a few decades ago. It’s safe to say that we’ve evolved from the days of telecommuting being the only option for aspiring remote workers. Today, many professionals have the ability to work from wherever they feel most productive - even if that’s right at home.
Another one of those places is a coworking space. The advancement of communicative technology and the subsequent expansion of remote work across the world has inspired innovative companies to create easily-accessible coworking spaces where remote employees from a multitude of industries can work side-by-side.
Another route for remote workers is a combination of work and travel. With the option to work outside of their corporate office, some professionals use their newfound flexibility as an opportunity to see the world. Whether they choose to travel solo or join a work and travel program, they use their new surroundings as inspiration for their work. During their self-designated working hours, they seek out cafés and coworking spaces with great Wi-Fi where they can get down to business. When they’re not on the clock, they have a chance to explore the stunning world around them, immersing themselves in the local culture in a way that just isn’t possible during a one-week vacation.
Others are taking a more local approach. They’re committing to a hybrid form of remote work, where they’re able to to work from coworking spaces in their company’s town for part of the week, focusing on projects that require the deep focus that solitary work provides, then head into their company’s headquarters for work that requires face-to-face collaboration.
With the number of options available to today’s workers, it’s no wonder that many of them are leaving behind permanent desks at the office for a chance to find a bit more flexibility in their everyday life - and they’re not the only ones who are warming up to the idea.
Companies have altered their opinions on remote work
When remote work first hit the scene, companies weren’t so quick to jump on the bandwagon. They feared that their employees would slack off, become distracted by their home surroundings, become more difficult to communicate with, and even grow to become unhappy due to isolation.
The opinions of major corporations surrounding remote work are evolving, side-by-side with the advancement of technology.
Take companies like Trello, Doist, Meet Edgar and, yes, even Remote Year, who have all become fully-remote companies with employees working from time zones around the world. These companies believe in the many benefits of remote work - and their many successes are proof that a flexible working style can positively influence creativity and productivity.
Even more established companies like Wells Fargo, Humana, Dell and Intuit have started to list remote positions as a part of their job openings, and it’s largely because of the demand for remote work from top job applicants across the globe.
“More ... candidates require remote work as a condition of employment," said Liz Roney, business owner and executive coach of The Leadership Coaching Group in an interview with Business News Daily. "Taking the option off the table can prevent you from attracting key people. Making it worse, the top candidates you miss out on may be headed to your competitors who are offering a remote position.”
Once companies begin to embrace remote work, they start to see the benefits. Happy employees who work when they are productive and pursue their passions in their downtime can actually increase an employer’s bottom line. Companies are noticing an uptick in their employees’ productivity when they allow them to become location independent, no matter the industry.
More industries have jobs that can be done remotely
Right now you may be thinking, “All of this sounds great, but it would never work for me.” You may be thinking about the industry that you’re in, positive that you couldn’t work remotely in the same ways that tech professionals and entrepreneurs can. You’re sure that remote work is out of reach for you, even with its growing popularity.
Remote work is becoming more common in industries that already embrace technology to its fullest, but, with persistence, professionals from more and more fields are finding ways to successfully become location independent. They are creatively shifting their responsibilities in order to be able to work outside of the office, at times even creating new positions for themselves within their corporation. Whether they’re motivated by the potential of spending more time with their friends and family, or by the idea of living their life on their terms, remote workers in every industry are pushing for more flexibility.
What does this mean for me?
To put it lightly, the evolution of remote work means everything for you.
It means that it is more possible than ever before to take back control of your life, and de-commit yourself from the idea that you need to be stationary to be successful.
You’ve known for awhile now that there’s more to life than working your way up the corporate ladder. You’ve had an urge to break out of the monotony of society’s version of a “good life” and act on your wildest dreams. Well, we’re telling you that in today’s world, you can have your cake and eat it too.