Do you ever wonder why we work the way we do? Where did the benefit of being able to work remotely come from? In response to the changes in society, so has the working environment, and right now we are seeing some changes that, a while back, were still just trends. Let’s explore what the future holds for us and how these predictions will shape society going forward.
We will go through two perspectives of looking at the working space. In this article, we will discuss the practical aspects of remote work and then look at some predictions from a human behavior standpoint.
Top 5 Practical Aspects
1. Establishing Guidelines for Effective Virtual Meetings
It is said that socializing makes people feel like part of something. In most cases, we feel refreshed and even more energetic after exchanging thoughts and ideas with people around us. Whether it’s work, social gatherings, or family reunions. How is it, then, that, since the pandemic has made progress in our lives, more and more remote employees are finding online communication draining?
Consider the term “Zoom fatigue” to illustrate this point. The term ‘digital fatigue’ is used to describe the fatigue associated with the overuse of virtual communication channels. Remote teams do, indeed, benefit from such channels for closely collaborating. Yet how well does this method of communication work? Is it fair for those who feel stressed and need to take a day-long break from meetings every week to get their minds back on track? Not so much.
Herein lies the need for setting guidelines. Online communication for remote workers may soon become more balanced through virtual meetings, collaboration documents, emails, and online forums. Virtual meetings can become shorter and fewer but more valuable.
Here is another way to look at all the time spent in Zoom meetings – creating experts in this field. Getting fluent in “online communication” will soon be seen as a valuable skill (yes, this is for you, remote workers). If you checked that box, you should already be qualified to discuss promotions, leadership opportunities, and your success as an employee with your manager.
2. Defining the Boundaries Between Professional and Personal Time
We’ve heard this one before, haven’t we? Perhaps you say. Many telecommuters face this challenge, and it’s a contributing factor to burnout.
Extra hours are highly valuable for most companies, but not so much for employees’ wellbeing. In the future, policies that can flatten the burnout percentage will be crucial to creating better work environments and work cultures.
As part of the settlement, the focus will also shift to wellbeing.
Several employers are offering employer-sponsored mental health solutions and productivity tools that enable remote collaboration. It would be extremely beneficial if these tools, as well as social platforms, allowed remote employees to have social interactions outside of work.
Employees who are unable to take full advantage of remote work will most likely adhere to “the great resignation”. This is another term that’s becoming more common in the context of burnout due to the unhealthy work-life balance.
3. Cloud Communication Tools are Growing in Popularity
The best time to foster discussion, bonding, and collaboration should be during this period. Trust and confidence are crucial for remote workers, and feeling like part of something bigger than themselves can have a great impact on their work as well as their personal lives.
What better way to communicate with customers than through cloud communication tools? Although we have mentioned that online meetings will lessen, it doesn’t mean they will disappear since they remain a part of remote work best practices. The use of web conferencing tools or cloud-based business phone systems will become more prevalent in 2022.
With the rise of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, we will hear more about Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), which will shape remote work arrangements. These initiatives are built around UCaaS, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23 % until 2024.
4. Data-Driven Decision-Making with Artificial Intelligence
Many industries have benefited from this technology by predicting market trends, automating repetitive tasks, as well as monitoring work developments in real-time. And as we’re looking at 2022, the power of AI will grow exponentially.
More than delivering just crunch numbers and forecast sales, we’re seeing more people consume AI services without knowing it. And as remote workers, we’ll get the advantage from AI’s use within some organizations that may use in-house AI engines to help get the job done more effectively.
Some other great news is that as remote workers, the chances to receive AI-powered coaching at a new job are increasing substantially. This way, getting equipped with the required knowledge we need for work may become easier for most of us.
5. With Remote Work, Cybersecurity is Going to Be Much More Important
Let’s admit it. We have all been there – thinking many times whether we’ve accidentally made a mistake that might have put the entire system at risk (or even parts of it). In case you haven’t done that as often, it is time to work more towards that.
The increase of these technologies (cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things, etc.) that help remote workers like us and companies to deliver better value, faster, brings together a bigger risk. That of a cyberattack. In the past few years, there has been a significant increase in cyberattacks, and predictions are that this “trend” will not slow down too soon.
What should we expect to see more of in the next year? For sure, as remote workers, we will have to strengthen our digital skills and pay attention to much more details (such as phishing attempts or other cyber threats). But to ensure that the information we are working on is not compromised, technologies such as machine learning will become a great asset in assisting security in this sector. This technique is called predictive security and will be such an instrumental part of remote work cybersecurity.
5 Behavioral Aspects
1. Addressing Biases
Were you aware of the fact that nearly three-quarters of UK workers are concerned about the effects of “proximity bias”? This comes from the situation where employees who work in an office are more valued than those who work remotely. For sure some of you have experienced or at least thought about this at least once since working remotely.
It’s already a common thing to see many employers have location bias, as well as biases related to gender, orientation, or ethnicity. Most of the time, they result in salary discounts.
When it comes to remote working, there have been many cases where inequality has been visibly felt by either women or people with different orientations. But as society is becoming more open to how we’re evolving as social beings, companies will also become more aware that such biases will lead to missing out on the skills and perspectives of talented people.
Nonetheless, in the future years, we should expect to see more inclusiveness when it comes to these biases. Companies have visibly started to make some steps towards accomplishing this goal, and it will get more vigorous as we’re entering 2022.
2. Turning Flexibility into Normality
As remote workers, flexibility is part of our lifestyle. But we are not talking only about place flexibility here. Having the possibility to work in our most productive time it’s becoming a valuable trait. And more companies are starting to offer this possibility as they understand that an employee can be more productive and efficient when working in his rhythm.
From hiring and onboarding to corporate policies and communication strategies, flexible work will dictate how an organization deals with the delivery of its services. Leaders need to look at what flexibility can offer them and exploit these advantages wherever they can. They also need to be conversant with the most effective remote team management guide to help their teams along. For those working as freelancers, it is recommended to introduce these patterns into their working methods.
More than that, we will witness a better understanding from companies that prioritizing personal life is valuable to more and more people. In the future, we are expecting to see companies introduce policies like core collaboration hours. This will take the form of reserved time for live meetings in particular. Leaving traditional hours behind is how we are entering 2022, and we are here to embrace this pattern of nonlinear days.
Overall, we are waiting for the 8 hours/ day pattern to take another form, hopefully, a better one, both for us as remote workers, just as for the companies we’re working for.
3. Magnifying Expertise in One Field
If you’ve been working in the corporate environment for a while, most probably you are familiar with doing more than you are supposed to. Or find yourself in the position of forgetting what your job is because you’ve been doing so many activities related to the one you got hired for.
In contrast to this, you might have experienced a different world as a remote worker. In a world where being specialized on a particular thing and doing that as good as you can is the best way to become more valuable and even to have better income from it. This is where we are heading also. Towards a working environment where being proficient in a specific field tops generalists.
For sure, it is just as valuable if you are used to doing more things and have skills in different areas. But as the future predictions show, refining exactly those skills that you feel most attracted to will ease your work, and will most probably bring you better opportunities, and make you highly valuable for your employer.
4. Gen Zers will Lead the Remote Workspace
First of all, let’s make this clear. Businesses are those who understand that they need to pay attention to how the younger generation is getting on if they want to have a positive image for their employer branding, but also their impact on society. As a digital-native talent pool, it is obvious why we are looking at them as the leaders of the workforce. And why remote work conditions will be highly influenced by their response and preferences for this alternative working model.
How does this impact the rest of us, outside Gen Z?
If we look at how companies react to the working conditions, we will notice that most companies comply with their expectations. And it makes sense that change will impact all of us. As Gen Z is looking for more flexibility, having the possibility to acquire more new skills at their job or to express themselves for bringing positive impact on society, the rest of us will have to figure a way of embracing these traits and becoming a part of these priorities.
We should not see it as competition, but rather to find ways of better understanding the behavior of gen Zers and see how we can collaborate and enhance their expectations to create the need for better working environments.
5. Is Remote Working the Great Plan for the Big Retirement?
Quality of life and life expectancy has massively increased in the past few years. Even more visible during the pandemic, when many people started to have a different perspective upon their way of living. While many people are looking to shift towards different ways of working, those who are about to retire will find that the answer to a better living as retirees is remote work.
Acting as consultants and coaches or mentors to those who are still employed is a new way of looking at our living patterns.
Hitting a simple Google search will give you so many options for remote work dedicated to seniors. This is great news for those of you looking to retire soon, but also for those looking to collaborate remotely with experienced people. Building connections and creating valuable collaborations in the remote model can become a sustainable model, starting right now and continuing in 2022 and beyond.
Just letting yourself be open to networking is a great way to overcome the pandemic and turn it into the good living pattern many of us have been striving for such a long time.
The digital revolution is flourishing. It began in the second half of the twentieth century when mechanical innovation began moving towards advanced gadgets. The world turns into a worldwide town — we can interface with anybody, whenever and anyplace. Doesn’t it appear to be legitimized and just normal to accept this change at fill-in also?