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12 October 2021

8 Remote Work Trends to Watch in 2021

Jairek Robbins

As the final quarter of 2021 rolls on, now is a good time to reflect on how working from home has become a more prominent feature of our lives than ever before. With 97% of employees indicating that they don’t want to go back to the office, working from home is certainly not another fad! Below are some remote work trends that you need to keep an eye on regardless of whether you are an employer or an employee.

A huge majority of remote jobs originate in the US

Research shows that 70% of all job listings for remote work originate in the U.S. This statistic isn’t surprising given the size of the U.S. economy and the geographical vastness of the country.

Additionally, the U.S. offers lots of opportunities for people to cross from one industry to another, and this increases the possibility of securing a remote job. As an employer, you need to realize that it will be a lot harder to retain employees unless you undertake deliberate steps to make those you have loyal to your firm.

Cybersecurity is becoming a bigger concern

As 2021 is nearing its end, a lot more companies and employers are becoming concerned about cybersecurity. Given that more employees are working from home using their own devices, this concern is understandable.

We are therefore more likely to see greater investment in training remote employees about cybersecurity. Companies are also likely to invest in setting up secure communication systems and work networks, as well as acquiring technology to protect work networks from cyber-attacks. 

As an employee or employer, you need to play an active role in your cybersecurity. For example, using a VPN and installing firewalls can offer a measure of security while you maintain your nomadic work life or engage in remote work.

Employees are thrilled to work from home

Statistics show that 83% of employees admit that they are happier working from home. This isn’t surprising, given that work stress and the hassles of commuting to work every day are no more. When people work from home or remotely, they are in an environment they have chosen and have control over, so it follows that they will be happier.

If you own a company, this is an important trend for you to watch and leverage. It would be counterproductive for you to insist that your employees work from the company premises/offices yet they would be happier working remotely. Employee retention can get a whole lot harder for you!

For employees, this trend means that you may need to communicate with your employers and negotiate some form of remote work so you can also enjoy the benefits of working remotely, at least some of the time.

Shared home offices are becoming a norm

In the past, a home office was normally used by just one person, but the pandemic changed all that when work moved online for most industries. As a result, several family members have had to learn how to adjust to working with one another in such close quarters.

For example, if your significant other is on a Zoom meeting, you need to be careful where you pass or what you do so that you don’t become a distraction during the meeting. Relationships may also be strained when partners live and work with each other most of the time, so special effort needs to be invested in growing the relationship during this time created by remote work. 

Retraining and upskilling are on an upward trend

The changing workplace now means that many employees are ill-equipped for the jobs of the future. Companies are therefore forced to support their employees to acquire the new skills that they need in order to fit into the new norm going forward.

Cross-training and retraining are therefore becoming commonplace, and some employees are taking it upon themselves to pay for online courses in the skills they feel they need yet employers don’t offer such training.

As an employer, it is imperative that you analyze the skill gaps in your workforce during this transition to remote work. See how you can support your employees to acquire those skills, and you will reap the benefits of improved employee loyalty, higher productivity and greater savings as most of your workforce goes remote.

Remote work effects on stock performance

According to data compiled by MIT Sloan, sectors that are friendlier to remote work saw an uptick in their stock market performance in comparison to sectors or industries which can’t easily accommodate telecommuting or remote work.

Their data shows that sectors like technology and financial services registered a 7% gain on stock markets while hospitality and aviation registered up to 65% slumps in stock performance during the pandemic.

Going forward, industries that are more accommodative of remote work will recover and thrive while those that aren’t remote work-friendly may continue declining beyond 2021.

Productivity tracking tech is on the increase

As work from home firmly establishes itself as a norm, companies are having to reinvent the way in which they keep track of what their employees are doing at home or wherever they may be. The tools coming to their aid include time tracking apps, software to monitor the levels of computer activity, and so on.

As a business owner or employee, you need to update your knowledge of these tools and use them to ensure that productivity remains high.

Organizational culture is pivoting to more human-orientation

In the past, the culture of many organizations rotated around optimizing performance. With the shift to remote work brought by the pandemic, this focus is now changing. Firms are now paying a lot more attention to ensuring employee safety and resilience in the midst of this chaos.

Companies are devoting a lot more time and resources to meeting the needs of their employees in terms of mental health support, medical benefits, and helping them financially. Managers have also had to become a lot better at listening as well as providing mentorship to their teams.

Many of the trends above are a direct result of the changes forced upon the world by the Covid-19 pandemic. Adaptability is the name of the game, and those who excel at it will emerge stronger while those who are slow at adapting will continue to struggle. Opportunities abound in this situation; will you take them?

To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

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