Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2019, businesses worldwide have been forced to review their workforce’s setup and adapt to stay-at-home orders and social distancing regulations.
One of the most noticeable shifts has been in the number of employees working remotely, and whilst many pandemic-induced changes will be temporary, data thus far suggest that remote work is here to stay.
Between 2009 and 2019, the proportion of employees in Europe working remotely remained relatively constant, and remote work was almost twice as likely to be occasional than permanent (9% versus 5.4%).
Then the pandemic hit, stay-at-home orders were issued, and the number of people meeting on Zoom every day shot up from 10 million (Dec. 2019) to 300 million (Apr. 2020).
Fast-forward to January 2022 and 16% of jobs on LinkedIn across EMEA and the U.S. (Figure 1) are listed as hybrid (4%) or fully remote (12%).
And it won’t stop there; jump to 2028 and it’s estimated that 73% of all teams worldwide will contain remote workers.
What are the key benefits?
Employees with a longer commute to the office are more likely to rate their remote-working experience as ‘positive’ compared to those that live closer to work.
Furthermore, employees in London, England who worked remotely in 2020 saved an average of £1000 a year by cutting out their commute!
Hello, work-life balance!
In the U.S., 83% of employees working remotely saw a significant improvement in their work-life balance.
In addition, a better work-life balance was the most common reason for choosing remote work.
Studies found that 77% of employees were more productive working remotely than they were in the office.
Plus, 75% felt that their increased productivity came from the lack of distraction from colleagues.
Greater access to talent.
For employers, particularly those filling a niche or senior-level vacancy, the number of potential candidates for remote roles increases dramatically when restraints are based on time-zone rather than exact location.
What are the key concerns?
Not being able to switch off.
When your home and your office become intertwined, it takes conscious effort to switch off after work.
In 2020, employees working remotely in the U.K. spent twice as many hours doing unpaid overtime in comparison to their office-based colleagues.
Studies have found that remote workers are less likely to be considered for promotions and bonuses compared to their office-based colleagues.
Whilst this could be coincidental, it is likely that managers have a bias (consciously or unconsciously) towards rewarding employees that are regularly present in the office.
Feeling detached from your team.
In 2020, loneliness was highlighted as the biggest struggle faced by employees working remotely.
As Zoom meetings continue to substitute social interaction, remote workers may experience greater mental health concerns than their office-based colleagues as a result of isolation.
Although remote work has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages, a whopping 97% of employees working remotely would recommend it to a friend.
Whilst many businesses are set to re-open their offices in 2022, the overwhelming majority plan to implement hybrid working patterns for employees, even post-pandemic, suggesting that remote work is here to stay.
So, what can you do to make life easier when working remotely?
Make sure that you have clear working hours, and that you stick to them! Also, set up a dedicated workspace and visit a co-working space from time to time.
Step away from work.
Take a walk during your lunch break to get some fresh air, have regular coffee breaks, and give your eyes a break from the screen!
Be honest and transparent with your employer about how you’re finding remote work. Schedule regular check-ins with your line manager, and plan virtual coffee breaks with colleagues to stay connected.
All workplaces should prioritise diversity and inclusion to attract top talent. This can be achieved by ensuring diversity at board-level, creating inclusive work environments for employee satisfaction.