Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many employees were forced to work from home. However, it allowed companies to see the benefits of having flexible workplace policies. Similarly, employees are enjoying work from home trends and benefits that improve their productivity. You probably want to consider working remotely permanently.
Whether you want to embrace telecommuting full time or work in a hybrid schedule, you will be affected by the future trends in working remotely.
In this article, we will explore predictions that will significantly affect the telecommuting industry. This way, it’s easier for you to keep up with the changes from innovative remote work tools as well as shifts in workplace culture. That said, below are the work from home trends and predictions that you should expect in 2020.
In the last two years, about 35.7 million workers have started working remotely. That’s about 24.8% of total workers in the United States. Now, because of the coronavirus outbreak, many companies have asked some of their employees to work from home. This is especially true in the technology sector with popular companies, such as Airbnb, Twitter, Apple, and Google leading the charge.
Of course, in these extraordinary times, this is expected. But when normalcy was around, and when it returns, the increasing demand for work from home options seems to stem from two catalysts: (1) living cost in the metro with a high density of knowledgeable workers, and (2) technology has allowed for remote collaboration.
So, why go to the office to do things that you can otherwise accomplish at home? Is going to the office just to let your boss know that you are working? Wouldn’t he figure that out with your output? These are the common rhetorical questions that employees pushing for the work from home setups bring up. Today, workers demand flexibility. They want a great work-life balance. And, it is commonly believed that when you have a good work-life balance, you become more productive at work. This is, at least, the selling point for remote work arrangements.
Source: OWLLabs, 2019
However, for companies, it is quite hard to manage remote work operations. There are a lot of things to set up. New protocols need to be established. And, adopting digital tools is not easy work. Some technical training is required, along with a shift in culture. In fact, 69% of remote managers are concerned that productivity will be reduced even though they have been trained for remote work supervision. This is just one of the many worries.
Today, many companies and even government agencies around the world struggle to make telecommuting work well. But, as the recent coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic, many have turned to work from home setups to keep the wheels spinning.
For employees, the work from home arrangement has many benefits. However, you can summarize these in one word: savings. For employees, they can save time not commuting, save on their gas money or Uber fares, save on clothes and laundry from not dressing up, and save money from not eating out, among others. Essentially, telecommuting professionals can just roll out of bed and get to work on their desks (or work in bed). For many, this is more convenient and, hence, less stressful.
These are outstanding financial incentives for work from home setups. However, there are other personal and wellness benefits of working remotely as well. One, employees can spend more time with their families at home. Two, they can start eating healthier by having more time to cook. And they will have more time to exercise. Watercooler breaks can turn into exercise sessions. Commuting time can turn into meal planning and cooking. They can even have more time for their pets (if they have them).
In one Linkedin survey, it was found that 82% of workers want to work from home at least once a week. Also, 57% want to work from home at least three days a week. This desire for remote work arrangements is more evident in the tech sector. Now that many businesses made at least some of their employees work from home makes us wonder whether this will be the new normal even after the pandemic. If we follow the trend, we believe that more workers will demand work from home arrangements in the future. Many feel that this is the tipping point towards the future of work.
Companies that encourage work from home can also save more money. So, it is understandable that some encouraged telecommuting even before the pandemic started. This is because there are obvious benefits.
Firstly, the depreciation costs of office equipment will decrease. Secondly, the use of office materials like paper, thumbtacks, pencils, and the like will also lessen. Put simply; overhead costs can go down. Thanks to the rise of digital tools and systems, many companies can afford to offer an employee remote job options for a few days in a month.
As mentioned, the operating cost of companies is the main reason for allowing for telecommuting. For instance, one Chinese travel agency with 16,000 employees had a small group of their contact center staff to work from home. They found that employees seem to work more and quit less. When employees were asked if they were happy with their jobs, they answered in the affirmative. Plus, the company saved more than a whopping $1,000 per employee. This is thanks to the company reducing its office space. However, many complained because of loneliness.
This is because work from home setups are not for everyone. Naturally, it isn’t really for field workers. But for knowledge workers in tech, finances, and even education, it can work. Of course, you should expect a few hiccups along the way. But, rising personal and company costs will likely help push the telecommuting culture to become popular even after the pandemic.
Coworking spaces were described as sleeping giants back then. Now, boosters and insiders say that it is finally awake. The rise of coworking spaces isn’t just something of scale but also in terms of variance. The rise of niche spaces became prominent. This includes the niche of women-only spaces and even luxury ones. The industry is even predicted by experts to have hospitality as a big buzzword for the coming years. It seems that the industry will be transcended by it.
Also, the industry is taking a step toward health and wellness. This doesn’t just cover physical health options like gym equipment but also policies and activities for your mental health. There are sharing and learning sessions for workers that are under the care of these establishments.
We believe, in line with the experts of this industry, that coworking spaces will see a more significant boom in the future. More real estate investments will be made, and more companies will be put up to cater to this need. Experts even believe that even if (or when) a recession hits, the coworking industry will continue to prosper. Also, the very next recession could push the industry to new heights.
Recently, because of the pandemic, Apple released its top apps for working and learning at home. These included apps for keeping in touch with your loved ones like Snapchat and Houseparty. It also includes apps for browsing news, home workouts, meditation, yoga, and even cooking ones. In this time of the pandemic, we are surely going to rely on apps to get us entertained. Most importantly, we are going to rely on some to comply with our work duties.
Communication apps such as Slack and Zoom have been downloaded by more and more people since the mass quarantine started. This also goes for many collaboration programs. Plus, more and more companies and government agencies have to switch to digital platforms to keep their activities going. For instance, Microsoft Office 365 is now being used more by government agencies.
Google Classroom and other LMS software providers have also accrued more users. This is a big part of our remote work trends 2020 so far. However, we think that this trend will continue even after the outbreak is contained (we are on the optimistic side here).
A big possibility is that when people kind of get used to using these apps and become productive while working from home, the usage will spill out when things get back to normal. Because why migrate out of them again? Why stop on-premise files and their cloud copies form syncing? When normal comes back, the options to work remotely and to keep working at home after work hours (for workaholics out there) will remain. And, given that employees will be used to remote productive work, work from home arrangements will likely see an increase too. As a result, we would bet that more remote work solutions will get more downloads as well. It’s a snowball effect.
In the industry, some have regular work who still get an additional job or project for extra pay. These jobs include both outcome-based ones and timed-ones. They range from taking surveys, watching videos, and many more. And, of course, some are not so respectable in some sense, especially the ones that are involved with internet advertising. However, legitimate projects like making PowerPoint presentations, copywriting, editing, video editing, and the likes abound on the net.
People get projects and actual jobs from marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr. Many people with regular non-remote work often opt to find extra gigs or another job from these marketplaces. There are even those who have multiple freelance jobs. And, many freelancers find multiple clients for extra pay.
In this economy, and with the power of technology, getting access to work from home jobs is quite apt and almost too easy. All you need is to go to freelancer marketplaces online, fill out a profile, spruce it up a bit, create a stunning portfolio, and off you go. Of course, competition is fierce. One long term trend you will notice in this industry is the ongoing price war between freelancers. This seems to negatively affect new freelancers. But, when you show you have great work and potential, you will be sought out by many clients.
Source: Census Bureau
Telecommuting is a startup generating activity. We mean this in two ways. First, these arrangements can help startups get cheaper professional labor and save on overhead costs. Secondly, many freelancers have eventually created their startups when their clients’ needs expand or when they get more clients.
In the first case, startup businesses always find it hard to find their desired capital and the right people for their jobs. Also, new business owners don’t have the slightest idea of HR-related laws and regulations. One way to hit all these three birds with one stone is to outsource employees from freelance marketplaces. In this way, they can save money as the rates will be cheaper than on-premise employees. Plus, there will be no overhead cost.
Furthermore, freelance markets like Fiverr and Upwork connect startups with high-value freelance professionals. So, it is highly likely that you can find the people that would match your requirements and maybe even exceed them. Moreover, new business owners can bypass the worries of employment laws and regulations. The online marketplace takes care of it all. So, we expect this trend to continue in the future.
Also, many freelance professionals with such arrangements find success in creating startups. For instance, freelancers, like video creators, have started full-blown outfits out of doing freelance work at the beginning. Another perfect startup type spouting out from freelancing gigs are contact centers. This trend is caused by the growth of business clients with the help of freelance professionals. As they grow, they also need more workforce and services from their outsourced employees. The usual next step is to have these freelancers pool in together a team to provide the same service at a larger scale.
Out of these comes the idea of just building your firm for freelancers. As they developed and realized their potential to provide greater value as a business owner with a company, they add to the number of businesses generated in the world.
In today’s world, consumer markets are online-heavy. So, companies want their brands to be more visible online. This includes their ads, logos, media, and, most importantly, content. As many digital marketers know, content is king. It has been, and it is likely going to stay for a very, very long while. Content is what people consume from news to videos. And, it is all online. Thus, content creators don’t have to go to any office to work. And, talented ones are the ones that brands need.
When we say content creators, we mean it in the broadest sense possible. These include video editors, graphic artists, writers, app creators, and even the ones that strategize for content. So, marketing professionals, including SEO specialists, coders, and user experience designers, are included too. Brands will need more and more people that have talents for these. And, as most of the work required for these jobs can be done remotely (and at home), we predict that there will be more content creators in the future.
Moreover, as content creators and digital marketing professionals know the ins-and-outs of improving online visibility and engagement. It is also likely that more of these workers will venture into business. And, as many are used to working from home, these businesses will then create more jobs. Also, a good majority of these jobs are likely going to be remote jobs as well.
Diversity and inclusivity have been hot topics among companies, especially in the IT sector, for years now. So much so that businesses that fail to catch up with the modern cultural shift have suffered significant damages in their reputation. For example, several public backlashes led Uber to commit to a three-year goal of diversifying its members.
Organizations have begun to take various recruitment initiatives in hiring people from different backgrounds. That includes opening their ranks to remote workers. Because they are no longer bound by geographical limitations, companies can now hire the best talents regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or political beliefs.
According to a Glassdoor study, employers worldwide are realizing the importance of diversity within their companies. As such, they are now investing in executives that will focus on developing and maintaining diversity and inclusivity. Consequently, remote workers are now considered great talent pools by D&I recruiters. A survey by IWG further supports the reports, which shows that around 69% of American businesses now offer flexible workplace policies. The changing attitude towards inclusivity is encouraging companies to explore modern ways of working, such as telecommuting.
Working remotely is not exclusive to Millenials and Gen Z, as Baby Boomers are reentering the workforce through telecommuting. Around 45% of Baby Boomers have no retirement savings at all, and only about 55% have some funds in their bank accounts. With the increasing living costs in many cities in the world, many are choosing to work again or stay in their companies instead of retiring. Even those with enough funds to retire are choosing to delay it.
Working from home offers retirees the flexibility that an in-office position may be unable to provide. They are now less interested in advancing their careers. But, they want to keep themselves active without the stress of commuting or dressing up for the office. So, many at this age group work part-time remotely.
Besides, Baby Boomers already know the basics of using most technologies, such as laptops, social media, and productivity software. They just need a quick training or online course to improve their tech skills.
This also allows companies to diversify their teams, especially in areas where experience is needed. Baby Boomers can be paired up with Gen Z workers to create a two-way mentorship relationship.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are currently taking over the entertainment and gaming industry. In the United States alone, the VR market is expected to earn about $4.3 million in 2020. Furthermore, experts are expecting significant growth within the next five years, with up to 9.3 million in revenue by 2025. Hologram technology is following the same trends as well.
It would be unsurprising to see immersive technologies such as AR, VR, and XR in remote work, especially in collaboration and communication applications. In the next few years, you may be able to pop into your immersive display and meet with your colleagues instead of using videoconferencing. Moreover, this technology can improve your overall workflow. It can replace monitors with new immersive displays where you can gather, create, manipulate, and analyze data in new and exciting ways.
Similarly, there are existing hologram applications already in the entertainment industry, the engineering field, and similar lines of work. That means it is possible to have holographic meetings soon. Remote workers can join their in-office counterparts beyond the confines of a monitor. This makes brainstorming and collaboration much easier and faster. While more studies are required to achieve complete holographic representations, you can expect various forms of such technology in different consumer devices in just a few years.
By staying at home, employees can save the environment in many ways. For example, telecommuters significantly reduce the energy spent on driving and commuting. Also, they reduce the following pollutants produced during traffic:
TelCoa reports that 74 million gallons of gas could be saved if 32 million Americans who could work from home do so at least once a week. This hybrid working set-up alone can prevent tons of carbon emissions, which can help curb the effects of climate change. The good news is the number of telecommuters is steadily increasing each year. In 2020, 4.7 million employees in the US are working from home full-time, which is a significant uptrend from 2015’s 3.9 million remote workers.
Furthermore, working in your home office significantly impacts your overall annual energy usage. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) considers telecommuting as a significant part of the climate change solution. Their research shows that about 9 to 14 billion kilowatt-hours of energy are saved each year when electronics are used to telecommute.
The rise of remote working is also highlighting various mental issues experienced by work from home employees. In 2019, Buffer reported that out of the thousands of telecommuters surveyed, about 49% said wellness is one of the biggest struggles when working out of the office.
A remote employee has a significantly different lifestyle than someone who goes to the office. While it is freeing to step away from the confines of the cubicle to the comfort of one’s couch, it can be detrimental to someone’s mental health in the long run. Dr. Amy Cirbus, Ph.D. of Talkspace, noted that remote workers experience anxiety and depression more than their office-based counterparts.
The isolation and loneliness contribute significantly to various mental problems among remote employees. Additionally, job stability and performance cause anxiety and insecurity among these workers. All these may result in irritation, sadness, fatigue, and a feeling of disconnection. Some even report insomnia and lack of focus.
While there are current conversations about the mental and physical issues experienced by remote employees, major changes in health care policies are not yet happening as of the moment. Many health premiums do not cover mental health issues yet, so the burden of paying for such medical bills lies with the workers themselves at least for now.
Even before the novel coronavirus outbreak, many feel that work from home will be part of the future of work. But, as companies are forced to have flexible arrangements, more employees and business owners have experienced first-hand the best things working remotely has to offer. Even LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner expressed his intention of continuing to work from home even when things go back to normal.
But again, it is not for everyone. It is not for all kinds of jobs. Also, many who work from home feel pretty lonely. This is especially when they live alone. However, with technology and the rise of coworking spaces, we can bet that there will always be places where people can fulfill some of their social needs.
We think telecommuting will be a big part of the future of work. It’s not going to be for everyone. But, it is likely to stay and grow. So, be sure you get up to speed with remote work tools, tips, and best practices. It is time to future proof your job and business. And it is time to use our remote arrangements to better our physical and mental healths.
Are you an advocate of remote work? Do you have anything to say about our work from home trends 2020 roundup? Sound off in the comments section below. If you want to learn more about this topic, we highly recommend that you check out our guide on how to work remotely as well.
FinancesOnline is available for free for all business professionals interested in an efficient way to find top-notch SaaS solutions. We are able to keep our service free of charge thanks to cooperation with some of the vendors, who are willing to pay us for traffic and sales opportunities provided by our website. Please note, that FinancesOnline lists all vendors, we’re not limited only to the ones that pay us, and all software providers have an equal opportunity to get featured in our rankings and comparisons, win awards, gather user reviews, all in our effort to give you reliable advice that will enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.