The pandemic forced the widespread adoption of remote work. Working from home was a thing before COVID hit, but it was an exception to the rule.
Trading cubicles for Zoom calls was initially disruptive, but millions have started to prefer remote work over office work.
With the pandemic seemingly coming to a close (knock on wood), employers are beckoning their teams to squeeze back into their dress pants and fill cubicles.
The future of remote work is in flux.
For most of us, this is old news. You want to know what comes next and the answer to the billion-dollar question.
Is Remote Work Here To Stay?
Yes, but not in the way its biggest champions would hope. Let me explain why.
The sequel to this movie is "The Office Strikes Back" because we all knew that would happen. For some companies, it only makes sense to return to the office, and for others, the work model will suit what management wants regardless.
Old habits die hard. The office culture is sticky, so it's going to stick around.
But there is no putting the cat back in the bag. Many companies will stay remote. Many companies' internal calculus shows that the benefits of remote work smooth its rougher edges.
Let's break down the logic that keeps some companies remote even when unnecessary.
Benefits And Challenges Of Remote Working
Remote work is not sunshine and rainbows; many companies see more blue skies than dark clouds. Here are some common reasons for championing remote work and beatable obstacles to remote success.
Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work is a huge money saver. Companies save money on leasing and overhead and pass those costs on to their employees. Employees don't drop paychecks into their gas tanks because they don't have to commute.
The numbers are in, and employees are more productive working from home. They work more hours and get more done. Workers aren't watching the clock, and there are no clacking keyboards or cross-talk as distractions. People still wringing their hands over workflows are delusional.
Broader Talent Pool
Companies are open to more than just the talent within driving distance. Instead, their applicant pool is bottomless. Hiring managers can choose from the best of the best. You can build international, multicultural teams with diverse perspectives, which is a competitive edge.
Communication can be an issue in remote spaces. There is no reason that companies can't overcome communication hurdles with the right policies. GitLab is a big proponent of documentation and handbooks, so asynchronously, teams can stay on the same page no matter how many time zones are in place.
Contrary to the paranoia of some managers, overwork is a bigger problem than underwork when working remotely. Employees feel pressure to produce to overcome WFH Guilt. Too many workers confuse their increased productivity with less effort because it's easier to get a lot more work done out of the office.
Remote work can indeed contribute to lackluster employee engagement. Remote teams can feel disconnected and alien to one another. Teams feeling the pinch need to invest in their own culture and deliberately create opportunities for connection.
Remote Work Statistics
The numbers are in, and they're well in the black. Remote workers are making their companies more money in less time.
Remote employers report increased productivity (42%) and efficiency (38%)
GitLab found a 24% reduction in bureaucracy and office politics.
According to Owl Lab's State of Remote Work Report 2021, 55% of workers report working more hours remotely than at the physical office, and 67% are more productive at home.
Remote Work Forecast
40% of Americans prefer full-time remote work. Employers could lose up to 39% of their workforce, forcing a return to the office.
Kona's survey of 200 managers across 150+ organizations shows remote work is here to stay. Over 30% of organizations plan to remain remote, while half plan to retain a hybrid model even when the office is safe to work in.
According to Yerbo's State of Burnout in Tech 2022, 56% of IT professionals can't relax once their workday ends, and 62% feel physically and emotionally drained.
Want more remote work statistics? Check our list of 21 key statistics for remote work.
Why Managers Fear A Remote Work Future
The lion's share of managers who fear a remote work future worry that it'll decrease productivity, increase turnover and cut into revenue in the long term—loads of evidence point in the opposite direction. The proof of their own experiences will convince these holdouts in time.
A minority of these managers fear remote work for self-serving reasons. Remote work has flattened organizational structures, and middle managers fear that their skills won't be in demand outside of the office environment and they'll be shown the door.
In all honesty, some managers love the power trip and want to hold on to the office to continue to play lord/lady of the manor. We've all had terrible and incompetent bosses whose toxic 'skill set' won't translate into a remote environment.
It's much more dangerous to be a jerk if there is a digital record of your misbehavior. Remote work reflects poorly on leaders who don't actually lead anything. The work world might be better without a "managerial mindset."
List Of Remote-Friendly And Fully Remote Companies
Forbes has compiled a list of companies and brands that have embraced remote work. Below is a selection of those companies and other logos that continue to embrace remote work.
Duck Duck Go
More notable logos and brands will join these trailblazers in the following months and years. There will be a retraction in the number of these companies early on in the post-pandemic world. People will want to reclaim what's normal, but remote work empowers ingenuity and opens up too many avenues of success to be kept down long.
Why Are Companies Staying Remote?
Remote work lays bare the brutal inefficiencies and problems of commuting, office space, and the strictly scheduled work day. Having employees work from anywhere at any time is cheaper than having them work in one place at one time. Remote work makes companies agile and dynamic.