Remote Working Is Here To Stay, But How Will It Change In A Post-Pandemic World?

Though globally we haven’t fully stamped out coronavirus, New Zealand can count itself lucky for largely having returned to our pre-pandemic lives. But, alongside masks on public transport and hand sanitiser in every corner, there is one lockdown lifestyle change that won’t be reverting anytime soon – remote working. Stats NZ revealed that a whopping 42% of Kiwis worked from home during the pandemic. Now, just a year later, remote working has become the staple of a healthy office, and according to Forbes, it is expected to benefit 20-30% of employees in the ‘new normal’. So, of course, we can’t help but wonder how remote working will continue to change in the future.

What is remote working?

Otherwise known as telecommuting, remote work is a working style that allows employees to take their jobs outside of traditional office environments – such as from the comfort of their own homes. While remote workers traditionally utilise their desks, dining tables, and living rooms as workspaces, those who work remotely are free to take their projects anywhere they please, provided there’s an internet connection.

How does remote working benefit employees?

The reason remote work has been so well received by employees all comes down to a multitude of factors.

A better work/life balance

Working from home often comes with the bonus of a more flexible schedule. When it comes to remote working, as long as your work is completed on time, you deliver on goals, and you don’t miss any meetings, you can most likely afford to finish a little earlier or start a bit later. This means you have extra time for hobbies, to spend time with friends and family, or to work on personal projects. Additionally, due to this flexibility and a healthy work/life balance, working remotely can improve employee satisfaction and decrease psychological stress. Global Workplace Analytics also reported that remote work even increases employee retention!

More money in the bank

When working remotely, you’ll also end up saving some money. Gas, public transport, parking, cafe lunches; all of these expenses are lowered or cut entirely when working from home, which means more money in your back pocket.

Customisable working environments

Find the aircon a little too chilly in the office? Well, remote working employees have the luxury of customising their home-office environments. Whether you want a more ergonomic chair or a specific kind of lighting, creating your own custom working space can help you feel more comfortable and more productive.

Increased productivity and performance

In many cases, remote working also leads to an increase in productivity. Combine a reduction in office politics with customisable use of time and space, and employees are left to focus on the big picture: performance. Multiple studies, even pre-pandemic, have confirmed that working from home can increase productivity, provided that management styles and technology are also up to par.

What will the future of remote working look like?

With all the flexibility and benefits provided by remote working, it’s no shock that it might be around for the long haul. But, just as workplace culture and attitude change over time, we can also expect to see some advancements to remote working.

Advancing technology for communication, tasks, and data security

Having employees that span IP addresses and perhaps even countries can make it more challenging for IT departments to maintain good online employee experiences, help troubleshoot any technical issues and ensure the safety of company data. With the upward trend in remote working, technology will need to evolve to handle these demands. Not to mention as remote working increases in popularity, applications, and tools that aid in workflow, time management, and corporate communication will also continue to develop.

We might only work from the office a few days a week

New Zealand’s lockdowns were admittedly brief, and many people have already returned to the office. The difference is that some workplaces now incorporate work-from-home days or even only require people to be in-office for part of the week. Essentially, combining both remote and office work provides the best of both worlds by allowing us to have that much-needed personal interaction with our co-workers while also letting us bunker down and get the job done at home. Of course, in the future, the ability to switch between these locations depends on the type of role, but we can definitely expect the trend to continue.

Changes to employment laws and contracts

As more and more people give up the offices for their own abodes, employment laws and work contracts may also need to be updated to reflect new demands regarding hours, duties, and employee conduct. Under the Health and Safety Work Act (HSWA), employers must also reasonably ensure the safety of their workers, which can be hard to do when the ‘workplace’ is someone’s home. This could mean updates to health and safety laws may also be required to keep up with changing work cultures.

Changes in management styles

Working from home separates us physically from our teams, co-workers, and our managers. This means that those in charge will have to adapt their management skills to better supervise in a digital-only workspace.

An emphasis on employee mental health

Remote working and the pandemic also brought forward a focus on employee mental health which we hope will continue to develop from here on. Concepts such as ‘no meeting days’, mental health days, personal time off, mental health resources, and open conversations about workplace burnout and mindfulness could all be essential additions for organisations regarding the future of remote working.

Final thoughts

It took a whole pandemic to push us to embrace the benefits of remote working. But, now that we’ve had a taste of the possibilities and freedoms that it can provide, there’s no doubt it will be sticking around. However, nothing is perfect, and as our work culture continues to grow and develop, remote working will change alongside it. Soon we can expect to see advancements in relevant technology as well as employment law and legislation to keep up with the unique needs of teleworking. Additionally, workplaces may continue to use hybrid remote work/office work weeks, as well as develop management styles to better supervise and mentor teams from a distance. Importantly, mental health services in the workplace are also expected to become a new focus due to teleworking to help us all maintain a healthy work/life balance (which can be pretty hard to do when the two worlds are combined!)

Covid 19, Remote Working