Enabled by the internet and tech tools, working from home or a chosen location is a trend that’s here to stay. Workers value the flexibility of being able to choose their own schedule. Remote work helps employees recruit top talent from around the world and save on overheads, and a significant majority of employers are happy to support remote work in some form.
So what are the popular jobs or industries trending towards remote working? It’s a diverse selection ranging from virtual assistants and web developers to travel agents and writers. Other popular remote-working occupations include online teacher, graphic designer, bookkeeper, child caregiver, realtor, and event planner.
Evidently remote work is becoming more practicable for a wide range of jobs, but as the following shows, the rise of remote work has other interesting trends in store for the coming decade.
Startups resolving challenges of remote working
Dispersed workforces might be associated with less than optimal team cohesion and culture, but startups are already addressing this challenge. For example, organizations with remote workers can organize tailor-made team treats at a click.
Productivity-tracking tools like Hubstaff, Time Doctor, IDoneThis, Trello, and Asana allow managers and team members to track tasks, check due dates, generate timesheets, and review progress. Similarly, real-time communication tools like Slack, Skype, and Join.me bring teams closer together and facilitate collaborative work.
Other useful tools for the location-independent workforce include Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox. These tools can help organizations overcome the majority of productivity, communication, and teamwork challenges
Fully remote businesses will become more commonplace
The number of workers participating in remote work has leaped in the past decade or so, but fully remote businesses are likely to become more commonplace. Employees might be one of the key driving factors.
Most workers agree they would prefer to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their working lives. Workers value remote work for convenience and flexibility in schedules and locations. However, the potential reduction in workplace stress levels and better work-life balance could also benefit companies.
Managed successfully, fully remote teams could offer benefits like higher productivity, reduced wasted time, improved staff turnover, and far lower overheads. Not only is remote work cost-effective and convenient for employers; maintaining a fully remote team empowers organizations to widen their available talent pool — no matter their location.
More industries are going remote
Remote work is likely to grow not only in terms of the numbers of organizations and workers leveraging it but also in terms of the types of industries relying on remote-working arrangements for service delivery as well as work set-ups. Technology will be a major driver behind this trend.
Companies offering flexible working will become the standard
As much as 91% of businesses agree they’re happy to support remote work. Matthew Hollingsworth is the Director of Operations at We Work Remotely, the largest community on the web to find and list remote jobs.
Hollingsworth suggests eventually remote work could become the norm rather than the exception. Businesses recognize flexible working arrangements provide strategic and financial benefits like lower overheads, work-life balance for employees, and reduced commuting times.
With hundreds of thousands of people seeking remote work every month and numerous companies embracing it, there’s a push from both employees and employers to make remote work the standard for working arrangements.
At the same time, some organizations might maintain semi-remote teams or a mixture of remote and in-office staff. This flexibility can accommodate different working styles and employees who prefer working from the office.
Not to mention it can also be a more cost-effective way to access non-core functions like marketing, strategy, and business development “on-demand,” rather than maintaining an internal team.
Businesses will start using more VR and AR technology
At the start of the century, few imagined how social media would come to shape how we connect with each other. The next big trend for how we’ll stay connected could be VR and AR, and this could transform how remote teams work.
Immersive technologies like these can bring team members closer together and open up new possibilities for collaborative work. For example, the VRChat platform allows its community members to chat, hang out in virtual spaces, and communicate using spatialized 3D audio and expressive lip-synced avatars.
Occulus Home is another VR platform where users can create their own spaces and spend time with other users. Other examples like Big Screen, Rec Room, Sports Bar VR, and Altspace VR offer a glimpse into how remote teams of the future can bond and communicate in specially created, dedicated digital spaces.
Remote work is driven by technology and strong demand
Remote work can offer enormous benefits for both workers and employers. In the 2020s, its growth is likely to be driven by enabling technologies, along with increasing numbers of companies and employees recognizing the advantages of going remote. Significant numbers of companies are already fully remote, but note having a 100% disparate team might not suit all industries.
Ultimately, the rise of fully remote and semi-remote teams brings with it a changing vision of what the workplace looks like. While in the past a central office and physical proximity were essential to the concept, the 2020s workplace increasingly looks like one rooted in virtual spaces, spaces that can be tailor-made to suit the unique requirements of each team or organization.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn