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Looking Toward The Future of Remote Work

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We don’t know what the future holds, but one thing is clear — remote work is here to stay. Learn more about the trends that will define that future and how to prepare for them.

Everyone’s talking about the future of work — what does it look like? Will employment go down or up? Will certain jobs become obsolete? There’s a lot still up in the air, but one thing has become increasingly clear in the months following the coronavirus pandemic — remote work is the future. What was once simply a perk is now an expectation as flexible work models are embraced by most companies.

At ActivTrak, we believe in empowering employees to do their best work no matter where they are, and that means staying up to date on the future of remote work. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the trends that will drive that future, including increased interest in the hybrid model, added emphasis on supporting remote employees, productivity monitoring metrics, workforce analytics technology, and more. No one knows what the future holds, but once you understand these trends you can unlock a better understanding of where the future of remote work is heading.

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The future of remote work is inextricably linked to the future of work in general. Between the aftermath of the pandemic and the realization that many employees simply prefer to work from home, today’s managers are entering an entirely new landscape — one where the necessity of living in business hubs like New York or San Francisco is becoming less pressing every day. We predict that these key trends will define the future of remote work.

Increased interest in a hybrid model

Interestingly enough, the future of remote work might not be fully remote after all. As employers embrace flexibility in the workplace and employees figure out what working arrangements help them be most productive, we’re seeing more enterprises adopt a hybrid model. In fact, a recent ActivTrak survey found that while remote work will certainly continue to be a popular work model, hybrid work is likely going to take the lead with 54% of organizations planning to experiment with different work options in the future.

The great thing about the hybrid model is that it gives remote workers a greater level of freedom and control over their work, more than what could be achieved with either full-time remote work or full-time in-office work. People work in different ways and while fully remote companies are sure to emerge in the coming months and years, it’s clear that more varied work models, including hybrid work, will likely become the norm as well.

A need for work from home policies and best practices

When most employees spent their time working in a physical office with the occasional WFH day, remote work best practices were pretty informal. As remote work becomes more and more integral to how we work today, business leaders will have to create policies that formally lay out their approach to remote work. This will increase transparency, reduce miscommunication, and facilitate a more systematic approach to remote work management.

The best way to do that is by creating defined remote work or hybrid work policies that set clear expectations for your hybrid or remote employees. These policies can cover topics like expected work hours, team norms surrounding the use of apps like Slack and Zoom, standards for calendar management, and more. With either of these policies, the goal is to facilitate open and transparent communication around your enterprise’s new flexible work model.

Greater focus on how to support remote workers

We’re seeing a lot of managers, business leaders, and C-suite executives come to us with questions about how to better support remote workers and help them reach their full potential. We’re also hearing concerns about identifying low levels of employee engagement and burnout in the face of continuing remote work post-COVID. Employee well-being — no matter what work environment they’re in — is going to be a top priority for business leaders moving forward, driving much of the future of remote work.

Trust and transparency are key to supporting the well-being of remote workers. When employees feel that they can be honest with leadership about things like at-home commitments, their work schedules, and their optimal focus times, you’ll see higher employee engagement, improved mental health and overall well-being, and even a better work-life balance for remote workers. Plus, all of these improvements lead to higher employee productivity.

Another essential piece of the puzzle will be taking steps to avoid burnout and overwork in remote employees. Sometimes the remote work model blurs the line between home and the home office, making it far too easy for work to bleed into a remote worker’s personal hours. Not only does burnout cost billions of dollars in health care costs each year due to serious mental health concerns, but it also causes a reduction in employee productivity. Finding ways to support the mental and physical well-being of employees will be central in the future of remote work.

Increased use of workforce analytics technology

As enterprises have settled into their new post-COVID flexible work models, it’s become clear that the future of remote work will be defined by how well enterprises bring workforce analytics into their organizations. Visibility suffers without these tools and it becomes challenging to support remote workers when you can’t get a clear read on what they need.

Workforce analytics software makes gaining insight into how remote workers are performing, avoiding burnout, and highlighting areas where you can help fast, easy, and effective! With a workforce analytics tool, managers can dig into productivity metrics and generate data-driven insights into the way their employees work — whether they’re remote or in the physical office — so they can make targeted interventions that help their employees work wiser. Monitoring employee productivity can help managers identify inefficient workflows, unbalanced workloads, underutilized apps, and much more.

Prepare for the Future of Remote Work with ActivTrak

We’re committed to helping employees do their best work, no matter where their office space is — that’s the ActivTrak way! It’s clear that remote work, in all of its forms, represents the future of work as we know it. By leveraging data from workforce analytics software like ActivTrak, business leaders can prepare their employees and themselves for that future. With transparent and open employee productivity monitoring, you can find the work options that are best for your employees, support their productivity and their well-being, and set them up for future success.

Pro Tips:

  • Create a culture of transparency so your employees feel comfortable being honest with you about their flexible work experience.
  • Create a remote work policy as soon as possible to set clear boundaries and expectations.

Remember that remote employees will have different needs than their in-office counterparts. Simply making their job doable from afar is only half the battle. Give them the specific support they need to succeed.

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