Remote work has been a highly requested benefit for employees across organizations. 80% of employees were requesting to work remotely at least some of the time. Remote work became an unexpected necessity and reality this year, and along with it, the potential to raise employee morale. While this may have happened for some, the risk of employee burnout has risen along with the new work environment and the future of remote work remains a question. 

Who’s Embracing a Future of Remote Work

Remote work has many benefits, including the ability to work a more flexible schedule from virtually anywhere in the world. The number of “digital nomads” has risen by 49% this year, even with travel restrictions. As employees shifted away from a traditional work environment, some companies have benefited as well with cost savings on operating expenses. 

Some major organizations have embraced a longer term future of remote work. These companies include

  • Twitter
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Uber
  • American Express
  • Airbnb
  • Indeed 
  • REI

While the specifics vary, each of these companies are committed to accommodating remote work differently than they did prior to the start of this year. 

Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few months and companies like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft have made it possible for teams to connect easily in a remote work environment. According to Global Workforce Analytics, 77% of the workforce indicated they wanted to continue to work from home in some form when the pandemic is over. Projections indicate that about 25-30% of employees will be working remotely by the end of 2021.

The long term impacts of remote work are yet to be seen, but many companies are banking on at home employees being part of the future of remote work within their organizations.  

What are the Cautions for the Future of Remote Work

Growing pains have certainly accompanied the shift to remote work. Households have been forced to adapt quickly to new school schedules, childcare needs, and a different kind of work/life balance. As a result, employees are working longer hours to compensate for interruptions during their day or because they are constantly connected to work through technology. Studies indicate that employees are working, on average, about 26 extra hours each month.

Burnout is on the rise. Monster, a leading employment platform, reports that two-thirds of their employees say they feel burned out. Some of the signs of burnout include irritability, shortened attention span, sickness, and decreased engagement. It’s expected that as remote work draws on, the number of people suffering from burnout will continue to increase as well. 

Much of the future of remote work will depend on management. Managers need to learn to trust and empower their teams to work effectively and efficiently. Intentional effort needs to be directed toward training managers to pivot from boss to coach. Companies that redirect professional development dollars into their managers will reap the benefits of making this shift to retain top employees and prevent burnout. 

While the future of remote work still elicits many unknowns, it is here to stay. The pandemic expedited the transition to this highly sought after employee benefit and will stay with us long after the end of this worldwide event.