2020 has been a challenging year for businesses. Where we work, how we work, and the future of work—it’s all changed. The infamous digital transformation went from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.
The workplace today is a different place, there’s no denying that. And if we’ve learned anything this year, it’s how to conduct a video conference strategically in your living space. With a year of social distancing and dealing with the new normal of a global pandemic, remote work continues to be a reality for many of us.
As traditional office spaces continue to empty, many wonder what role remote work may play in the future of business, communication, and company social dynamics that were once dominated by office culture.
So, what does the future look like for modern business? Is the office a relic of the past? And will virtual working continue to be the new norm?
Growing Pains: Transitioning to Remote Work
The dramatic shift in how we conduct business and manage our work has not been an easy one for some companies. Without the proper processes and tools in place, the initial growing pains of opting for an at-home business model have been a challenging reality. Some of the biggest issues include:
- Business discontinuity. Companies that hadn’t implemented the necessary systems to support remote working struggled to stay connected with their employees, clients, and stakeholders, regardless of the industry. Employees also felt disconnected as companies juggled multiple apps and other disjointed processes.
- Disorganized digital footprints. Without the proper online infrastructure, companies found it difficult to set up and maintain multiple applications and accounts to manage communication between their teams.
- Inefficient communication. 20% of remote workers identified communication as an obstacle. The inability to conduct in-person interactions left many frustrated with the unfamiliar social disconnect. For some, the lack of a centralized office for simple communication was a significant challenge initially.
Communication challenges have extended far beyond the workplace. Everyday life has been heavily impacted by the global pandemic.
But for many businesses, these difficulties were amplified due to a lack of preparation. Companies weren’t ready for such a drastic change, let alone a 5-year jump in consumer and business digital adoption.
Still, the growing pains felt were just that—growing pains. The overwhelmingly positive response to remote work models has shown the potential for lasting changes to company dynamics and investment into unified, integrated social connectivity solutions.
How Remote Working Has Changed Business for the Better
Almost a year into the global pandemic and companies are finding what was initially a temporary answer to social distancing may be the long-term solution they needed after all. For management and employee workflow alike, remote working is—working.
With global adoption of work from home models to reduce office density and implement responsible social distancing practices, companies are seeing the significant benefits of this shift throughout the world.
Here are some benefit highlights of the remote working movement:
- A survey conducted by Kentik found that 47% of networking professionals reported feeling “more productive” while working from home this year, compared to pre-pandemic times.
- A 2-year study conducted in 2015 by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloomrevealed employee attrition decreased by 50% among telecommuters. According to the study, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off.
Enhanced Communication and Collaboration
- The popularization of remote working has opened the gates for increased international connectivity. Many companies now have broader access to a worldwide talent pool.
- Additional advancements in cloud technology, such as unified communication platforms have created a functional and seamless integration of systems for deep collaboration, project management, and connection.
Increased Flexibility and Creativity
- Working from home has enabled employees to adopt a more flexible work schedule. According to Statista, over 50 percent of respondents from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia indicated flexible scheduling as one of the primary benefits of working remotely in 2020.
- The emerging millennial workforce indicated a strong preference towards the flexible remote work environment. Less rigid work schedules meant more time for creative passions, which translated to increased productivity and employee satisfaction.
Providing Leadership Visibility
- Video conferencing and UCaaS has closed the communication gap between management and their teams by making essential communications more accessible and visible.
- Leaders can speak directly to their employees without being in the same physical space. Studies show this convenient and straight-forward method of interaction creates a more robust company culture and degree of care on every level of command.
- According to Forbes, visibility and accessibility in leaders were positively correlated with confidence and performance in team members. Through virtual meetings, remote work has put everyone in the same digital space. This reality has lowered the barriers created by faceless e-mails and the physical hierarchies designed in an office building, opening a space for genuine communication.
Rising Trends in Digital Solutions Investment
- People are integrating more of their personal information into the digital space as they spend more time online. That means more investment into protecting that sensitive data. In 2020, the global market for Virtual Private Network (VPN) expects to grow by an unprecedented 27.1%.
- As the world becomes more connected online and the desire for that connectivity becomes more mainstream, companies must establish more long-term digital infrastructures to protect their employees. This investment is a trend that’s now crucial for the success of companies moving through the digital age.
Saving on Costs and Environmental Impact
- The majority of workers are happy they no longer have to commute to work, with many of them wanting to stay remote after the pandemic ends. Workplaces will need to address this issue in the future.
- Reducing the need to travel for work is also a reduction in carbon emissions and travel costs. As climate change and the pressure for sustainability becomes more prevalent, so too will these digital solutions.
Before COVID-19: Trends in the Remote Work Movement
Even before the pandemic dramatically changed how we work and socialize, the remote work movement was already rapidly gaining momentum. According to Global Workplace Analytics, remote work in the US spiked by 173% between 2005 and 2018. With innovations in digital communication, working from home has become a long-term solution for some companies.
Other early adopters of remote work, like Dell, found the transition to remote work a simple process. Kristi Hummel, SVP of HR at Dell noted that the company’s 2009 Connected Workplace program “allows employees to choose the work style that best fulfills their needs on the job and in life in a highly mobile, collaborative, and flexible work setting.”
Dell isn’t an outlier either. With the successful experiment of remote working that many companies have virtually conducted over this year, shifting to a more long-term and permanent telecommunication solution is something that is strongly forecasted in the future.
What Will the Future Workplace Look Like?
Now, the shift to remote work doesn’t mean the traditional office is dead. Many companies going into 2021 have expressed a desire for a hybrid business model. These same companies plan on implementing policies that allow for remote working into 2021, with some predicting indefinite remote work models for their employees.
An August 2020 KPMG survey revealed more than 68% of large-company CEOs plan to downsize their office space after seeing the success of remote working and changes to how they conduct business. This survey also includes widespread leadership support for digitizing operations and creating next-generation operating models.
Research conducted by Maru/Blue for ADP Canada found that 45 percent of survey respondents would prefer to work at least three days a week remotely.
Unio: Bridging the Connectivity Gap in Today’s Remote World
There’s no denying that remote work is here to stay. Companies will need to move fast if they
want to ensure business continuity.
As companies become more familiar with online connectivity, UCaaS platforms will be essential to bridge gaps and enable enhanced communication.
Are you looking to improve connectivity and collaboration? Then Unio is the right fit for your business.
Unio connects leaders and their teams, boosting leadership visibility and team collaboration, so businesses can thrive in this increasingly digital world. Get in touch with one of our UCaaS specialists today to learn more.