Remote work is now the biggest workplace trend of 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, quarantines and lockdowns, which have forced millions of employees to work from home. Here are 10 remote work tips and workplace trends for virtual employees and remote recruiters.
According to Gallup, since the COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed, the percentage of remote workers jumped from 31% to 62%.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which supports over 1,000 organisations globally, has now allowed 85% of its staff to work remotely, except in the case of employees who support critical functions of global clients.
In the months and years ahead, experts say remote work will only become more prevalent. Today, companies are scrambling to get onboard the remote work train and it’s very likely that remote work will become the new normal.
Remote Work And The Gig Economy
In the last 25 years, how we work has changed radically. The mobile phone has probably been responsible for making us all hyper-connected and that, in turn, has made talent boundary-less.
The world is now the marketplace for talent and Career 3.0 will be about the bulk of the workforce becoming gig workers and operating outside the payroll of an employer.
This workforce will come to the marketplace with multiple skills and offer it to multiple buyers and paid at different rates depending on the level of proficiency, allowing people to bring in and monetise all their skills, education and hobbies.
According to research from ReportLinker, the gig economy is becoming more and more attractive to traditional workers as most workers believe that freelancers are happier than traditional workers.
Another reason that remote work is becoming more and more attractive to both workers and companies is that the home office is considered to be the most productive workspace, according to research by Jabra.
While the top reasons for being a freelancer or remote employee were being one’s own boss, having flexible working hours and having a better balance between work and personal life, today being safe from infections like the coronavirus pandemic would also rate a mention.
On the other hand, many remote workers and freelancers worry about aspects such as the lack of financial security or job security and saving for one’s retirement.
Research by BBVA says that by 2030, individuals will cease to have permanent jobs and there will be an increased rise of freelancers.
India is the largest freelancer market, with 10 million people freelancing and there’s a growing tribe of professionals who are slowly moving from mainstream work and opting for freelance projects.
An Upwork study revealed that 73% of Gen Zers started freelancing by choice rather than out of necessity. Gen Z is foregoing traditional, corporate roles and freelancing by choice more than any other generation.
The gig economy is expected to cover 25-30% of the job market by 2022. Over a period of time, there will be more and more full-time gig professionals and organisations will also have 30-40% of their jobs assigned for them.
Some of the top-paying gig jobs are in blockchain, deep learning, ethical hacking, AWS and robotics where the rate per hour is $80-120.
In India, content writing, translations, creative works, recruitment, sales, digital marketing, branding, SW development, architecture, BIM, accounting, data analytics, consulting, counselling are the typical gig jobs.
10 Remote Work Tips For A Post-COVID World
Studies have found that 80% of job seekers would choose a job with a flexible work-from-home policy over one that doesn’t offer the same benefit and businesses that do not have a flexible workspace policy risk losing out on top talent.
With the COVID-19 pandemic giving us more reasons to work from home, hiring managers today expect more of their team to work remotely in the next 10 years, and believe that their full-time, permanent employees will work mostly remotely.
Here are 10 remote work tips for virtual employees and remote recruiters.
1. Energy levels fluctuate throughout the day
Research has extensively demonstrated that working under stressful conditions is extremely demanding and can be detrimental to employees’ health and well-being.
To counteract stressful job demands, adequate management of an employee’s cognitive and emotional resources at work, called “energy management” is needed during the workday.
Human energy levels decline during the course of the day, and successful recovery throughout the working day helps employees to maintain health and well-being by preventing strain to build up.
Because of ultradian rhythms (a recurrent period or cycle repeated throughout a 24-hour circadian day), the optimal time we can focus on work before taking a break is usually around 90 minutes.
After that, we need to take a break and rejuvenate ourselves before we can get back to work and perform at our best again. Unfortunately, the only break that most people take during their 9 to 5 jobs is a lunch break.
If you work remotely, you should start scheduling your work according to tasks that require high, medium, and low energy, all of which represent different demands for energy, focus and alertness.
2. Introverts and extroverts work differently
There are many reasons why introverts have an advantage over extroverts when it comes to working remotely. Just like introverts have a harder time maintaining their sanity in busy work, extroverts are going to have a harder time staying sane in a remote job environment.
However, there are plenty of resources, activities and actions you can take with colleagues to ensure your social life continues to regenerate weekly, so working from home can be good for both introverts and extroverts.
The biggest health risk is not smoking, second-hand smoke, or even sitting – its loneliness and isolation. Although there are many benefits of working remotely, workers spend almost 50% of each day on digital vs. in-person communication, and more than half feel lonely as a result.
While freelance work and flexible schedules that allow employees to work from home have become more common, they also limit co-worker interactions and engagement and remote workers are more likely to quit because of loneliness.
Although flexible workers claim to work more effectively than those working a traditional ‘nine-to-five’ and benefit from feeling happier and less stressed, there are drawbacks, such as missing out on their workplace’s social life and feeling lonelier.
So how can we create a human workplace in an increasingly freelance, remote, contingent, and gigged-out world? Companies need to leverage all that’s great about technology, but also make sure that employees put technology in its “place” to develop real, human connections.
Conference calls and virtual meetings are expected to become more common, with face-to-face meetings being the only form of business interaction that respondents expect to become less frequent.
Research on coworking spaces show that these shared, member-based workspaces can substantially reduce the isolation and loneliness associated with remote work. However, with imposed lockdowns and quarantines, coworking is one of the areas that are likely to suffer most.
3. Remote work boosts productivity
Increasingly, employers are seeing that allowing remote work and empowering mobile employees is good for talent acquisition and retention, morale and productivity.
Working from home may be more economical, but it does have its downsides like disturbance from the family, the lure of getting laid back and the non-professional ambience in case a client wants to drop in.
Routine kills energy, so it’s important for businesses to cut the red tape and shake things up a bit. If you can’t get rid of weekly meetings, switch the day, time, and location.
4. Remote work will address the skill gap
It’s time for organizations to stop fixating on talent and to focus on skills instead, says Suzanne Lucas in her TED Talk.
She explains, “When we use the word ‘talent’ to refer to employees, what we’re implying is you need to have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job perfectly from day one.”
85% of the jobs that today’s students will do in 2030 don’t exist yet. Education can no longer be seen as something that stops when a person graduates from college.
Depending on industry and geography, between one-half and two-thirds of companies are likely to turn to external contractors, temporary staff and freelancers to address their skills gaps.
By 2022, 9% of the Indian workforce will be in new jobs which do not exist today. 37% would be in jobs which will radically change skill sets. Entrepreneurs will include new mothers who want more time at home and 75% more females than males prefer working from home.
Already, roughly one in three college graduates are underemployed. The vast majority of jobs, even into 2025, will not require a college education. In fact, since around 2000, jobs have started to become deskilled.
In a study, Cognizant listed 21 roles that will emerge in the next 10 years and that will be central to the future of work. This should serve as a wake-up call for graduates in India who are anyway in dire need for re-skilling.
The rapid proliferation of AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and robotics are resulting in rapid and significant changes in skill requirements, discounting some skills that have existed for hundreds of years and placing premiums on others.
AI will require reskilling millions of workers and will significantly shape the future of work. Today, future-proofing your career is less about picking a safe job and more about constantly updating your skills throughout your career.
In the future workplace, there will be no need for paper-pushing employees. Employees will move away from being skill-focused and workplace skills that were once valuable, such as fluency in a specific digital platform, will soon become irrelevant.
Instead, the core principles that make one a professional in their field will carry increased weight. It also means breaking free from traditional models of recruiting those with 4-year and advanced degrees.
Today, being successful means setting yourself apart, so you need a personal brand that defines who you are and who you want to become. That involves building a reputation, trust, and a following. These are the 5 “super skills” you need for jobs of the future.
5. Life-long education will be the norm
Lifelong learning is the new buzz phrase when it comes to discussions of work. Transforming this from rhetoric to reality will require fundamental changes in educational institutions and teaching methods, which are already going online.
According to the Pew Research Center, we are now in the transitional stage of employers gradually reducing their prejudice in the hiring of those who studied at a distance, and moving in favour of such ‘graduates’ who, in the workplace, demonstrate greater proactiveness, initiative, discipline, collaborativeness – because they studied online.
For colleges to thrive, they should embrace lifelong learning programs that allow workers to continually upgrade their expertise – including “micro-credentialing” – to help them learn new skills.
According to Indian Skill Report 2018, around 48% of engineers are unemployed and a study by employability assessment company, Aspiring Minds, says 95% of engineers in the country were not fit for development jobs.
The reason behind this is that often, new engineers lack the advanced programming skills needed for jobs today. More often, engineers with the right skill sets work jobs that require much less skill.
“The mission of higher education now is to help students become robot-proof,” says Joseph Aoun, author of Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.
6. Location is no longer a limitation
Today, where you live has nothing to do with how much you earn, and thanks to the internet, there is no lack of opportunity or limit to your earnings today. There is only a lack of imagination.
It used to be that people moved to different cities and states based on the availability of jobs and the type of industries that were present in these locations. In the future, this won’t be a huge factor.
As the internet and cloud technology continues to grow, location will no longer be an issue. Today, a majority of freelance graphic designers in India are from tier II and tier III cities.
By 2027, there will be 86.5 million freelancers, compared to just 83.4 million non-freelancers and remote working will become the norm, giving people more flexibility to work and live where they please.
Great communities and relationships can be built via video conference and companies that understand how to make room for remote workers will continue to attract those that are highly skilled, think organically and oftentimes outside the box and who desire new experiences.
Employee expectations around flexible working are changing rapidly and quality flexible working can help organisations attract talent, improve employee job satisfaction and loyalty, reduce absenteeism and improve well-being.
7. Recruitment will change drastically
Transitioning to a remote workforce will also give employers access to a larger pool of talent, increase productivity and improve employee satisfaction.
Governments all over the world will have to implement workplace reforms and to protect workers on zero-hour contracts, agency employees or gig economy workers.
Organisations may hire a remote staffing agency that provides remote workforce management solutions or put their own remote work policy in place to manage freelancers and remote teams.
Artificially intelligent software that can scan and analyze your online profile, and create a score or a risk rating that’s searchable by future employers, is already a reality.
8. Managed remote solutions can bridge the gap
43% of professional women with children leave their jobs. Not only are they pulled back home by their familial responsibilities, but they’re often pushed out by employers unwilling to invest in their return to the job.
Project-based work provides many benefits to both businesses and those restarting careers after a break. Freelancers don’t hit the bottom line as hard as because they aren’t paid benefits.
With clear project descriptions, deadlines, and compensation, more moms who may be overqualified for a position might decide that they are willing to help out with a project because it meets their needs in the short term.
Moms could take on a freelance, deadline-driven project with platforms that provide managed remote solutions, thereby bridging the gap between virtual employee and remote recruiter.
For organisations looking to offshore staffing and hire virtual employees through such platforms, Managed Remote Solutions (MARS) by SHEROES is a unique offering that is designed to help businesses with their everyday processes.
SHEROES picks up processes that can run remotely and helps organisations run them via a pool of 10,000+ remote workers curated and certified from the SHEROES Community, thereby helping qualified women returning to work.
SHEROES’ women-only remote workforce is certified, trained and selected for their prior corporate experience in diverse functions.
A SHEROES Project Manager experienced in best practices for managing remote employees, with the help of remote work software and remote work tools, manages the end-to-end execution of the remote team or process.
Whether you’re an HR manager or remote recruiter planning to hire a remote team or outsource staffing, or a mom looking for part-time remote-jobs, you’ll find that Managed Remote Solutions (MARS) by SHEROES is the best remote workforce platform to work with.
Organisations can avoid hiring staff through recruitment companies. Nor will hiring remote employees through a remote staffing agency and managing remote teams or virtual employees be required.
9. Robots & automation will lead to job losses
The future of work will belong to more intricate jobs that require emotional and social finesse over physical effort, and women have always been far advanced in that respect when compared to men.
However, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that AI and the fourth industrial revolution will have a more severe impact on women than men because many of the tasks done by women are more routine tasks, easily substituted by technology.
Going forward, 11% of women’s jobs will be affected by technology in the future, whereas that number sits at just 9% for men. This shift will happen gradually. But one thing is for sure, the future of work will be different, particularly for women.
Digital, robotics and AI are expected to lead to job losses of about 5 million. Men will get one new job out of the three jobs they lose; women, on the other hand, will get only one job out of the five jobs they are losing.
According to the World Economic Forum, women will be disproportionately affected by the automation of jobs and development of artificial intelligence, which could widen the gender gap if more women are not encouraged to enter the fields of science, technology and engineering.
If your job can be replaced by AI, it will, and you’ll need a new career. Contact centres will shrink by 50% in the next three years as routine tasks are automated by bots that offer an 8.6% increase in profit margin per customer.
Doctors won’t be spared, as sophisticated robotics will take away some of the surgeons’ operating responsibilities. An older doctor with shaky hands will be dispensed with and replaced by a robot that does not need breaks or sleep. Reading X-rays to detect cancerous cells and other diseases will be viewed by AI that could spot things much better than the human eye.
Driverless vehicles, kiosks in fast-food restaurants and self-help quick-phone scans at stores are already eliminating the minimum wage and low-skilled jobs.
10. Working remotely is better for the environment
Flexible working that allows employees to work from home may reduce the levels of CO2 emissions by 214 million tons per year by 2030, according to a study by Regus.
Workplace Trends In A Post-COVID World
The gig economy has shaken up expectations about what being an employee or an independent contractor means.
If you want to be a remote worker, you must understand that you’ll be running a business (which is you) and all the frills attached to a business come with it. You are not going to be as free as you think you will.
Your clients are your employers, and as a remote worker, the responsibility of all the areas of business like business development, marketing, managing client, contracts, finance, and so on, solely lies on you.
The gig economy has many positive aspects and it also has negative aspects. The relationship between employer and employee is going to change, particularly in the informal sector in countries like India, where 93% of all workers are in the informal sector.
Automation may not quite bring the benefits to workers that we were told it will. This means, more than ever, we need to take responsibility for our future in our own hands.
You must learn how to create your own economy by learning new skills and creating a personal brand for yourself. The earlier you start doing this, the more likely it is that you will survive the transition when the robots take over.
One common argument made by executives is that workers whose jobs are eliminated by automation can be “reskilled” to perform other jobs in an organization. But automation pushes workers to the less productive parts of the economy.
In today’s modern work environment, workers have increased responsibility for their own formal and experiential learning, says the NASA blog. Careers are no longer linear or “owned” by a corporation, and learning needs are increasingly diversified and personalized.
In the future, manufacturers will be less likely to hire blue-collar workers and more likely to prefer engineering and technology specialists, who can program, maintain and upgrade those increasingly intelligent machines.
The jobs that will survive are creative types, health care workers, managers, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents who deal personally with clients and take advantage of artificial intelligence to expand their reach and offer more sophisticated information to clients.
Scientists, engineers and mathematicians will be in even more demand, especially those who can navigate the interface between man and machine.
The most important job of the future could well be an old one: educator. Educational services will be the second-largest job-generator, after health care, in coming years.
Not that long ago, being able to work from home was rare and was seen as a huge perk. These days, it’s far more common.
The concept of a job-for-life to which you were thoroughly dedicated no longer really exists. People want more balance in their lives and because there has been so much change and disruption they have learned they need to flexible.
Technology will kill the 9-to-5 work week, says Richard Branson. The 40-hour workweek stems from labour laws created in the early 20th century, and many have said this model is becoming increasingly obsolete.
The way we all work is going to change, he says on the Virgin blog. People will eventually take three and even four day weekends and job-sharing may increase.
People will need to be paid the same or even more for working less time, so they can afford more leisure time. The new legislation will provide improved protection as well as health benefits for remote workers.
As remote work goes mainstream, communication will diversify and organizations will bring together multiple tools and technologies, offering them both to in-house workers and remote employees.
Remote workers will be managed and monitored by AI-driven platforms and augmented and virtual reality will help transform how projects are envisioned, planned, and prototyped.
Since people will live to their 90s and beyond, people will be forced to work longer into their late 70s. Many will be healthy enough, but most need the income.
Employers are already beginning to roll out programs aimed at helping older workers move into a different phase of their careers without clocking out altogether.
Those who care for the elderly and seniors in all facets of their lives will greatly benefit. General practitioner and age-related specialist doctors, nurses, financial advisors, hospices, old-age homes, physical therapists and surgical enhancement specialists will thrive as the ageing will be in dire need of their services.
In the future of work, we will have many different remote careers in our lifetime due to the rapid-shifting work landscape and the gig economy will become the standard for most people.
Coders and computer engineers will be the beneficiaries of this trend until AI can learn to code as well as or better than humans.
How To Succeed In The World Of Remote Work
The future world of work may be much more self-directed. Workers will solve problems and change things themselves, which potentially means there is a need for fewer managers and flatter hierarchies.
Every working professional should maintain an updated LinkedIn profile and professional social media presence. Appearance, both online and in public, is vital to maintaining personal presentation.
Successful freelancers know how to take inventory of their skills, determine which ones have the highest market demand, and put them to use in a way that they can monetize. From technology-related to people-oriented skills, here are the top skills you must acquire to up your career game.
Savvy workplaces such as Zapier and others are already managing remote teams successfully by making their operations and culture more friendly to the future of work.
Leading a productive (and happy) distributed team may seem challenging, but these five principles will help foster a resilient company culture to help you along the way.
Do Indian policymakers recognise the contributions of home-based workers even within the informal economy? Many would agree that the answer is ‘no’.
The bias that fails to accept the fact that a productive economic job can be performed from home comes from a patriarchal value system that has always attached economic value to spaces where men work.
It thus reinforces the idea that work is something that is performed outside the home – in an office, factory, shop, etc. Any work that is performed at home then cannot be valued as a ‘worthy’ work.
However, the fact that remote work has now become necessary around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic will definitely help in recognising home-based or remote workers as part of the workforce.
About the author:
Priya Florence Shah is the author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women. In the book and online course, you’ll learn how to throw off the shackles of your own limiting beliefs, come into your power and design your destiny.