By Simon Bacher, co-founder of Ling, a mobile edtech company, specializing in language learning.
When we think of remote work, chances are we’re taken back to March 2020, when the workforce all around the world suddenly seemed to shift overnight. Emails saying that “We’ll be switching to ‘work from home’ policies until further notice” flooded people’s inboxes, and everyone had to adapt. Not just in the workplace but in schools, too.
Fast forward nearly three years: Did that “further notice” ever come to an end? What’s the future of remote work in 2023, and what kind of work environment do employees and companies expect in 2023?
The Data On Remote Work Is Clear
If you’re a remote worker or an employer of remote workers, then you’ve probably heard the data: Remote workers tend to, on average, be significantly more productive than those working in an office.
I’m here to present the details behind an otherwise blanket statement commonly used to convince employers to allow remote work or used by remote workers to convince continued remote work policies.
Remote Work Findings
If you want to see a comprehensive review of remote work in 2021, Owl Labs is great. But I’ll be summarizing their findings for you. On average, those working from home in 2021:
• Were 47% more productive
• Spent 10 minutes less per day being unproductive
• Worked one more day a week
Why such drastic numbers? There are a few reasons:
• 25% of office workers reported office politics distracted their workflow, compared to just 15% of remote workers
• 34% of office workers said that interruptions from colleagues affected their productivity, compared to only 16% of remote workers
• 28% of office workers said that their daily commute negatively impacted their productivity, compared to 18% of remote workers
The Future Of Remote Work
So, did that “further notice” ever come to an end? Yes and no. After vaccines became widely available and Covid-19 case numbers leveled off, companies did one of three things: continued remote work, issued a back-to-the-office policy or initiated a hybrid work policy.
Studies show promising results for hybrid work, especially for those who enjoy face-to-face interactions and the excitement of office environments. Meanwhile, back-to-the-office policies were met with resistance as people got accustomed to the benefits of working from home.
2023 Work Environments And Expectations
Remote work is great, but it’s not everyone’s idea of a perfect work environment. Remember that, in 2022, Millennials were the largest generation in the workforce and tended to have a completely different outlook on “work” compared to previous generations.
It’s safe to say that most Millennials want remote work to continue and, surprisingly, won’t even consider a job if it doesn’t offer at least a little remote work. That’s due to several factors, including Millennials’ incredible value on a comfortable work environment, having flexible work schedules and being more in touch with a healthy work-life balance.
As long as Millennials are the largest workforce, remote work isn’t going anywhere, so companies should be ready to adapt in 2023 and beyond. In the coming years, remote work opportunities will have to meet the demands and expectations of increasingly working Millennials.
However, in terms of previous generations, like Baby Boomers, remote work is considered “nice,” but it’s not a requirement. Previous generations are more accustomed to and don’t necessarily mind working in an office. While companies won’t feel pressured by previous generations to offer remote work in 2023 and beyond, remote work opportunities will likely still increase due to the demands of generations now.
How To Prepare For Remote Work
Companies should prepare for increased remote workers if they haven’t already. If not, they may risk falling behind their competitors and missing promising young talent.
To prepare, companies can do the following:
1. Set up a centralized information system. With employees working worldwide, information needs to be easily accessible. Either find or invest in a sound, reliable centralized information system where everyone in the company can create, upload and edit informational documents. A great example of this kind of tool is Dropbox.
2. Train everyone on how to use the same messaging platform. This focuses on establishing effective communication between team members. During the onboarding process, ensure everyone knows which platform to use to communicate and how and is comfortable using it. For example, Slack is a good communication tool for small to big companies.
3. Optimize job postings. If you’re hiring for a remote position, finding the right person is important. Despite someone’s qualifications, they might lack initiative when working remotely. When reviewing applications or conducting interviews, have a specific set of criteria that candidates need to meet. If you have that, you’re likely guaranteed a great, long-term remote worker on your team.
Remote Work Takeaways
Remote work isn’t going anywhere. Companies should either already be adapting their working environments or preparing to adapt, as remote working demands will likely only increase from here on out.