Once only a pipe-dream of workers worn out by long commutes and long hours in the office, the reality of professionals working from home is now being tested to its limits in a way that no one could have predicted. Entire industries have been turned on their heads as Covid-19 forces the workforce of nearly every country to stay home and practice social distancing.
The Future Of Remote Working is Here
Remote working has not come as a surprise for all businesses and sectors. More than 5% of the European Union’s workforce, approximately 22 million EU citizens, worked from home as a standard before March 2020. No surprise then that remote work recruitment agencies already exist too, with the likes of Abodoo and Mondjo specializing in remote, flexible, co-working, and telecommuting job opportunities in Europe and the US.
The forced quarantine of employees from businesses not previously open to flexible work styles is proving that it is possible to maintain productivity without physical proximity. What can be expected for remote and flexible working in the future is pressure from employees for employers to adopt new working practices now that they have evidence of its potential.
Why Technology is a Remote Working Game Changer
If you think back a decade or so ago, you will remember that smartphones were not as prevalent, laptops were not as affordable, networks were slow, and software was not as accessible. A lot has changed that makes remote working possible now.
Technology titans Google and Microsoft both have free and paid solutions for remote working. Microsoft Teams allows people to, chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place. Google also has a suite of solutions that enable us to video conference and collaborate. These seemingly simple solutions mean that we, as businesses, are more connected than ever.
Cost plays a huge part in the move to remote working. Where in the past we feared astronomical phone bills from trying to keep in touch with the office, now we have free VOIP and video conferencing options on our mobile phones. Having the files and information to hand that we need for our jobs is no longer a concern either as more businesses use cloud-based technology. In fact, in the US, the number of businesses using cloud-based CRMs has increased from 12% in 2008 to 87% in 2020. Expect other countries to follow suit.
As of April 2020, 34 already countries have 5G including Romania. The jury is split on what 5G will really mean for businesses. What we do know for certain is that 5G will mean faster networks and more reliable connections.
The excitement around 5G is largely around the opportunities it is expected to create. The improved capacity that 5G provides means innovations like autonomous vehicles will be fast-forwarded to become a reality on our roads much sooner than expected. Better connectivity is expected to also mean more global business growth and potentially new industries.
A Virtual Future
The future will most definitely involve more virtual technology solutions being adopted by businesses. Innovations in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and holograms will soon see these technologies offering solutions suited to more business environments.
Holograms are already being used for event displays and advertising, as shopping concierges, and in architecture. VR technology is increasingly available and affordable making virtual meetings and site visits a near-future reality.
AR is still in a fledgling state but it is easy to see that this will become the future of sales with its seamless interactivity allowing users to ‘try on’ clothes and test out wall colors for their homes before they buy.
It is the ability to bring people together and allow them to share spaces and experiences that will make these technologies useful to businesses. It is likely that these 3D technologies will evolve to offer solutions for employee engagement and organizational culture which are weakened by remote working’s lack of physical proximity.
Without a doubt, digital communication channels and cloud-based work platforms are being used on a mass scale and are proving their worth for keeping businesses connected. However, if remote and flexible working is to become more prevalent in the future, it is other, more sophisticated, technologies that will take remote working from being an employee pipe-dream to universally accepted.
We can expect to see new technologies emerge as a result of the Covid-19 crisis that is inspired by the needs of the current work at home employees and aimed at future workforces. Whatever form those technologies take, one thing is for certain and that is that today’s situation, powered by technology, has enabled a workforce with the knowledge and understanding they need for a remote working revolution.
Elizabeth Hines is a writer at PhD Writers. As a digital marketer and writer, she writes about the latest tech and marketing trends, innovations, and strategies.