A report released in January pre-COVID identified the workforce trends that dominated the past decade. Between the growth of remote work, software-as-a-service (SaaS), data security, and artificial intelligence (AI), the 2010s were defined by evolving tech. One of the most defining tech trends of the past decade involved remote work habits, which expanded by almost 400%, the report found.
We are now living through the midst of what Time calls “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment,” since the COVID-19 implosion in March 2020. This is the first time we’ve seen large organizations adopting remote work policies at scale and new formats need to be found to keep people motivated, spark ideas and stimulate communication.
From motivating remote teams to finding new methods of measuring success, marketers in particular, will need to navigate this ‘perfect storm’. Technology, video conferencing, webcams and messaging services can all bring greater engagement, but it’s how marketers communicate and interact in a meaningful way, not just with work colleagues but with their wider networks, that will be key.
As someone who has worked remotely or ‘virtually onsite” for more than a decade, the global shift to remote work in the wake of COVID-19 wasn’t much of a personal adjustment. Given that most of my remote or virtual marketing work is in support of tech and SaaS companies who were already enabled for a remote workplace—there was no downtime from one day to the next during COVID.
What’s been interesting to observe, is the adjustment that many companies have had to make, in record time, and most with no roadmap for how to manage it. Pre-COVID, remote workers seemed to have a bad reputation. Some employers seemed to believe that their workforce would be too easily distracted at home, where their managers couldn’t keep an eye on their direct reports.
For many years, part of selling my own services involved objection handling the need to have me physically onsite. I often wondered if the insistence was born from a place of distrust, but it was more likely that because they didn’t have to operate with remote workers, they didn’t want to fully embrace it.
Now that most workplaces (who are able) have made the shift to a completely remote model, we are learning that productivity has not waned. In many cases, productivity has skyrocketed. Gallup puts it all together, “job flexibility engages remote workers — which drives performance.” Their findings indicate that remote workers can be 20 to 25 percent more productive than their onsite colleagues.
Airtasker surveyed 1,004 full-time employees – 505 of whom were remote employees – throughout the U.S. about their work habits and productivity. The results indicate that remote workers are actually more productive than their office-based counterparts. The study found the following:
- Remote employees work an additional 1.4 more days per month than in-office employees, which is nearly 17 additional workdays a year.
- Remote employees take longer breaks on average than office employees (22 minutes versus 18 minutes, respectively), but they work an additional 10 minutes a day.
- Office workers are unproductive for an average 37 minutes a day, not including lunch or breaks, whereas remote employees are unproductive for only 27 minutes.
- 15% of remote workers said their boss distracted them from work, which is less than the 22% of office-based employees who said the same thing.
It’s hard to predict if the remote work environment will continue as it is post-COVID. Fast Company predicts that remote work software, like mobile work tools and virtual reality conferencing, will become the preferred form of communication – even over face-to-face meetings. And that AI will also likely play a major role in managing remote staff.
As someone who has enjoyed remote marketing work for many years, the trend won’t be changing anytime soon for me. It’s a relief in some ways, to see many companies now embracing the model, as it’s proven to work.
Are you enjoying the shift to remote work–or is it nothing new for you?
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org , I’d love to hear your thoughts.