Remote work is an exciting ongoing trend in almost every industry worldwide. As long as you can do a job without having to be in a specific physical location, you can do it remotely!
All around the world, especially in the US, remote work is on the rise and of project management trends. Whether it’s a full-time or part-time arrangement, more employees will have access to remote working hours in 2020 than ever before. Some people are even making a business out of creating remote work opportunities!
As the number of remote workers grows, it’s easy to spot a few ongoing trends in the sector. Here are seven trends to keep a lookout for in 2020.
Remote work trends
1. In-office workdays
Remote work isn’t always a full-time arrangement. Companies have found that remote working teams can feel disconnected from each other and the company itself. This is why some companies are increasingly looking for local telecommuting employees or having required in-office days.
In-office days show up in different forms. Some companies look only for local or semi-local employees who can come once per week for meetings and updates in the office. Others fly all their remote employees from around the globe out for giant meetups once or twice a year.
The benefit of in-office work is that it helps keep remote workers firmly grounded. They understand that they’re part of the company and they become more familiar with the others in the organization, as well as company values. It may even become a productivity booster and reduce the feeling of isolation.
2. Cybersecurity takes the spotlight
Industry experts agree that cybersecurity is a big issue with remote workers. The problems range from accessing secure data through unsecured networks, using personal devices to do company work, and displaying or speaking about sensitive company information in public.
Employers are now wising up to some of these issues, particularly small businesses that are the most vulnerable to security breaches. As 2020 comes in, we can expect to see more companies implementing widespread cybersecurity policies and making sure there are basic layers of data security for all remote and contract workers. And of course, managers should take the security of project management tools seriously.
3. Creating digital water coolers
When a team consists of remote workers either partially or fully, it’s easy for local workers to think the remote workers aren’t pulling their weight, or to feel like they’re not even part of the team. There are few physical meetings between remote workers and on-site workers, or even remote workers with each other.
Employers are increasingly looking for ways to recreate the water cooler moments in an office through online platforms.
One way many team managers are doing this is by hosting regular meetings where staff can interact with each other on a friendly basis. These are usually held over video chat sessions with instant messaging apps or some other online collaboration tools available for using the rest of the day.
GanttPRO is a Gantt chart based project planning tool that allows remote teams to collaborate online on projects. It has a very intuitive interface and a short learning curve.
The goal of these scheduled times is to allow remote workers to feel more connected and to form the bonds that build trust. As this problem is understood and recognized by employers, it’s going to get addressed in new ways.
Another great way to create virtual bonds is to organize online games for remote teams.
4. Niching is even more important
Research suggests that being a “generalist” can be better than being a specialist in terms of workplace success and salary in a traditional job. However, the same can’t be said for remote workers.
For many remote working fields, people with general skillsets are seen as less valuable and easily replaceable, leading to lower paydays.
Freelancers especially run into this problem. While employees working within a structured hierarchy may find more success when they have general skillsets, freelancers can earn more by niching into a specific field and becoming proficient in niche skills instead.
Remote workers doing independent contracting work can benefit from having uncommon skills more than having many skills. As the number of freelancers and remote workers increases, this is on track to get more pronounced.
5. Digital nomads seek new spaces
A certain breed of remote workers, the digital nomads, do their work while traveling around the world to new and exciting places. This is a great way to see the world without going broke or requiring a work permit in every country you visit. However, it also presents some limitations to travelers, as they need a solid internet connection in a safe and quiet environment to get work done.
New businesses have taken advantage of this niche. Whereas hostels used to be the go-to suggestion, there are now co-working spaces, hotels, and AirBnb-style rentals that are catered specifically to meet the needs of digital nomads. This is likely to continue growing as the number of digital nomads needing a place to stay abroad grows in 2020.
6. Companies are embracing remote workers
Many companies going into 2020 are looking for a way to solidify remote work policies. Companies can benefit from employees working remotely because fewer in-house employees means lower overhead costs in the form of reduced office space and utility usage. Going into 2020, we can expect to see even more companies formalizing remote working arrangements.
Formalizing remote work doesn’t always look the same. Some companies refused to allow remote work, while others allow it on a part-time basis. At the other extreme, a few companies hire exclusively remote workers with little to no attendance required. With cost benefits and the potential for increased productivity, companies are jumping onto the trend of managing remote employees slowly but surely.
7. Employees work longer hours
And now for one of the major downsides of remote work. According to a 2019 report on remote workers, people who work remotely say they work more than 40 hours in a week 43% more often than on-site employees. This shows that many remote workers tend to work longer hours than their on-site counterparts do.
Part of this comes down to the fact that remote workers can cut out a daily commute to work, movement around the office, and leaving the office for lunch. It’s not that remote workers don’t leave their homes or working spaces. However, they don’t have to do it every day, which frees them up to work for longer each day without it feeling like an extended workday.
The problem comes when remote workers can’t draw the line between working hours and personal time. This is a common problem since it can be difficult to get away from your work if you do it at home. However, most remote workers overcome this problem relatively early on. Over time, they develop systems to help manage work versus personal hours.
What do any of these remote work trends mean for you?
As a remote worker or someone aspiring to work remotely, it’s a great idea to stay up to date on what’s happening in the industry. Get ahead of certain problematic trends and learn what you can do to make the experience better for everyone involved.
Even if you’re not a remote worker, it’s still a good idea to learn about the challenges your remote working colleagues face and what’s changing for them. Who knows, you may find yourself in the world of remote work before too long!
Nikola Baldikov is a Digital Marketing Manager at Brosix, a secure instant messaging software for business communication. Besides his passion for digital marketing, Nikola is an avid fan of football and he loves to dance.