Will the Popularity of Remote Work Sustain Through 2023?
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The past two years have seen a considerable shift towards remote work due to the pandemic, with the number of people working remotely increasing from 6% to an expected 22% by 2025.
Many companies have embraced remote work as an efficient and cost-effective way of doing business, but it has also come with its unique challenges. As such, a hybrid work environment has emerged as a compromise that works for both businesses and employees, and this is likely to be the prevailing trend in the years ahead.
In the life science industry, the trends are similar. According to a survey conducted by BioSpace, from early 2022 to now, an increasing proportion of new hires have been remote. This year, only 4% of organizations reported that none of their hires since 2020 have been remote.
Still, the concept is still very new to many businesses, and many are still trying to devise strategies to manage a remote workforce best. As the trend grows, some challenges, such as team collaboration, monitoring and mental health must be addressed.
The Challenges of Remote Work
Let's take at some of the challenges that come with remote work.
Employee Monitoring Software
To track employee productivity while working remotely, some companies rely on employee monitoring software. This technology can be used to monitor keystrokes, screenshots, and other data points to measure the performance of their employees.
However, this technology has come under fire for violating workers' privacy rights, and there has been increasing pushback against its use.
Employees never like to feel as though they are being monitored or micromanaged, but this becomes even more of an issue when they are within their own homes. This can lead to mental health issues and even distrust, resulting in decreased employee morale.
Companies should try to minimize the need for this technology by implementing clear expectations and guidelines for employees working from home. This will help ensure that their employees feel respected and comfortable with their work environment while allowing them to be productive.
Effects on Mental Health
One of the most important considerations for companies is employee well-being. Remote work can be isolating for some workers, leading to increased feelings of loneliness and anxiety. To address this issue, businesses must prioritize employee mental health and create more opportunities for team building and socializing remotely.
If you, as a remote worker, are experiencing feelings of loneliness or isolation, consider finding an activity or organization where you can socialize with others remotely. There are many online platforms and communities dedicated to remote workers that you can join, or even consider starting your virtual meetup group to connect with like-minded individuals.
Another challenge of remote work is the potential impact on company culture. Working remotely can make it challenging to build strong relationships with colleagues and maintain a sense of camaraderie. Companies must create an environment where employees feel connected to their peers and their organization’s goals and values.
Many organizations are introducing online tools and platforms to help encourage collaboration and communication. This can include virtual team meetings, private discussion groups, or even online games designed to foster team building. Regular events such as book clubs or movie nights can also be used to create a sense of community among remote workers.
The importance of cybersecurity has also increased during the pandemic as more people are working remotely without proper security measures in place. Breaches in security can lead to data theft and costly damage, so businesses must ensure that their remote employees are using secure networks and devices.
Organizations should also have the plan to respond to cyber threats quickly. This includes training all employees on the basics of cybersecurity and providing clear guidelines and instructions on how to protect their data while working remotely.
Are Remote Workers Less Productive?
Despite some challenges in this new cultural shift to remote work, the data is clear that this type of work does not necessarily lead to decreased productivity. In fact, a study published by Stanford found that working remotely can actually increase performance by up to 22%.
With this in mind, businesses can feel confident embracing remote work as a viable option for their employees. By addressing some of the critical challenges associated with remote work, businesses can help ensure their employees remain productive and engaged while working from home.
The Outlook for Remote Work
For the life sciences industry in particular, employers are still hiring remote employees, though at a lower rate than last year.
Last year, 51% indicated they had started recruiting remote talent due to the pandemic and 19% were already hiring remotely. Now, 47% indicated that they will recruit and hire regardless of location while an additional 38% say that they would consider remote, though they prefer to hire local candidates.
For the workforce as a whole, remote work is likely here to stay and is expected to grow even further in 2021 and beyond. According to the 2021 State of Remote Work Report from Owl Labs, 90% of full-time remote workers said they were more productive working remotely than when they worked in an office.
Additionally, 74% reported that working from home was better for their mental health after the pandemic, and 84% said remote work has made them happier than they were in their office job.
These statistics show that remote work can benefit companies and employees—so long as it is appropriately managed. Businesses must equip their workers with the tools and resources needed to succeed in a remote setting and ensure their employees feel respected and secure.
By doing so, they can foster a productive and healthy work environment that encourages collaboration and innovation.