According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people working remotely has grown by 159% since 2009. It’s a huge leap, but it shows just how much the landscape of work has changed over recent years.

Dolly Parton’s famous hit no longer resonates, as fewer and fewer of us are working the traditional 9-to-5 job in a faceless office. But what has brought about such a rapid change, and what are the implications for the future of remote work?

The Rise of Remote Working

The increase in the number of people working remotely has been impacted by a range of factors, including primarily the advancements in technology and changing attitudes towards work-life balance.

As remote working becomes more mainstream, companies are finding that they have to be more accommodating and flexible. The result? It turns out that the myth of needing to be in an office all day to be productive is just that!

The Benefits of Remote Work

One of the most significant benefits of online work is the flexibility it offers.

Employees get to create their schedules and keep a decent work-life balance, and this freedom in turn leads to happier employees and increased productivity.

Despite so many managers worrying that being at home would simply enable employees to slack off more easily, a study by Stanford University found that remote workers are 13% more productive than their office-based colleagues, proving that if you can place that trust in your staff to manage their own time well, you’ll be rewarded with a better return.

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Remote work also levels the playing field for people who live in areas that typically have lower-than-average wages or not as many opportunities, as it means they can potentially work from anywhere and break free of geographical constraints.

Challenges and Solutions

As much as we all love taking part in Zoom calls in pajama bottoms whilst having a home-brewed coffee, flexible working isn’t all rosy.

One major concern with remote work is how to maintain security and privacy while working from home.

It would be easy to assume that working online from home would remove any privacy concerns, but VPNs are still important for encrypting your data and masking your IP address.

By using ExpressVPN for routers, the benefits are built into the Wi-Fi, ensuring that sensitive company information is always inaccessible to hackers.

Another challenge in remote work is how to keep staff engaged and keep in touch in a natural and fun way.

Communication tools like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams can play a part, but they shouldn’t aim to fill the gap.

While you may never be able to recreate those casual water-cooler moments at home, regular phone calls and face-to-face meetups are always going to promote stronger connections, so make time for them where you can and don’t just rely on a weekly Teams call to create the same connection.

Embracing the New Normal: The Future of Remote Work

We’ve all had a taste for remote working now, and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a return to the days when we all sat at a desk waiting for the clock to tick around to 5 pm.

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Companies need to accept this and embrace the change if they want to attract and keep the best people.