What Will Remote Work Look Like in 2021?

2020 became a year for many unprecedented acts, some ignominious and others astonishingly inspiring.  Easily the most common shift for most inhabitants of the U.S.A. was a significant shift in workplace experience.  All non-essential industries spent most of their fiscal year in some kind of isolated work situation where the vast majority of employees were required to work from home.  Some companies had already been experimenting with the notion of at-home workspaces, but never to the scale of entire workforces being kept locked in their residencies.  While multiple vaccines for the novel Coronavirus have been distributed en masse, the process of inoculating a whole nation, let alone a globe, will be a tedious one.  Some companies have already committed to further work from home status in 2021 as a pre-emptive measure.  The continued need for at-home employment provides the chance for continued evolution in remote work as businesses continue to impress upon employees the importance of social distancing and working from home.  Here are two of the trends to look for in 2021 remote work.

Wellness Above All

Easily one of the biggest trends in 2021 will be a heavy focus on employee wellness.  Employee overworking has risen over the last year.  With so many people cooped up at home with few outlets other than work, it is easy to get sucked into email wormholes or attempt to always get ahead on a project.  People are working odd hours and often past their regular working hours.  This stress is unsustainable and many companies are reporting burnout and fatigue with operating systems like Zoom.  Defeating “toxic productivity” is a consequential goal for many companies because the pressure to produce continually is counterproductive in the long run.  Even in work from home situation, there has been an increase in workers taking days off due to increased stress loads.  All this is a glaring signal to business leaders that employees are overtaxed and need to be provided new and different means of break time to allow workers to refresh themselves.

Technological Shifts

Obviously working remotely to this scale even a decade ago seemed like a risky proposition.  But with the increase in videoconferencing availability and the ubiquity of messaging apps, the means to communicate remotely provided many industries with the capacity to keep employees abreast of all necessary information.  Still, these technologies have limitations.  The inability to read body language in text and the lack of togetherness provided by video conferencing can leave people feeling isolated.  The most significant development in this front comes from virtual reality giant Oculus.  Owned by Facebook, Oculus has developed a virtual office space called Infinite Office, which will be providing a life-like experience of operating in an office environment.  These virtual workspaces intrigue industry leaders because it allows for a socially distanced space that can still feel like your around a watercooler which hopefully can replicate some of the feelings and conversations had during interstitial times of the workday.

This article was originally published at https://michaelharper.co/

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