What do the five most valuable companies in the world have in common?
Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook are all pioneers of remote work. When Covid-19 struck, these tech giants were the first to roll out remote work policies – and they will likely be the last to bring employees back to the office.
While not all employees are remote at these companies, or any tech company for the matter, what the pandemic has shown the world is this: Many employees can do their work remotely, and they are seemingly just as productive.
Examining the trendsetting industry, experts predict that the decisions made by tech will have a ripple effect and influence smaller firms, as well as other industries, when it comes to the future of remote work.
Remote work can sustain – or even increase – employee productivity while lowering company costs.
The tech industry is particularly well-suited to remote work, as the majority of employees can complete their work with nothing more than a computer.
“We found that we can sustain productivity to a very high degree with people working from home,” Microsoft President Brad Smith stated. In fact, productivity of employees may even increase. As a field that thrives on fast-paced innovation, eliminating commute time for tech employees can provide them with more time to put into work efforts.
Further, the logistics of working remotely can directly benefit companies; Microsoft estimates hundreds of millions in savings per quarter due to a decline in business travel. Additionally, a Gartner survey found that 74% of CFOs plan to shift at least some of their workforce to work remotely full-time for cost-saving purposes.
While Covid-19 sparked change, technology trends towards remote work have been happening for much longer.
The 2017 U.S. Census found that 5% of Americans worked primarily from home in 2017 – an increase from 3% in 2000. In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nearly 30% of workers had the option to work from home. “Most CFOs recognize that technology and society have evolved to make remote work more viable for a wider variety of positions than ever before,” stated Alexander Bant, practice vice president, research for the Gartner Finance Practice.
Similarly, Gryphon’s Executive VP of Sales, Greg Armor, believes that many employees will never return to a traditional office. For any industry, open workspaces may be a thing of the past, and many offices may have to be reconfigured to adjust. Furthermore, just as technology developments sparked these trends, how companies use technology will trend towards favoring products that offer remote capabilities.
“At some point soon, companies will begin to refocus on growth. This includes onboarding new employees and training them in a remote environment. There will no longer be the week-long training at the corporate office for new [employees]. Robust video content, stored in the Cloud, will be how new employees receive training and tutorials to get up to speed in their new positions,” stated Armor.
This is where the tech industry will again be a pioneer in the remote work movement, as we will see companies roll out products configured to “work from anywhere” capabilities and targeted towards the remote employee and dispersed teams.
The Future of Remote Work
While the structure of organizations has been upended over the past few months, companies have realized a bit of normalcy as remote employees are able to maintain productivity, and even save companies costs in these uncertain economic times.
As remote work has shifted from a “perk” to a necessity, the world will continue to see changes in how companies function. While it is uncertain where these trends will take us even one year from now, keeping an eye on the tech industry will provide a good idea of how the future of remote work will influence corporate structure.