4 predictions for the future of remote work. The COVID-19 pandemic has pivoted much of the American workforce to telecommuting. What does the future of remote work look like in a Post-COVID world?

According to the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of workers who can work from home are. What’s more, 54 percent of those workers have expressed a desire to continue to do so, even after the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

The transition to a primarily remote workforce hasn’t been seamless for all organizations, but many employees have come to rely on the increased flexibility and comfort of working from home. Now, with an end to the pandemic in sight, workers are urging their employers to consider new, long-term remote work solutions — and many employers are listening. 

As the conversation around telecommuting grows, here are four predictions for the future of remote work:

1. For many organizations, the hybrid work model is here to stay.

Remote work certainly has its benefits: zero commute time, increased flexibility, and the ability to connect team members who might otherwise work across the country, to name a few.  However, employers and employees seem to be on slightly different pages when it comes to whether or not full-time remote work could really benefit their workforces.

According to a PWC survey from January 2021, 55 percent of employees would prefer to be remote at least three days a week after the pandemic. On the other hand, 68 percent of employers said a typical employee should be in the office at least three days a week. The likely outcome of this dissonance? A new and improved hybrid work model that strikes a balance between complete remote work and time in a physical office.

2. An increase in temporary workers and freelancers is likely.

According to an Upwork survey from June 2020, 59 million people had done freelance work at some point in the past year. Among those respondents, 12 percent only started during the pandemic. Freelance work has long provided employees with needed flexibility and for those out of work, it can be an excellent way to build stability and earn extra cash.

The adaptability of remote work means the pool of freelancers has grown significantly because of the pandemic. For employers, freelancers can be an efficient way to complete tasks without having to onboard a full-time salaried employee. Plus, remote teams mean freelancers can be found in areas outside of where an organization might be headquartered.

3. Cybersecurity will become more important than ever.

If organizations incorporate remote work into their long-term plans, then it’s likely remote security will play a bigger part in daily work than ever before. In fact, we’re already seeing this. According to Cisco’s Future of Secure Remote Work, 97 percent of American organizations already made changes to support remote work. An additional 82 percent said that cybersecurity is extremely important or more important than before COVID-19.

4. Big changes are coming for physical office spaces.

One huge benefit of remote work that’s hard for employers to ignore: remote employees are much cheaper than maintaining a physical office space. So, whether a team is remote full-time or is working on a hybrid strategy, corporate real estate could be in for a big change.  According to the same 2021 PWC survey, 87 percent of executives are planning on changing their real estate strategy in 2021. While many employers plan to consolidate their locations, others are planning to open new satellite offices in more residential areas. In fact, 56 percent of executives think they’ll need more space in the next three years. In short, we’ll be seeing people both accommodate for the hybrid model, but also reinvest in a better in-person experience that makes employees more likely to want to return to the office.

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