Developments in remote work that will continue to evolve throughout 2020—and beyond
As far as returning to the office goes, June 2020 became January 2021—and then January 2021 became July 2021. Instead of continually pushing back office return dates, some companies are implementing the option for permanent remote work. But regardless of where employers fall on this spectrum, corporations and consumers alike are grasping that the pandemic is going to impact work—and mostly white-collar work at that—for the foreseeable future. As remote work proves productive (perhaps overly-so!), businesses are investing in methods to enhance company morale, bring balance back to working at home, and assuage growing employee loneliness. Read on to learn about a few of these innovative initiatives.
“DIRECTOR, REMOTE WORK”
The hot new title entering the tech scene is “Director, Remote Work,” among other variations. As some in the tech industry have pioneered the ability for employees to work from home permanently, many, if not all companies are building some type of hybrid work model. Along with this structural redesign, there are new and tough decisions about property leases, employee relocations, tech accessibility issues, and discussions about digital project management techniques, all of which make for plenty of work for those who step into this new title. Facebook is just one of several companies that are hiring for this role, describing the new position as a driver into a “remote-first” way of working. Darren Murph, the current Head of Remote for GitLab, goes so far as to say: “I do think it [the head of remote work position] could become the next evolution of the chief operations officer.”
To help employees better delineate time spent between work and home, Microsoft cleverly concepted virtual commutes via the company’s Teams suite. The new component is a virtual commute assistant that looks holistically at employee sentiments and schedules. Its capabilities include asking employees how they are feeling, prompting them to set goals each morning (which they'll then evaluate later in the evening), and sharing task lists. The assistant can even suggest that an employee block off personal time on their calendar, and congratulates them when they complete tasks. Microsoft also plans to bring further innovation to Teams with work-from-home-friendly updates such as lessening background sounds on video calls.
PERKS AT HOME
As part of a corporate remote work renaissance, companies are exploring solutions to support the physical and mental health of their employees. The pros and pitfalls of working from home are very situational, but many companies are working to address prevalent sentiments such as loneliness. Whether by hosting digital events and book clubs to build community, delivering snacks and masks, or offering a home office setup allowance, brands want to make working from home during the pandemic better for their employees. To this end, and in the absence of their on-site dining options, gyms, health services, and more, Google and Facebook each gave employees a $1,000 stipend to help them work remotely during the pandemic. We predict more cross-industry brands will further invest in their employees’ health and productivity into 2021.