Many of you have already felt the tipping point toward remote work. More people within your networks may be working from home (or elsewhere!) than ever before.
The cultural shift toward remote work has certainly been covered more frequently by international media: it represents a burgeoning global economy, and it is increasingly considered a “game-changer” by company leaders and founders in terms of its cost savings and global hiring pool. Moreover, there’s all of the incredible benefits for the environment and the “little guy”—employees who now enjoy greater work/life balance, less stress, and more time for hobbies, exercise, and loved ones.
If all of this isn’t reason enough to convince you that remote work is flying full steam ahead, take into account the remote work predictions I made for both 2017 and 2018 that have largely come to fruition.
Now it’s time to look ahead to what 2019 may have in store:
1. More companies will transition to a remote-only environment.
Now that it’s far less of an eyebrow-raising prospect, businesses both large and small will weigh their options and choose to have either fully distributed or (for those only in the initial stages) entirely remote-first teams. Technologies exist to support remote work across a variety of industries, and there are plenty of trailblazers who have set examples by sharing their own remote journeys. Building strong teams through professional development opportunities and healthy internal cultures is no longer an opaque process; today, leaders can find an array of resources and lessons learned in company blogs and remote-focused forums.
2. As a result, we’ll see consultants and experts cropping up to support them.
These are uncharted waters for many organizations, so seeking out guidance and advisory services are a given. This represents a major emerging business opportunity; take a look around, and you’ll see that there are training programs, retreat services, certifications, online courses, and coaching firms that are only now beginning to be built to help companies go remote. Those who cater to niches in waiting-to-be-disrupted fields like HR, learning and development, and operations will be especially poised for dramatic growth.
3. Interest in location-independent roles in rural areas will spike.
Not only can remote work help to regentrify economically depressed areas, it can serve to plug the “brain drain” many towns and communities encounter, as younger populations could conceivably return or even move in anew post college. When professionals have access to competitive job opportunities regardless of their home base, exciting things happen. Demographics begin to shift, startups are more apt to spring up, and those who may have left might stay put, raising families in agricultural enclaves or post-Industrial areas. What better way to usher in a period of prosperity outside of pricey close-in suburbs and city centers?
4. Remote work will be viewed as a retirement alternative.
At one point, leaving the workforce for a life on the golf course, traveling the world, or visiting with the grandkids was viewed as the pinnacle of achievement. Today, many baby boomers and even those in the preceding silent generation are leaning toward staying involved. While this could include mentoring or volunteer activities, it may also entail part-time or freelance remote work. Their hard-won insights and expertise can benefit a new crop of organizations as a means of giving back, while enabling would-be retirees to maintain business connections and worthwhile income streams.
5. Organizations and individuals will double down on engagement measures.
Loneliness and disenfranchisement have both long plagued remote professionals. Therefore, maintaining a sense of community while working at a distance will remain paramount in 2019. To ensure low turnover and high employee happiness, companies will seek out resources and products that keep teams connected without feeling burnt out. Meanwhile, professionals will invest more time participating in both face-to-face events and digital networking efforts—in order to stay on the cusp of their fields as well as to build a robust circle of contacts.
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