After IBM doubled down on its work from home policy and Yahoo implemented its “move or leave” policy, many companies are growing more skeptical about the benefits of telecommuting. With loneliness being one of the problems commonly associated with remote work, telecommuters are being asked to return to the office. However, many companies are only making them come to the office at least once a week – which is proving to be a win-win situation for all parties. Emerging trends in “checking in” methods on remote workers whether on-site or regularly scheduled meetings show that telecommuting can mitigate its downsides by simply tweaking certain policies. Tighter market 

As the gig economy becomes more widespread, the demand for the remote workforce will become even more competitive. As the freelance labor market mainly focuses on specialization, as seen through emergent platforms like Peopleperhour and Toptal, telecommuters will be held to the same standards. Generalists are seen to provide flexibility, but specialized workers are simply more productive and intensively focused. Another major trend that will push this further is the entry of the most tech-savvy generation in the workforce – Gen Z. Freelancing in America outlines that 73% of freelancing Gen Zers pursue this line of work by choice and not by necessity. This imminent takeover will force companies to adapt to labor market demands to attract the best talent.

Training the remote workforce 

One of the key trends in reducing employee attrition is continuous employee training. This year, employee development training is being rolled out to remote workers. Hackernoon notes that employing distance learning or e-learning methods to the remote workforce can keep them engaged. But this entails better and more coordinated management styles different from that of traditional office settings. In the business world, there’s been much demand for leaders who can bring about organizational change, which Maryville University attributes to emerging technological advances such as tech-driven training methods and organizational structures designed specifically for remote workers. Balancing between self-guided and interactive learning methods work well with upskilling telecommuters without compromising productivity. As new opportunities open for remote leaders who are up to the job, so do many new challenges. 

Emerging tech tools 

Efficient telecommuting relies heavily on clear communication. This is why emerging technologies will take center stage in the further development of the workforce. Fast Company asserts that the use of virtual reality in conferencing and augmented reality in communications will be more widespread this year. As communications technology becomes more efficient, the need for an office space will soon become a thing of the past. Another key feature in remote workforce trends this year is the intense focus on cybersecurity. Remote teams pose a vulnerability, which companies can no longer afford to overlook. With the advent of data protection laws and rise in cybercrimes, companies will have to invest in keeping their data security airtight. 

Institutional support for telecommuting 

While there are mixed views on the issue of regulating remote work and the gig economy, institutional protections and policies will be a key trend this year. In more than 30 states in the U.S., policies are being negotiated to afford employees the “right to choose to work remotely”. This huge leap will more than likely speed up the rise of telecommuting in the U.S. 

Exclusively written for by JBrand