By Flavie Morin & Teo Rodriguez, Unsettled Team
From small startup teams to multi-billion dollar businesses like Twitter, Slack, Amazon and LinkedIn, companies around the world are facing a difficult choice when it comes to remote work policies; how do we adapt to this new reality, for 2021 and beyond? Do we stay fully remote, develop a hybrid model, or simply go back to our old ways of working – if that’s even possible.
Up until now, companies had no “choice” – the Covid-19 pandemic forced companies to triage a temporary remote solution to ensure the survival of their businesses. Yet in the process, many companies have realized this change could present significant longer-term opportunities for the future of their business, and the future of their teams.
This means that, on a truly global level never before seen, one fundamental pillar of our lives – work – is changing; and thus challenging many of us to rethink and redesign our lives.
This evolution, and its implications, is neither quick nor easy, for both sides of the equation of employers and employees.
Here at Unsettled, we’ve been thinking about the future of remote work since our very creation. As a fully remote, globally distributed team that has led over 100 coworking and lifestyle design retreats around the world for people re-thinking and redefining their relationship to work, we’ve been actively on the forefront of defining and creating this future together with our community.
And so, in this time of uncertainty, in true Unsettled fashion, we set out to ask 40+ experts a single unexpected, contrarian question:
“What is one thing that is being overlooked in today’s conversation around the future of remote work?”.
We gathered and analyzed all answers from our Future of Remote Work Report and summarized what our thought leaders shared with us. The insights focus on different aspects of the remote work environment such as People, Management and leadership and the Work/life transition brought by this change.
Going remote is not something that can be done overnight, and it takes time to build a new work environment which is suitable for everyone.
To succeed in this remote work transition, whether it is for companies or employees, everyone needs to adopt (and adapt) a remote mindset, and this starts with training, guidance, empathy, flexibility, trust, communication and many more.
For so long, we have built our lives around our jobs, for example, by optimizing their distance and time spent on commuting to their office. Now, we have the opportunity to redesign our lives, create more flexibility at work, and have control over our time to decide where and how we want to live.
Yet just like everything, there are both rewards and pitfalls. As the experts in our report highlight, it is also important to find the balance between work and life, and this goes with setting clear boundaries for people not to put their mental health on a backburner.
Companies, on the other hand, need to find a balance between their needs and the needs of their teams by building trust, finding the right approach to work and productivity, and maintaining asynchronous cohesion.
It starts with strong leadership and management, but also requires a collaborative and co-created approach to our individual and collective future of work. If they succeed in building a strong virtual culture, then they can have the best of both worlds; a stronger culture and increased productivity, as well as an access to a much wider audience with diverse talent, irrespective of geography.
While an important part of the world is going through this massive change, it also brings new questions such as who is being left out? Or how will AI impact the Future of Remote Work?
To share some more insights about Unsettled’s Future of Remote Work Report, we pulled out some quotes from experts with different point of views about what is being overlooked in the remote environment:
“What is critical is that everyone involved – those who work, and those who guide others’ work – have a new mindset geared toward a continuous process of optimization. How can an increasing amount of the work we do be both more human-centric and more effective?”
– Gary Bolles, Chair for the Future of Work at Singularity University & Co-founder, eParachute.com
“By viewing work through a truly international lens, businesses can access a wider pool of global talent and provide their employees with the freedom and flexibility that remote work should provide.”
– Job van der Voort, CEO at Remote.com & Host at Remote Work Podcast
“Companies must reevaluate and adapt their communication channels, the structures of their meetings, their processes, and tools in order to have a happy, sustainable and scalable remote team.”
– Anna Danes, Founder of Ricaris & Speaker and Consultant at Managing Remote Teams
“A remote world comes with the opportunity to redesign not only the way we work, but the way we live… and the responsibility to make yourself indispensable in an evermore automated world. There is no “future of work” waiting for us to discover. We are the creators of such “future of work”.”
– Paula Oriol, Business Leader & Learning Designer at Utopicus & Future of Work Writer, Marie Claire
“Much of the remote work we talk about now will fall to AI and automation. Where jobs for humans still exist, there will be a massive expansion in the physical and creative ones that can be done remotely, or where the physical production is done within a small radius of home, rather than in large centralised locations.”
– Gordon Mullan, Remote Work Strategist & Founder of Effective Remote Relationships
As we want to continue this conversation, we invite you to our live panel discussion “Future of Remote Work Panel: Where Do We Go From Here?” on November 13th. Interested in being part of the conversation/panel discussion? Register here.
Learn more about the Unsettled Future of Remote Work Report 2020 here!
Wondering how your company can take advantage of working remotely to build better culture and collaboration? This work has also inspired Unsettled to accompany teams to collaborate effectively in a remote environment. Through our customized Team Journeys™ experiences, we help companies build lasting pathways to communication and connection, where they didn’t exist before. See if our Team Journeys™ is right for you!