Working from home was once a luxury for the lucky few, but in recent years, it seems like everyone has gotten a taste of life without a commute. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started — when traditional offices shut down and companies learned to adjust — many professionals have discovered the perks of going virtual, otherwise known as going remote.
Nowadays, the phrase “remote work” is easy to find on every job board. For some job seekers, it’s a benefit that’s just as important as health insurance or PTO. After all, who doesn’t want to spend more time with family and fur babies and skip the daily commute?
But what does remote work mean, and how does it change workplace expectations? Let’s explore the definition and how it’s changed since the start of the pandemic.
What does remote work mean?
Remote work is a flexible working arrangement in which employees do their jobs at home or elsewhere outside their company’s office. When you spot someone making business calls on a walk or typing emails at a coffee shop, you’re seeing remote work in action.
While some remote employees have permanent office spaces, others switch up their work environment by using mobile devices like laptops and smartphones. Either way, remote workers connect to their teams using their internet connection, often using collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, and Google Docs.
Here are two different types of work-from-home setups:
1. Full-time remote work
Full-time remote workers are proof that some jobs can be done without ever stepping foot in a traditional office environment. Lots of these workers have physical offices in their home or at a coworking space, but some with flexible work schedules and simple computer setups become digital nomads who travel while working full-time.
2. Hybrid work
There are pros and cons to every working arrangement, but hybrid workers get the best of two worlds. These professionals work part-time in their company’s office and part-time at home. Hybrid work is widely offered by companies that want face-to-face time to connect with their team members, while still giving them flexibility throughout the week.
Hybrid work schedules can look incredibly different at different businesses. For example, some might let employees choose which days they work in the office, while others may require everyone to go in for specific events.
4 ways remote work has changed since the pandemic started
Businesses have been shifting toward remote work for many years, but the coronavirus pandemic made the trend surge. In 2020, 71% of people who could work from home did so all or most of the time — this percentage has more than tripled since before the outbreak. Now, there’s a whole culture built on the quirks of remote work. You can find hundreds of memes about Zoom meetings alone!
Here are four key ways remote work has evolved and how it’s changing the future of work.
1. More remote job availability
Remote work isn’t going away any time soon. In fact, 58% of Americans can still work from home at least part-time, while 35% can work from home full-time — and most employees prefer to do so. For many companies, offering remote positions has become a no-brainer way to access the best talent possible.
As businesses continue figuring out the best telecommuting setups for their teams, remote jobs are growing more plentiful and diverse than ever.
2. More fully remote teams
Some companies have more than a few remote workers — they have fully remote teams without any physical offices of their own. Trading company real estate for home offices and coworking memberships is a money-saving move that’s keeping overhead low and employee satisfaction high.
Fully remote companies also have access to global talent pools. Despite the challenge of managing time zones, this helps them get the best employees on their teams, with no relocation needed. Plus, fully remote employees often can change cities without changing companies.
3. Enhanced remote technology
If there’s anything you miss about the traditional office setting, there’s a good chance an app is ready to help. Video calls are the new face-to-face meeting, Slack channels are the new break rooms, and comped food delivery services are the new catered lunches. Every day, it seems like there’s a new startup coming out with a tool to support remote companies and meet their unique needs.
As a result, employers are investing more to support their remote workers. In fact, 38% have upgraded their video conferencing tech and 35% are offering monthly stipends for their employees to make home office purchases.
On the downside, this may mean that the not-so tech savvy workers may struggle to find their footing in the modern age of work.
4. Shifting employer expectations
If you’ve ever woken up five minutes before your workday or turned off your camera to snack during a meeting, it’s safe to say that you’re not alone. It’s hard to be productive at home. Researchers found that full-time remote work can make us less productive — at least, the way it’s been going since the start of the pandemic.
Remote work is a lot more formal than it was in 2020, when everyone was suddenly thrown into a fully virtual setting. It’s become more clear that policies — like communication expectations and cybersecurity requirements — are a necessity when managing dispersed teams. Still, we can pretty much all agree that having remote work policies in place is a lot more comfortable than having a manager breathing down our necks.
The good news is, employers are also growing less restrictive in the traditional sense. To tackle burnout, loneliness, and worsening mental health conditions associated with remote work, more employers are boosting their support for mental health and offering benefits like unlimited time off. Employers and their employees are becoming partners when it comes to carving out a work-life balance.
So, what does remote work mean today?
The definition of remote work hasn’t changed, but perceptions of remote working are shifting. After getting a taste of the work-from-home lifestyle when the COVID-19 pandemic began, many people are making remote work their priority when searching for jobs.
As a result, employers are realizing the importance of offering flexible options. At the very least, many companies have considered or implemented hybrid roles so team members can work away from the office a few times per week. Nowadays, remote work is common enough to be considered a norm, especially for white collar roles.
Remote work isn’t without its challenges (how much longer will we have to ask coworkers to mute their mics on Zoom?). However, it’s fair to say that it’s the future of work in many industries — and as technology evolves, the challenges remote workers face may lessen.
Make Every Remote Meeting Count with Anchor AI
So what does remote work mean? It’s a working arrangement that gives employees the freedom to work from home (or anywhere with internet). While remote work looks a lot different than it did before the coronavirus pandemic — and even early into the pandemic — it’s still a highly sought work perk that can attract many job seekers.
The transition toward the world of Zoom meetings doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be easier than meeting in-office ever was. With an automated note-taking tool like Anchor AI, you can get transcriptions of every Zoom call you jump into, complete with action items, time stamps, speaker identification, and more. Try out the beta version now to start taking meeting notes hands-free.