Office working is a relic. It’s a reminder of a company’s inability to embrace change.
It’s also no longer necessary. In fact, office working is a waste from almost every way you look at it.
Tools like Slack and Notion are closing the gap to remote working. They’re helping companies experiment or completely transition to a remote-first way of working. These are just some examples, of course, and there are plenty more available, but the point stands: such tools are at the forefront of the future of the workplace.
Simply put: they’re inspiring new leaders to revolutionise working culture.
There once was a time when only a handful of jobs could be done away from the office. The technology that enables people to communicate and connect to their relevant systems didn’t exist. Without the office, they couldn’t access the information to complete their work.
The internet has evolved significantly since then. Cloud infrastructure may have taken a while to develop, but today’s super-fast fibre-optic broadband allows any desk job to be done remotely.
Companies have the option to let workers do their job at the office or at home. Some have jumped on this opportunity and their workers have a better work-life balance. Others haven’t.
But these decisions aren’t driven by the companies; it’s the workers that truly understand their influence. There were just 7 million remote workers in 2005. Today, there are nearly 20 million and this is expected to be as high as 33 million within the next five years across the EU and The United States.
The reason is twofold. First, workers don’t want to be confined to a single location. They want more freedom. Second, startups can’t compete for localised talent due to costs. Hiring employees, rent, utilities, etc is just too expensive.
Remote working is still in its infancy. People are still going to revert to their draconian ways and claim it’s an unsustainable way to work, even if they’ve never tried it themselves.
The biggest hurdle is trust. After all, how can you trust someone to do the job if you can’t watch over them?
The thing is, anyone that thinks this way fails to consider how much time employees waste on tasks out of the scope of their job description. Further, if you can’t trust your team to get the job done, why did you hire them in the first place?
The genie is already out of the bottle.
It will only take another recession for companies to realise the office is bleeding them dry. Similar to how Airbnb ripped through the hotel industry by giving the people the ability to rent their own homes, remote working will do the same thing to the office.
Companies that embrace remote working will thrive. They will attract the best talent, retain existing workers and keep them engaged, while cutting costs and boosting their bottom lines all at the same time.
Remote working will continue in the same trajectory as people want more freedom to operate remotely. Jobs have no choice but to follow the same path.
The tools referenced at the beginning will only accelerate the transition. Most people will be a remote worker within the next 20 years. They’ll be more productive, happier and find better purpose.