2021 Remote Work Trends

remote work trends

As 2021 begins to come to an end, it’s clear that the shift towards remote working will remain. Companies continue to be hesitant around bringing employees back in full-time, and employees are similarly reticent to come back to the office.

Nevertheless, working remotely offers many benefits, and many trends have emerged in its wake, signaling its popularity.

Is Remote Work Increasing?

Remote work trends in 2018 and remote work trends in 2020 have seen a dramatic increase in the US and globally. As lockdowns continue and offices remain closed, there is more remote working than in the years before.

Remote work has also increased due to the flexibility and ease it offers, with 97% of employees stating that they do not want to return to the office.

17 Top Remote Work Trends in 2021

As Covid 19 continues to remain a concern, work from home has become the new norm. Remote working has become a mainstay, with more remote jobs becoming available than ever before. Employees are happier with new arrangements and the flexibility it offers. We’ll explore some of the top remote work trends in 2021 and what it means for businesses moving forward.

1. More and More Remote Jobs are Becoming Available

Employment works according to the market, and working remotely has been the major shift this time that is propelling more change.

As more candidates and employees work from home and express a desire to continue their arrangements, workplaces have become more flexible to match that demand. Currently, it’s expected remote working will increase by 34% to match employee demand and that figure is projected to grow as we see remote work become a new norm for many.

2. The US is the Top Country in the World for Hiring Remote Workers

For remote workers seeking opportunities, it seems that the United States continues to dominate when it comes to remote hiring practices, with over 70% of remote job listings originating from the US.

With so many industries and niches to choose from, potential and current employees have a lot more options in the US when it comes to employment and potential jobs. Plus, the US offers a lot more freedom to move into new sectors, giving workers a chance to try out new skills and take a new path if need be.

3. Cybersecurity Has Become a Greater Concern for Businesses with a Remote Workforce

40% of organizations indicated a worry around cybersecurity risks when working from home. To rectify this, measures such as cybersecurity training, robust measures such as VPNs, and building awareness around compliance and security across the board.

With more and more employees working from home and in various destinations, there has been an increased focus on cybersecurity. Companies must balance flexibility with security, ensuring that employees can access files and work with teams from anywhere in the world – without compromising security.

Firewalls, VPNs, and other measures are now being implemented to ensure that security is not compromised, especially as workers move to new locations and lead a more nomadic lifestyle while working. Organizations are also spending more to provide additional cybersecurity resources and training to employees that can be implemented in home offices to provide an extra layer of security.

4. Workers are Happy to Work from Home

One of the worries when remote working was initially suggested, employers suggested that workers would not like working from home. There would be too many distractions, collaborations between team members would be hampered, and it was important to come to the job site to get work done.

As it turns out, it’s simply not true! 83% of workers say that they are happier to work from home, as they do not have to commute or come into the office. The ability to work from home makes people happier and more relaxed it seems, as the pressure from the office environment is no longer present.

5. Work Times Have Become More Flexible

One of the challenges of working in an office space was the lack of work life balance. With so much time spent in the office, it was difficult to find room for hobbies, interests, or even just a small break. However, as the world moves towards remote working, there are many benefits.

Employees enjoy a more flexible work model and can change the way they work to suit their working style and life better.

Starting early and finishing late has become a more popular option, or employees may simply log on and off during the day as needed as they have the ability to balance other responsibilities as well.

6. Reskilling and Upskilling are More Important than Ever

For both employees and employers, remote work has opened up more possibilities in terms of career paths. For employees seeking more flexibility and freedom in their work-life, reskilling and upskilling have become a growing trend as they search for new work.

That can include learning new skillsets to add to their resume or building on current roles to become more competitive against others.

There has been an increase in freelance work, and more workers are upskilling in areas such as copywriting, web development, programming and more to some more room to explore new paths.

7. HR Practices Have Been Reshaped

Another trend that is starting to emerge is how HR practices are being reshaped across different organizations. As more work shifts online, companies are focusing on more training and opportunities to support worker wellbeing.

HR resources are also vital in ensuring the workplace is still a safe and happy place to work, with more attention on employee recruitment and retention.

Mental health and wellbeing has become an increasingly important initiative for HR to ensure workers remain happy at home.

 8. Async communication Has Gotten Much Better

Async communication essentially refers to when team members communicate without expecting an immediate response.

Now that there is more room for employee flexibility, team members can have different types of communication and work across multiple time zones as needed for better productivity.

Without the pressure of quick responses, employees can work on their own time and collaborate in ways that suit them.

9. Zoom is On the Rise

As the pandemic has continued, there is no denying that Zoom has become a core part of workdays. In addition, with more and more companies adopting Zoom and its recreational use as people keep in touch during lockdowns, Zoom has become a crucial tool for remote working.

Since the pandemic, it’s ranked as one of the number one tools used by businesses, with statistics showing that Zoom increased their customer base by 87% just in the first quarter of 2021 – and with no signs of slowing down that growth.

10. Virtual Coffee Breaks are Now a Thing

With face-to-face meetings no longer possible, companies are focusing on initiatives to help team members feel more connected and foster a better work culture. One of the best ways to accomplish that is through virtual coffee breaks, a meeting where employees can get together during the work day for a break and chat.

Virtual coffees are a nice way to break up the day while employees work from home, and measures like this can help businesses build better relationships among rams while working remotely.

11. There are more Productivity Tracking Tools for Remote Employees

Productivity has been talked about a lot in the context of working remotely, with many employers fearing that employees will be less productive while working from home.

To help alleviate this issue and ensure that employees work the same amount as in the office, more productivity tracking tools are being used.

Productivity monitoring measures can include time tracking apps, computer activity levels, and more to ensure that employees keep each other accountable.

12. There is a Greater Work from Anywhere Mindset

As more work shifts to remote, many employees and employers are beginning to look at the role of working anywhere, rather than everyone in one location. There are more digital nomads in the midst, which essentially refers to remote workers that are not tied to one location.

Digital nomads can travel the world and work from anywhere, and many are choosing to live in cheaper international countries to gain a different experience while still availing work opportunities.

13. More and More Companies Plan to Shift to Remote Working

With so much focus on remote working, and the clear benefits such as less stress and more opportunities, more companies are willing to make the shift to remote working.

As the trend continues, companies are continually looking for ways to boost the employee experience and attract talent – which means offering more flexibility and advertising new remote policies in job advertisements.

14. Shared Home Offices are Increasing

Remote working has meant that the home office has taken a lot more importance. The line between personal and professional lives has blurred a bit as employees have to share space with partners and other people, such as flatmates.

More than one person in a household is now working, whether at the same time or at different times, but it does mean having to share space and compromising. A

s a result, employees are spending more on their home office, investing in design, furniture, and equipment to make it feel like an office and get in the right mindset before their next meeting.

15. Remote Working is Here to Stay

One of the fears, when remote working was initially introduced, was that employers would try to go ‘back to normal’ as soon as the pandemic was over. Luckily, that has not been the case.

As more companies see the fact that employees are happy and there are benefits of remote working, there is a willingness to continue in this same way. As a result, most organizations have decided that remote working is here to stay, with limited time in the office depending on what employees need.

16. Performance Management Has Changed

Remote working has presented challenges for performance management, as visibility is a bit different with everyone working from home. Managers and organizations have had to change the way they evaluate performance.

Currently, 64% of organizations reporting increased frequency of engagement in ongoing check-ins with managers during the pandemic.

Moreover, employees have also been more engaged, with over 50% of managers reporting that employees have been participating in check-ins and goal management.

17. Coworking Spaces are Increasing

For many, working at home has proved somewhat difficult. While it’s a more comfortable environment, many want dedicated office spaces that are flexible so they can distinguish between their professional and personal lives. That’s why more coworking spaces are emerging so that employees can have an office setting when they wish and get a workplace feel without always having to be in the office.

Using a coworking space can also yield additional benefits since they can meet other remote workers and network with other company members more casually. Again, research supports this, with 20% of corporate workers continuing to use a coworking space at least once a week – a 14% increase compared to 2019.

What is the future of remote working?

A simple conclusion that is supported by all of the research and trends is that working remotely is here to stay. Companies and employees have found greater freedom and flexibility in the practice as teams adjust to this new normal, and it’s been beneficial across the board. In fact, 42% of remote workers indicate they will continue to work remotely in the future as well.

Productivity levels have remained steady, and the nature of work has become easier for companies and employees to manage. Remote work makes it easier to connect with teams at an individual pace and complete work in a more peaceful setting. For employees that miss the office setting, coworking spaces can help bridge that gap as a remote work setting without losing flexibility.

Is working from home a trend?

Working from home is a trend that is here to stay, most likely. Although more people are participating in work from home than usual, this number may decrease somewhat in the future as more offices decide whether to return to fully return to the office. However, remote work is will definitely continue to be a popular choice for many.

How much is working remotely worth?

The average person can save considerably through remote work. In terms of salary levels, working remotely can have different worths depending on the nature of the work and experience level. Remote working can be more valuable as workers can save time and money on commuting and other associated expenses that come with working in an office environment.

Is working remotely worth it?

There is no question remote workers feel isolated to a certain degree. However, for many, remote working is absolutely worth it. It can save time and money on commuting, and it can also be a more relaxed and flexible way of working. In addition, companies can collaborate in new ways, and employees can enjoy the experience of working from anywhere they like.

Image: Depositphotos

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.