Remote Work and Technology

The Future of Work is Here


By Kimi Noori

Companies were and still continue to be caught off guard with being able to conduct and maintain business during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's still surprising how companies large and small are behind in technology and business practices, which includes remote work. Most companies offer flexibility of allowing employees to work remotely every once in a while, but maintain a policy of making it mandatory that employees work in the office a majority of the time during their time with the company. But, remote work is the future of work, and it's here.

Before the pandemic, it seemed to be somewhat avant-garde for a company to build a business model around remote workers. Brick-and-mortar offices are still prevalent, and for most industries brick-and-mortar is necessary, such as healthcare. It's no surprise most customers are able and prefer to conduct business remotely from the comfort of their own homes, on their own schedules, using technology readily available on the market. Companies mainly implemented these technologies to save on their overhead expenses rather than for the convenience of their customers. Nevertheless, companies incorporated a virtual customer experience into their business models and established cybersecurity safeguards to secure company information as well as protect their customers’ information, data. So why don't companies give their employees the same courtesy of working remotely?

Most companies have gone completely digital anyway, and rarely rely on hard copies during the normal course of a business day. Most companies have been hiring and continue to hire employees that are able to support business efforts of maintaining relevance with using and building innovative technology. Yet, companies still require employees to commute to work and rack up expenses to perform duties onsite when the companies have the means and technology to support remote work.

Although companies need employees equally as much as employees need their pay and experience from companies, employees make all of the sacrifice to meet the physical and mental demands of working onsite. Expenses for food, transportation, travel, attire, and childcare for those who need it make extensive dents in paychecks. Even more of an expense is relocation for new hires moving to be able to work onsite, or complete the interviewing process. And with COVID-19 still in full effect, many employees are risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones going into the office. And, some markets are way more expensive than others, especially for a family, regardless of salary. The pandemic has all but forced most companies to activate use of technology and introduce new software to allow employees to work remotely. Zoom® has been dominating company meetings for most video conferences since the pandemic lockdowns started. Employees have been accommodating their colleagues and have been very forgiving of background noises and occasional appearances of children in video frames during meetings because, guess what, most executive management are in the same boat as their employees.

Regardless of any perceived distractions, projects are moving forward and being completed. The quality of the work isn’t being sacrificed because of the remote work because the employees completing the work are professionals, and no amount of micromanagement, controlled office environment, in-person meetings can take that away. Why are so many companies against remote work when there is more exposure to risk having employees congregate in one place?

Pre-pandemic business models that failed to see risks in onsite congregation of employees are playing catch-up. Risks of onsite congregation can include exposure of proprietary files and discussions to personnel that are not cleared to review. Onsite employees are bogged down by foot traffic at their desks (distractions), ergonomic hazards, and safety concerns during their commutes to and from the office as well as at work. But too much control of employees’ onsite work habits, environment, etc. can lead to poor morale, and too little care for employees’ well-being can lead to injury.

Executive managements’ efforts to control the narrative of onsite employee activity works against business growth. During lockdown when corporate office employees were forced to work remotely, many companies could not figure out how to integrate project production, meeting schedules, and office software into their systems and business practices—and most senior employees had trouble learning how to use new software. Project schedules were falling behind, there were an excessive amount of meetings of teams working out how to move forward with their project schedules, and more meetings discussing the previous meetings, and video conference meetings just to...see colleagues’ faces. The truth is, companies had everything at their fingertips to incorporate remote work into their business models, but chose to congregate employees in offices to have some sense of control over daily activities with company information.

Security of proprietary information is not a problem because system access is always designated to credentialed employees, even in the office. And, because of tracking technology, it’s easier to monitor any and all system access. Employees know and agree to keep company business confidential when taking any job with an employer, so it doesn’t matter whether the employees work in the office or remote. If the company information is going to be leaked, it will—at least with remote work a company can keep a record of system access because employees will not have access to other employees’ devices like they would in an office. Security is high priority, but it’s not a deterrent for implementing remote work into business models because companies already have security measures in place to monitor systems and company information.

Innovative companies have already recognized remote work as a sustainable business model to move forward in the market. Remote work cuts on overhead expenses, gives employees more flexibility and freedom financially, as well as constructs a healthy work/life balance. Because instead of focusing on controlling employees’ sense of reality around work, innovative companies are providing a platform for their employees to concentrate on developing quality products and create profitable ventures for their pipeline. Remote work is the present state of work, and will continue to be a driving force for companies to move forward.