Remote Work Update – 2021

Remote Work Update – 2021

A year ago, we were all adapting to what was being deemed “The New Normal.” Thousands of on-site positions were moved to home offices at a moment’s notice.

One thing we heard, over and over again, was how much easier the transition had been than was expected. The infrastructure and available tools had allowed positions that would’ve never been considered right for remote work to move to 100% at home. A new paradigm was on industry leaders’ minds, where colleagues would meet via screens instead of the conference room.

That said, in the past year, we’re also seeing the limitations of remote work. The picture of future telecommuting is clearer, and it’s more varied than anticipated.

Remote meeting
Remote meeting

The Advantages

Both employees and employers discovered advantages to remote work. Most were expected, with some surprises.

  • Productivity Certain positions have proven to be more productive from home. If an employee can manage their house well, their workday is free from office distractions that can break their focus and sap their energy.
  • Overhead The immediate savings in office space were clear and real enough to offset new expenses, such as telecommuting tools (more on that down the list).
  • Geographically Open An employer with a 100% remote position isn’t bound by geography. They can hire the best talent, wherever they live.
  • Tools Thankfully, we had tools in place that allowed us to shift into home offices. Zoom became a household name. These tools have been and will continue to be, refined and improved.

These advantages have changed the future plans of major and minor organizations all over the globe, and more wait to be discovered.

The Hurdles

That said, we’ve also uncovered disadvantages that will keep most positions from being as remote as we may have predicted.

  • Lack of Evolution
    While most companies have used the infrastructure and tools now available to us, others haven’t adapted their long-term strategies. These firms will be keeping positions on-site that could be remote because they’re hesitant to move so far away from what they know.
  • Loss of Community
    Teams have lost a sense of community from not sharing the same space. While face-to-face contact is available via screens, it’s an extra step that discourages the level of collaboration needed to make a group gel. Overcoming this requires vigilant effort.
  • Onboarding New Hires
    No one starts a job knowing how everything comes together, and working elbow-to-elbow with veterans is key to getting “the new guy” up to speed. Teams are struggling to compensate, and a great solution has yet to present itself.
  • It Can’t Be Done
    Some jobs can never be 100% remote, or remote at all because elements of it need your presence at the office/shop/lab/etc. A position such as Software Engineer seems ideal for remote work, but software development is a collaborative effort. As noted above, collaboration is more difficult when everyone is at a home office. That loss could prove fatal to critical projects.

These are some barriers that have arisen. While there may be solutions to some, others are sure to surface.

A Hybrid Future

Remote work is a trend that will continue to grow, but with more of a hybrid shape. Forward-thinking companies will figure out what work they can (and can’t) carry out remotely, create effective policies, invest in tools, and reap the benefits of landing the best people in their field. 97% of surveyed workers said having remote work options was important to them. They will go to the companies who can deliver it.

PRA USA has spent 30+ years in the recruiting industry, with an emphasis on high-tech fields such as Electronics, Embedded, and Controls development. We’ve built a long list of companies and candidates who have used our knowledge of tech trends, a deep network of people, and experience through booms and busts to their advantage. Contact us to discuss how we can do the same for you.


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