The cat is out of the bag courtesy of COVID-19. Not only is it possible to run a business with remote staff, in many ways, it’s better.
The Work From Home Revolution was thrust upon us all in March 2020, and the first few months were chaotic. But as businesses and staff adjust to the limits of remote work, some will find the future holds unique opportunities in the months, years, and decades to come.
Why Work-From-Home Is Better
While the concept of a cohesive remote workforce began as a product of social distancing, it will continue long after personal safety guidelines have eased. Why? Because it will always be safer if there’s “air” between your employees for a number of reasons beyond the “droplet spray zone.” Less fights and less fraternizing.
Empowered employees are happy employees...and more productive!
Zero-Commute, Infinite Opportunities
The ability to “work from anywhere” will be pushed to its boundaries.
Tahiti? Sub-Saharian Africa? Antarctica?
The limits of work will be defined by internet connectivity. (Which, in ten years, should be as commonplace as electrical outlets.)
Working across time zones may present unique challenges, but it’s nothing a good scheduling app can’t fix. The same goes for language barriers. Translation applications will allow you to work effectively with team members regardless of what language they speak.
The future of work in the Digital Age will require no commuting.
Assembling a team of remote employees means you can draw from anywhere, widening your local talent pool to a global scale. Work with the best, no matter where they live!
The workplace of the future will truly be about specialized global teams that match the right person with the right skills with the right job.
And nobody does matching better than analytics.
Rise Of The Robo-Forecasters
Project analysis will drive the decision-making of tomorrow’s workplace, even more than it does in 2020.
Human resource departments will use tools similar to CRM to manage employee skill sets. This helps match the right employee with the right task. Instead of job titles, the employee profile of the future will include samples of your past work and achievements, backed by tangible analytics.
Analytics and predictive technology will continue to shape customer experiences to a point where many tasks — from marketing to shipping — can become automated (this is already happening now, but will most likely strengthen over time). This increased reliance on automation will allow small start-ups to compete on a more level playing field with large, established businesses. Crafty and the innovative business owners will be able to steal market share from bigger companies that are slow to react. The difference in customer retention will be determined by businesses that offer a more “human touch.”
What about the future of CRM? What will customer relations look like a decade from now?
Thanks to predictive AI and virtual assistants, a customer interaction may sound like this:
“Hey, Bob, it might be time for a new pair of socks.”
“I just bought these socks six months ago!”
“Yes, but based on your walking habits you might be ready for another pair. Plus, fashion trends have changed in the last six months, and your style of sock no longer gets high rankings on social media feedback.”
“How high was the sock ranked when I bought it?”
“4.5 out of five stars.”
“What is it right now?”
“2.7 out of five stars.”
“What are the current top-ranked socks?”
“Argylls and tube socks are currently trending, but our records show you already bought tube socks last month.”
“You’re right. Put me down for two pairs of Argylls.”
“Would you like sock suspenders with that?”
“Yes! Yes, I would!”
How Your Tool-Kit Will Change
Seasoned freelance employees already know that working from home is not as carefree and easy as it sounds. It requires discipline, time management, and, frankly, the cooperation of your family or whomever you share a house with.
More jobs than ever before will move online as the Internet strengthens and bandwidth increases.
A laptop and internet connection will be all you need for the work in the nearest future.
Not having a website will be similar to not having a phone for businesses and individuals. It already feels like every business out there has a website today (and this is not too far from the truth). So make sure you create your website (or app) and do not lag behind your competition.
Your printer will take on new roles in the next decade. The once humble office machine that gobbled ink and toner cartridges will become a delivery system, printing out tools, merchandise...even your lunch! Printer cartridges, as we know them today, will probably transform into more universal instruments soon (so don’t forget to sell your surplus toner in time).
We will be able to automate in innovative new ways. There will be more of you to spread around in the future, at least in a virtual sense. Your personal customer service avatar will handle customers online, while a robo-assistant will field inquiries and market to new clients.
Save Rent, Repurpose Space
Remote staffs will be commonplace as companies restructure their workforces and scale down on unnecessary office space.
Traditional office buildings will still be around in a decade, but the best of them will undergo significant change. High-tech offices in unique locations will become more common as employers attempt to draw top-level employees out of work-from-home environments.
Some employees may experience feelings of loneliness or isolation constantly working from home and crave an office environment. Group meeting places for team building will evolve to VR holographic encounters.
While the workplace of the future offers plenty of opportunities for lazy employees to goof off, it will also allow hard workers and self-starters to excel. Hard work will never go out of style, and, thanks to the analytical capabilities of AI-tech, it will be easier to notice — and reward — your hard work in the future!
A Final Word On The Future
Good business leaders will be able to merge on-site and remote workers seamlessly to complete projects. Teams of workers, with skills matched to specific projects will be assembled by AI-driven software.
There’s a good chance many of you will have a robo-boss; a virtual administrator that collects and evaluates your work. If it’s programmed correctly, your virtual boss will be just as wise and empathetic as your human boss...maybe moreso! The integration of human and machine isn’t something to be feared — technology is a tool to embrace.
Amy Miller, the author, is a freelance writer who writes everything related to business and productivity. When she is not writing, she is reading, watching, or listening to something about business or probably just travels/hikes somewhere.