The future of remote work

“What if my team becomes less productive?” This is the question being asked by most corporate leaders, according to this Microsoft Work-Trend-Index article, “Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong?” published September 22, 2022.  This question is at the root of corporate concerns with remote work.

With COVID-19 long behind, the U.S. corporate world finds itself in a predicament. The trend of working from home, born from necessity, had transformed into the concept of hybrid work. This idea blended the convenience of at-home work with the community of in-person work, and was a major hit with employees, according to the Forbes article “Future Of Work: Is A Return To The Office Inevitable?”, published November 6, 2023 by David Morel.

These employees listed a hybrid work schedule as one of the major draws when searching for jobs, with some even willing to take pay cuts for this flexibility. This new possibility for work came at a fascinating time in the workforce climate.

According to the Forbes article, ”The Hustle Culture Has No Future—Enter The Break Culture” written by Artis Rozentals and published April 29, 2022, workplace hustle culture is dying. The idea of working hard with selfless intent to support a company has been questioned in the modern day due to the toxic work environments and mental health crises this philosophy has spawned.

As someone who has worked in a “hustle” heavy workplace, long hours and sacrifices seemed to be expected. In exchange for this, my company seemed to lord its medical benefits over us, as if that was a fair trade for the constant grind. When I spoke to my coworkers about whether or not they enjoyed their careers, most of them would respond with snarky, yet helpless, cynical responses that made me dread a career in that industry. The trend I noticed was that most of my coworkers who gave these responses were either from the baby boomer generation, or from Generation X, and most of them did not utilize a hybrid work schedule.

The millennials I worked with, on the other hand, were in much better spirits, yet I saw them at the office half as much as I saw my other coworkers. When I asked some of them why they were never there, as a joke, many of them said that they had argued for a hybrid schedule in their contract negotiations.

With a hybrid work culture, the idea of working a steady job and maintaining a healthy personal life became a reality for many Americans.

However, as the Microsoft article stated, many employers and corporate leaders are not happy with this arrangement. The primary reason for this is distrust. Many workplace leaders fear that if workers are allowed a hybrid schedule, their productivity will go down.

According to a Business News Daily article, “Communication Technology and Inclusion Will Shape the Future of Remote Work,” written by Natalie Hamingson and published Oct 24, 2023, this is simply not true. The data actually shows an increase in productivity for workers who utilize hybrid work schedules. In addition, these workers report having improved mental health, as well as a higher rate of job satisfaction.

This distrust on the part of corporate leaders comes from the idea that people are more productive in an office space where they can be monitored. The issue with this philosophy is that it enforces the traits of a toxic workplace. Many of these corporate leaders would not be in the position they are in if it weren’t for the people who work for them, so the idea that workers cannot be trusted is simply untrue.

In my experience, much corporate rhetoric centers around the concept of the body of workers being a team. By distrusting employees, employers are forgetting that it takes more than just a leader to make a team.

With all this being said, what is the future of remote work? The future of remote work is what we make it. Many CEOs and company leaders have fallen out of touch with the average American, yet their business cannot survive without us.

According to ”The Hustle Culture Has No Future—Enter The Break Culture,”, the days of workplace loyalty are over. This is not the fault of any one person, but it is due to the out-of-touch nature of the people who run these businesses. Specifically, millennials and Generation Z tend to focus much more on what a job can do for them when determining where they want to work. In addition, these younger generations have been demanding more money for their work to combat the increased cost of living.

The last ten years have proved that businesses are more than willing to reduce benefits and cut pay to increase profit, according to the Employee Benefit News  article, “Views Employee benefits are inequitable — and it’s getting worse,” written by Joe Markland and published April 11, 2022. The idea of mutually beneficial relationships between employers and employees has begun to go down the drain.

Now, to fix this, let alone to preserve the future of hybrid work, employees must be savvy and know how to self-advocate. If we do not fight for our rights as workers, boycott companies who do not abide by our standards, and lobby Congress to pass pro-worker legislation, no one else will.

The future of remote work is in our hands, and what comes next is our responsibility.