The rise of remote work may have been an urgent solution to an unprecedented situation, but it's quickly proving to be a permanent part of the new normal. According to a feature from the World Economic Forum on work during COVID-19, most employees want flexibility. When offered the opportunity, 87% of workers take the chance to work remotely. Due to the competition for top talent, employers are prioritizing flexibility as a competitive advantage. However, this doesn't mean that remote work doesn't come with challenges. From the beginning of the trend, issues surrounding flexible working environments have emerged, becoming more evident as time goes by. Today, we'll go through some of the new problems affecting remote work and how we can potentially overcome these:
Remote workers will likely be first to go in recession
Amidst skyrocketing inflation rates and a looming recession, workers and businesses everywhere face an unpredictable future. LHH's thoughts on the liability of flexible work note that during the height of the pandemic, flexible work was a necessity. Now, early signs of cost-cutting during a recession seem to be directed at remote workers. Two surveys indicate that employers will likely lay off remote workers first during downsizing, as they are perceived to be less valuable than in-office workers. Fortunately, some work sectors, such as tech, rely more on remote workers than others. However, the trend is worrying. To counter this, employers should focus on a long-term view of their talent's skills — and how to continuously develop them — rather than focusing on how much time they physically spend in the office for a less bleak future of remote work.
The number of cybersecurity threats has further increased
Remote work provided workers with new opportunities and ways to approach work. With employees working flexible hours, they can maintain a work-life balance and even pursue additional work on the side. However, remote work also poses new problems, as discussed in a past Workast blog on cybersecurity challenges. Workers who connect to public Wi-Fi in coffee shops are more exposed to cyberattacks. Home devices are also seeing an increase in malware frequency, including Trojan horses. This was already a problem initially, but more cybercriminals continue to ramp up and take advantage of the flexible work format. Organizations with remote workers must invest in proper data governance and maintenance of their devices. This can start with installing a good antivirus for routine screening and keeping software as up-to-date as possible. Other advancements in security technology, such as multi-factor authentication, virtual private networks, and a safer 5G connection, are also strong measures to ensure your employees, their work, and your business aren't at risk.
Employees continue to feel isolated and lonely
Lastly, while this is not a new challenge to remote work, isolation and loneliness in remote employees are enduring problems businesses are still struggling to combat. While it's true that remote work offers flexibility in working and may be less stressful compared to the daily commutes and crowded office spaces of in-person work, working from home can become lonely if you don't have the proper outlets or blur the lines of your work-life balance. Loneliness is the biggest struggle workers face, according to an article on remote work loneliness from The Atlantic, along with other hurdles such as collaboration and communication. A study also found that full-time telework increased feelings of loneliness over office work by as much as 67%. Employers must support and boost employee engagement even when teams work remotely, as higher levels of loneliness can result in mental health conditions, which can decrease productivity. Humans are social animals, so we'll all benefit and grow from exchanging ideas or small talk. To streamline employee communication over Slack, check out Workast today and make teamwork a breeze for remote employees.