The Future of Work

If you are reading this article from the comfort of your home, good, I like you already.

Now is not the time to act heroically or assume that your immune system is strong enough to deter the spread of the coronavirus. If you are lucky enough to work at a job that allows remote work, remember, many people are currently out there ensuring your loved ones are protected and well-taken care of. At MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab we are constantly celebrating innovators and empowering entrepreneurs, but today a huge shoutout goes to all medical and military personnel, scientists, and researchers for their efforts in finding a vaccine and protecting us.

I know things have been quite hectic for quite some time now, particularly with many of the workforces operating remotely and having to deal with obstacles that were never an issue like having to log-in to your corporate server. Though, this ‘experiment’ allows for some serious retrospection on how industries should prepare for the next global pandemic, a future where having a virtual workforce is the standard, and business models having to adapt to a ‘remote market’.

In this article, we study the current state of work and how to ensure you keep your sanity and productivity both intact while being in quarantine. To be clear, I’m only taking into consideration professionals who are fully capable of fulfilling their job remotely (not factory workers, medical personnel, waiters, etc.)

Some experts argue that in-person work environments are here to stay for the long run, even while technological developments allowed for some aspect of a business to operate normally. I agree that some aspects of being in a physical office are yet to be substituted with technology, but it’s only a matter of time until it no longer is cost-effective or even an option.

As employees increasingly enjoy the flexibility of remote work, corporations are adapting by restructuring their spaces to accommodate hotdesks and flexible working hours (especially if you’re a global company that operates across multiple timezones). Economically speaking, real estate costs have grown to become a burden to many businesses (especially startups), forcing them to respond in innovative ways to reduce cost and increase employee satisfaction. Also, this new model allows disabled individuals to enter the workforce and become productive members of society, in addition to attracting talent from any part of the world.

Only workers that need to physically be present are accounted for, while others can be remote as long as they are delivering. Google’s colorful campuses might soon not be enough to attract employees to ‘live’ there.

What you should do to ensure that you remain productive and motivated for what seems to be a long period of remote work:

  • Create your own routine: Set up your workstation and organize your time schedule
  • Use Slack to your own benefit: communicate and keep everyone in the loop with everything that you’re doing
  • Work/life balance: Set specific working hours and take regular breaks (even if it means calling your mother to check on her)
  • Manage your distractions in these stressful times: Sometimes it’s good to gaze out the window
  • Dress up for your day - you don’t have to stay in pajamas
  • Invest your time in learning a new skill: reading a book? Udemy? New TikTok dance (guilty as charged)
  • Take your pet for a walk (unless it’s a fish)

For the time being, offices will remain a necessity for many businesses, particularly as many employees need the structure and social element they offer. Also, humans, being the social creatures that they are, need to get out of the house and meet other people. No wonder why so many meetings are still being held while they could easily be replaced with a quick email. We enjoy the chit-chat.

To summarize, it must be a balance between the two: working from home and working remotely.

Food for thought: Has anyone created the online alternative of a watercooler conversation? I didn’t think so.

In a recent study conducted by Buffer titled ‘State of Remote Work’ (2019), 99% of their respondents said ‘they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers’ while saying that the biggest benefit is the flexible schedule.

Remote work introduces a plethora of ways to run and create businesses, posing tremendous opportunities for industries that have yet to grow like Virtual Reality and home entertainment. In short, remote work does not mean to completely isolate yourself from the world that you eventually turn into a hermit that’s sole purpose in life is to execute and deliver.

Below you could find a list of benefits to remote work both for businesses and individuals:

  • Workforce: hiring becomes easier
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Cheaper to operate

Another food for thought: Are astronauts working remotely?

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