Written by: Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst @ The Josh Bersin Company Iwo Szapar, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & CEO @ Remote-how
Remote work is clearly here to stay. This massive shift makes an impact both on businesses and private lives. Companies in every industry are creating new playbooks, all with the understanding that employees and workers have more bargaining power than they have in years. At the same time, workers are redefining what really matters to them, where they want to live and if 9-5 job is still for them.
People want to have the freedom of choice where and where they work. We want to more intentionally design our lives now that we know our entire schedule doesn’t have to revolve around getting to and back from work. That's why we are not going “back-to-the office full-time”, nor are we neither we are going to completely give up on offices. By combining the best of what works remotely with the best of what works in the office, we can design an employee first future that invests in employee choice, yielding sizable gains in productivity, flexibility, sustainability, and profitability.
For white-collar workers remote work has become a way of life, and advancing technologies in video conferencing, scheduling, messaging, and intelligent workplace management will just make this easier and more mainstream every day. And this is forcing companies to rethink meetings, hours (the four day week is a definite trend - more on that later), job sharing, and much more.
For deskless or frontline workers, the remote trend is also real. While nurses, retail workers, drivers, and operations people cannot work at home, companies now realize that these workers also want flexibility, agency, and control over their lives. Companies are implementing more flexible scheduling tools, managing shifts in more humane ways, and offering childcare and other benefits to make work easier for this critical segment of the workforce.
In many ways, much of the tech industry growth in the last few years has been driven by this trend, so the investment in remote work tools, measurement systems, and employee experience platforms has been astounding. So this cat is out of the bag and will only get more interesting in the year ahead.
🕵️ Human-centric work models drives performance. 😓 Managers struggle as pressure increases from above and from below. 🏋️ Rapid employee up-skilling is needed, NOW. 👭 Remote Feminism: The new dimensions of equality. 👑 Head of Remote is finally becoming a hot job title.
Decoupling business results from geography is the current frontier of remote work. The next frontier — decoupling business results from linear time — has the power to transform how we design our lives, community, and society. Organizations that invest in and embrace human-centric design will thrive in 2023 and beyond, establishing a new bar for efficiency and team member experience.
New research from Gartner makes clear that location flexibility is not enough. Employees who operate in human-centric work models – where they are seen as people, not just resources – are 3.8 times more likely to be high performing. Human-centric work models encompass three guiding pillars: flexible work experiences, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.
Remote work isn't a perk. Remote work is an operating model. Operating models require structure, teams, investment, and long-term commitment. Remote work, done well, is the ultimate human-centric foundation.
😓 Managers struggle as pressure increases from above and from below.
Written by: Jim Kalbach, Chief Evangelist @ Mural & Honorary Member @ Remote-First Institute
Many companies have punted work policies to team managers - remote and hybrid work is at their discretion, among other things. At the same time, the demands of a new generation of workers have increased from below: 40% more stress, 20% decrease in work-life balance, and 15% less job satisfaction.
Middle managers are caught in the middle, without the skills and bandwidth to address this new set of complex challenges. The hard skills that landed them their position are no longer enough. We'll see a massive up-leveling of managers in dealing with mental health, relational intelligence, collaboration, and more - to the point where soft skills are no longer soft.
🏋️ Rapid employee up-skilling is needed, NOW.
Written by: Lorraine K. Lee, Top-Rated Global Virtual Speaker, LinkedIn Learning Instructor, Consultant | Ex-LinkedIn, Prezi Valentina Thorner, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Head of Remote @ Klaus Jim Kalbach, Chief Evangelist @ Mural & Honorary Member @ Remote-First Institute
The good news? A recent McKinsey and Company study showed that “developing and up-skilling” was a main focus for nearly half of respondents headed into 2023. The companies that will be most successful are those whose managers understand, accept, and embrace the importance of a virtual-first or remote-first model. When you can lean into this model and do it well, you create trust among teams, you have a larger pool of talent to choose from, and you can operate more efficiently.
Leading remote teams is a learnable skill, though it is difficult to pick up on-the-go or through emulating other leaders. Since a lot of remote leadership skills happen in individual conversations or behind the scenes, new (and experienced) managers can benefit a lot from structured programs - either internally or in collaboration with external experts. This is not a place to force every middle manager to reinvent the wheel.
One of the keys around up-skilling is a better collaboration. We’re not going back to the collaboration theater that was typical pre-pandemic in physical offices. Instead, teams need a modern set of methods, practices, and tools specifically aimed at improving multimodal collaboration -- remote, hybrid, async, and everything in between.
Research at Mural shows that people spend a lot of time collaborating - on average 10 hours per week, more in many cases - but a majority of people in our survey don’t believe they are doing it well (more on this in forthcoming Collaboration Trends Report by Mural).
In other words, there’s a collaboration skills gap that needs to be addressed across the board - from individual contributors to managers to execs.
👭 Remote Feminism: The new dimensions of equality.
Written by: Mika J. Cross, Workplace Transformation Strategist and Futurist
The “Zoom Ceiling” may become the new Glass Ceiling in 2023 – as more workers are required back to the office and for those with hybrid work policies, perceptions about the career impacts are divided by industry, gender, ethnicity, disability and those with caregiving responsibilities.
A post-pandemic survey by FlexJobs found that 68% of women preferred to work remotely, compared to 57% of men while 80% of women ranked it as a top job benefit, and only 69% of men said the same. Additional research from the Slack think tank Future Forum solidifies that flexible work is critical to a feeling of greater inclusion and an increased sense of belonging for Black workers and that 97% of black respondents in America say they prefer a fully remote or hybrid workplace.
So what are the Top 3 things Employers can do? - We have to be really deliberate about the policies we’re creating, so that we can help close the gap on some of the inequities that were exacerbated during the pandemic for women, caregivers and those workers who have traditionally had barriers to equity in the workplace. A) Invest in skills training for ALL workers on how to conduct effective hybrid meetings to ensure that remote workers have an equal chance to contribute. B) Ensure proper training for remote and hybrid teams to help identify and avoid hidden biases such as recency bias, similarity bias, distance bias and primacy bias and level the playing field regardless of location. C) Focus on enabling a variety of flexible work schedules of all kinds for in-person employees, in addition to location flexibility, so there is no perception of unfairness, between those who can work remotely and those who may have to work on-site.
Increasing the focus on an equitable, accessible and inclusive work environment will result in a diverse workforce with the requisite talent, skills and multidisciplinary knowledge to succeed. The data trends make it clear that all organizations, regardless of size, industry or sophistication, need to re-examine remote-work policies to ensure there are no unintended side effects and that we are able to close the gaps instead of widening them as we mitigate the “Zoom” ceiling in 2023 and beyond.
👑 Head of Remote is finally becoming a hot job title.
Written by: Mike Gutman, LinkedIn Learning Instructor & Remote Work Consultant
There have been heads of remote before. They were just called Head of People, Head of Operations, Head of Facilities, Head of IT. Often times all of those heads would come together to curate the remote employee experience.
My prediction is that the Head of Remote will be the person to coordinate between HR, IT, Operations, Facilities, and Legal to create a remote-first employee experience. Whether a team has that person now, or it consists of just department heads coming together, the Head of Remote already exists. Now we will just give it a name.
2️⃣ Top 9 trends: Remote-First Work Organization
📝 Asynchronous work becomes a standard. 🙋 Don't pull the plug on meetings just yet. They're still vital. 📅 But… 50%+ of (unnecessary) meetings will disappear. ☎️ Virtual communication skills are imperative for the future of work. 🤝 Facilitation is the remote skill of the future. ⏰ Work-from-Anywhere increasingly becomes 'Work Whenever’. 📖 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) will help make work, work. 🤖 AI will help us build routines and outsource boring tasks. 🚑 Navigating the trade-offs between employee well-being and productivity.
📝 Asynchronous work becomes a standard.
Written by: Chase Warrington, Head of Remote @ Doist & Honorary Member @ Remote-First Institute
Reserving meetings for personal connections and decision making, the day to day work itself will become more and more asynchronous, allowing teams to focus on output over meeting frenzies. Companies will actively discourage recurring group meetings (e.g. Shopify), helping their workforce to focus on getting things done and focus on the meaningful.
Nearly 80% of teams will identify as hybrid or remote in 2023, and the world's leading distributed teams have known for many years that to do remote work at a really high level, asynchronous communication has to be the cornerstone of your communication stack.
Large organizations waste $100M per year on unproductive meetings, and this number will only increase if async is not adopted. Teams don't have to go fully asynchronous, but they will need to move further down the async-sync spectrum as the future of work becomes the present.
🙋 Don't pull the plug on meetings just yet. They're still vital.
As mentioned by Chase, Shopify recently made headlines by canceling all of its meetings. While some have celebrated this decision, I am skeptical. Extreme measures often fail to achieve the desired outcome. Research from HBR has shown that only 40% of employees working from home feel supported by their managers.
In a work environment that is increasingly AI-powered, some things remain hard to automate and scale. Trust-building is one of them. Despite general scorn, informal meetings remain the most important platform for showing compassion, fostering connections, and making people feel supported.
Don't get me wrong, we need to rethink the way we coordinate work and eliminate unnecessary meetings. After all, there are often more effective ways to communicate such as Slack stand-ups, asynchronous feedback rounds, or video updates. But canceling all meetings is a mistake. It will harm our relationships, erode trust, and kill the joy we get from working with others. It would be sad to discuss the latest Netflix shows only with ChatGPT.
📅 But… 50%+ of (unnecessary) meetings will disappear..
Written by: Lavinia Iosub, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Managing Partner Livit International
In 2020, professionals spent 158 hours in unnecessary meetings, according to Asana. To make matters worse, the pandemic brought an increase of 13.5% in the number of meetings each person attends, even if all/ most meetings were moved online and virtual meetings are far more tiring than real-life ones. This is expensive: the salary cost of an hour-long meeting with 5 attendees (from specialist to director level) is $338!
Companies are finally learning their people are burned out by days when they spend 50% or more of their time in synchronous meetings.
In 2023 and beyond, a good chunk of recurring, unnecessary meetings will disappear. They will be replaced by: short async videos (e.g. Slack video messages or Loom), collaborative documents to brainstorm ideas asynchronously (e.g. Notion, Miro, Jamboard, Google Docs); sharing written updates via project management tools (e.g., Notion, Asana, Trello, Jira) or internal communication tools like Slack or Teams.
Teams will reinvest the time they save in getting work done, learning (more about the learning tsunami here), human/social connection gatherings - online or offline (the infrastructure for social activities for distributed teams is getting larger by the month)
The remaining meetings will be massively improved: more intentional, better planned, and better structured.
☎️ Virtual communication skills are imperative for the future of work.
Written by: Nina Hersher, Chief Learning Officer @ Digital Wellness Institute
With remote and hybrid work as the new normal, HR managers and senior executives alike are ushering in a new generation of employees, and quickly realizing the importance of virtual communication skills as a subset of digital soft skills.
According to a study by The Workforce Institute, only 56 percent of Gen Zers report feeling prepared to work with customers. This is highly concerning given that by 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the global workforce, according to the World Economic Forum. But why the lack of confidence? The pandemic removed countless professional development opportunities for “digital natives,” with impacts ranging from fewer physical working environments to changes in 1:1 meetings, mentorship accessibility, and beyond.
Beyond Gen Zers feeling unprepared is a more significant training gap related to the new, digital workplace. Many leaders assumed that employees’ existing in-person, soft skills such as communication skills would directly translate to virtual interactions, however, researchers like Anna Lomanowska Ph.D., are documenting the need for updated communication techniques in digital, social contexts. From understanding altered eye contact on video chats with clients to deciphering nonverbal cues of peers and effectively conveying empathy in computer-mediated communications (CMC), leaders are leaning in to learn the latest peer-reviewed literature from social scientists to understand training needs related to the future of work.
Research from AT&T shows that the hybrid model is expected to grow from 42% (2021) to 81% (2024). With virtual meetings and hybrid conference calls on the rise, virtual communication trainings represent the path forward to achieving a digitally differentiated workforce - engaging in both customer-facing communications and day-to-day team-based interactions.
No longer does the 9-5 standard rule our professional existence - 94% of workers surveyed by Slack FutureForum said they want to ditch the 9-to-5 for more flexible schedules.
Beyond working remotely, employees and entrepreneurs alike are embracing the concept of flexible business hours. Flexible schedules are more desirable than remote work says Deluxe's State of the Workplace survey. As demand for greater flexibility grows, companies have a choice: get on board or potentially lose their best talent to competitors.
In our work at Founders, our fully distributed team has seen how a 'work whenever' approach actively contributes to a better work/life balance while enabling us to serve clients across 10 time zones.
📖 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) will help make work, work.
Instead of relying on one-size-fits all rules, companies will standardize their operating procedures with a distributed reality in mind. 71% of knowledge workers want a central place to understand and manage their work. The team's Operating System is precisely that. It's a collective, second brain for the team, which everyone can update.
This central place describes how they work, SOPs, agreements made, collective knowledge, project status, and progress toward their goals. A great Operating System accelerates agile teams to become async-first, and find what they need without bugging other team members.
Moving from an economy of sameness to an economy of accountability, companies will give more power to individual employees with clear guidelines that can help them to make the best decisions in both the company’s and their own interest, including the definition of schedules as well as equipment and resources.
🤖 AI will help us build routines and outsource boring tasks.
Written by: Chris Dyer, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute
The potential of AI is incredible and its effects will be felt on a global scale. Businesses and consumers alike will benefit from AI's ability to automate tasks and streamline processes. By 2023, AI is expected to have a huge economic impact, with the global economy predicted to increase by over $15.7 trillion due to its widespread adoption.
AI will continue to revolutionize our lives and help us build better, faster, and more efficient routines. Chat GPT is just the beginning as we find new and innovative ways to remove the mundane and allow more time to explore, create, and innovate.
🚑 Navigating the trade-offs between employee well-being and productivity.
Written by: Lavinia Iosub, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Managing Partner Livit International
In the wake of the pandemic, 7 out of 10 people globally report they are struggling (source: Gallup) from a plethora of physical and mental health challenges. In 2023, team member well-being becomes a top priority and makes the difference in terms of higher productivity, customer engagement, lower turnover and ultimately, the bottom line.
At Livit, we are known for investing in employee well-being (and even winning awards for it). As a result, our voluntary attrition during the past 3 years has been virtually zero and our employee engagement and satisfaction scores vary between 85% and 100%.
Culture has always been important, but now become a huge competitive advantage and the biggest lever that any organization has to drive performance. All in all, even leaving aside ethical and personal preference/considerations, it is 100% worth investing in team culture and wellbeing, strictly from a profitability/bottom line point of view.
Difficult trade-offs will have to be considered here as the tech world is going through massive team and investment downsizing and increased pressure on ensuring excellent productivity per employee head, as well as smaller, leaner, more efficient teams.
3️⃣ Top 15 trends in Remote-First HR
🔎 Workplace analytics to better measure remote/hybrid strategies. 🪢 Companies invest in facilitating communities. 📍Employee Journey Mapping & Employee Experience Design. 🖼️ The era of intangible amenities. 💁 Company benefits become holistic. 🤩 Skills over education and decentralizing access to the talent pipeline. 🌊 Knowledge tsunami has arrived. 🙈 Leadership – changing roles and styles 🤝 Company culture will be finally based on trust & transparency. 🌎 Hiring from anywhere boosts diversity & inclusion. 💰 Pay transparency experiment continues. 🤗 Redefining meaningful work. 🗺 Location Inclusion becomes a key consideration for DEI. 🗣 AI will have even bigger role in recruitment. 📸 Web3 tech drives remote work engagement.
🔎 Workplace analytics to better measure remote/hybrid strategies.
Written by: Iwo Szapar, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & CEO @ Remote-how Mike Gutman, LinkedIn Learning Instructor & Remote Work Consultant
The times when HR departments or leaders measured workplace data with spreadsheets are over. Companies need to up their games and dig deeper into the multiple data points they have access to.
As it was reported by Microsoft’s Work Trends Index, there is a major perception gap between employees and leaders that could make the future of work unsustainable at companies around the world if left unaddressed. 87% of surveyed workers say they are productive at work, but only 12% of leaders say they’re fully confident their employees are productive.
It’s time tolook at large productivity, engagement, well-being data by time of day, specific location, type of task etc. Workplace analytics is becoming a trend in the future of work because it allows organizations to gain valuable insights into employee performance and organizational efficiency.
Platforms like Microsoft Viva Insights helps having such an overview would lead to a much more results driven management style. These are still very early days of not just incorporating the tools, but we will see only more platforms helping companies manage teams in a more data-driven way.
🪢 Companies invest in facilitating communities.
Written by: Valentina Thorner, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Head of Remote @ Klaus
With loneliness consistently being the number one risk for fully remote workers, companies invest more thoughtfully into employee experience and a holistic view of their employees. That means they facilitate community building among employees through interest based communication channels or meetups.
It also means that leaders encourage their employees to seek community and inspiration outside of work - a practice that is also proven to increase internal innovation.
Written by: Darcy Boles, Remote-first consultant + coach Lavinia Iosub, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Managing Partner Livit International
In this next iteration of work and business, any company can hire from anywhere and anyone can get hired for any job across the world. Work used to be a place we went to. It's now an activity and, in 2023, it's quickly becoming an experience.
Just as most customer-focused companies map their customer journey, we’ll see companies begin to mirror it with the employee journey (e.g. similarly to how a beautiful gadget isn't worth much in absence of a great user experience).
We’ll see investment in employee experience design, employee archetype research, and a hyper-focus on building a workplace framework that allows for both autonomy and connection all the way from hire to retire, focusing on key universal behavioral moments. Some will adopt a people-first approach.
According to a global survey, 92% of employers said enhancing employee experience is an important priority for their organizations for the next 3 years.
In 2023, companies no longer compete with the 20 employers in their neighborhood for an “excellent/best employer” brand, but with thousands of others everywhere around the world. Their only shot is offering a great work experience, irrespective of the product they make or the HQ the management might be sitting in (if any).
🖼️ The era of intangible amenities
Written by: Ginger Dhaliwal, Co-Founder @ Upflex & Honorary Member @ Remote-First Institute
Ensuring all employees in a remote-first work environment are on equal footing, no matter where they are, is already a struggle that requires constant attentiveness. This effort touches HR teams’ benefit packages too: benefits and perks can’t be tied to physical spaces anymore, or not all employees will get to benefit from and enjoy them equally.
But, as more businesses around the world are embracing remote work, we’re seeing new companies rise up to fill the growing need for remote-first work perks and amenities. Innovative companies like Gympass and Giftpack are offering solutions to this problem, with global gym memberships and employee gift credits.
At Upflex, where I work, as demand rose in 2022, we increasingly saw enterprises leverage our global space network as an “amenity” that they could use to please their employees and attract new talent — offering on-demand access to premium workspaces, like WeWorks, around the world.
The impact that this new era of amenities has on business can also be measured: from increasing NPS scores, improving talent attraction and retention and enhancing overall well being in the workplace. As we settle into 2023 I think we’re going to see a lot more creative solutions in this space — and companies that offer remote-friendly amenities will have big opportunities for growth.
💁 Company benefits become holistic.
Written by: Maaria Tiensivu, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Founder @ Innovation Distributed
After years of working remotely, many discovered new hobbies and ways to increase their wellbeing on their own terms. For some this meant more long walks during or outside meetings while for others it meant picking up a new hobby to keep themselves active.
Companies such as Juno are addressing the need for a more holistic view on wellbeing. Instead of offering a single type of membership to e.g. a gym (or even a range of gyms) they offer a wide range of activities and services under their benefits membership.
In Innovation Distributed’s self-awareness workshops during the past years, most participants admitted having a lot to learn when it comes to exploring the variety of approaches to their wellbeing and healthy coping mechanisms.
Holistic wellbeing providers such as Juno are receiving high praise from their users because they encourage people to try out new things without the need to commit to one type of activity.
🤩 Skills over education and decentralizing access to the talent pipeline.
Written by: Mike Gutman, LinkedIn Learning Instructor & Remote Work Consultant
Now more than ever we are becoming more aware that skills matter more than formal education. According to a report conducted by McKinsey and nonprofit Opportunity@Work, as many as 30 million U.S. workers without college diplomas have the skills necessary to earn 70% more and 50% of all workers in the U.S. are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs)
I believe that we are entering an age where people without college degrees, regardless of location, will have access to remote training programs that funnel into remote job opportunities. This is an important step if we want to up-skill our workforce to be more productive and increase communities’ access to upward mobility.
Rapidly accelerating complexity and explosion of knowledge coupled with drastically declining ‘shelf life’ of current knowledge) will continue to heavily influence how talent is attracted and engaged effectively.
Companies intentionally investing in fostering a culture of continuous learning and enabling learning with and from others on company time as a standard routine, not a perk, will get a chance to tap into the collective experience of their team and to leverage the “social capital” of their talent. And yes, as highlighted above, learning org culture starts with trust, transparency, psychological safety, accountability and thoughtfully designed and improved comms, collab and social collaborative learning routines and rituals fit for the remote first reality.
Only an intentional and consistently reinforced investment into a learning culture can translate into a desired business agility and ‘just in time’ cross-team learning, so crucial for innovation and competitive edge. Also, only this kind of environment is likely to attract top talent seeking fast growth trajectories (one of top 3 reasons for choosing to stay or to change an employer) and create the virtuous circle of boosting the so called “talent density”, that works as a magnet for the next top talent dispersed across the globe.
🙈 Leadership – changing roles and styles
Written by: Sophie Wade, Work Futurist & Honorary Member @ Remote-First Institute
Command and control” leadership styles continue to fade as empathetic leaders rise who are more effective in nurturing trust-based cultures connecting, including, and engaging distributed workers.
Leaders transition to oversight roles, coaching, and course-correcting team members with frequent updates as decentralized decision-making is necessary for businesses to be nimble—trending towards pre-DAO management and DAOs.
Adapting to rising non-routine and project work, leaders help distributed workers recognize their working preferences, identify their skills and strengths, and allocate tasks with a skills focus, deemphasizing job titles.
Acknowledging workplace flexibility is important for everyone—not just knowledge workers. Leaders increase options to give employees with fixed on-site jobs more autonomy.
🤝 Company culture will be finally based on trust & transparency.
Written by: Ryan Burke, Chief Revenue Officer @ Qatalog & Remote Expert
“54% of knowledge workers feel pressure to show they are online at certain times of the day - and workers spend an additional 67 minutes online every day*,** to show their colleagues and managers they are still present and ‘working’* according to the study Killing Time at Work, from Qatalog.
There is over one hour wasted every single day because of a current lack of trust between employees and their employers. Companies need to invest in building trust, and creating vehicles to around transparency and vulnerability to build that trust - which is difficult to do in a distributed environment.
Culture is no longer just a list of values that are slapped on a website, and there will be a rise in tools, training and processes to foster - and measure - trust in a remote world. Managing to behaviors will become as important as any tangible business result.
🌎 Hiring from anywhere boosts diversity & inclusion.
2020-2022 was a boom for Remote’s and Deel’s of the world but yet, they still haven’t successfully attracted. We are talking about the “World Without Barriers” and new visions of diversity and inclusivity, but in many companies, it’s still a lot of talking. Ability to hire people from anywhere is the easiest (is it?) tool to make this happen.
LinkedIn’s data is based on information from 10 million accounts from January 2019 to October 2022 for a broad range of industries. Some of the findings include:
There was a 16% and 17% increase in Latino and Black candidates, respectively, applying for remote jobs.
Regarding hiring, Black workers saw a 24% increase, while Latino workers saw a 5% increase.
Approximately 20% more women applied to fully-remote jobs, while the number of men applying decreased by the same percentage.
Pay transparency has been a growing movement in several industries. It is being bolstered by several widespread laws in the US. that have come into effect over the last few years. In 2023, talking about salaries will become even more commonplace — with increased media attention, employees are more attuned to how companies handle compensation.
Plus, with more and more companies shifting to remote work, being transparent about pay can help attract and retain top talent. Companies that remain open about salaries and total compensation will be the ones most likely to thrive in a competitive market.
Pay transparency can also be beneficial for employers as well as employees, it has been shown, that pay transparency can help increase trust among teams and fill candidate pipelines. Although the laws in the US are primarily focused on salary ranges for open roles, I'm hopeful that these laws will ultimately mean more transparency throughout organizations on existing pay practices.
🤗 Redefining meaningful work.
Written by: Mike Gutman, LinkedIn Learning Instructor & Remote Work Consultant
Moving towards heads down, asynchronous work that focuses on results vs effort. This means managers and leaders will have to define what this looks like for their teams and reward it appropriately. Managers and employees will have to define metrics to track progress of meaningful work and determine how much impact that work has on broader company goals. According to the state of remote work report from Buffer, 52% of employees want an asynchronous-first work policy, but only 38% report having one. Which means async work will likely grow due to employee demand.
Therefore leaders will need to continually align OKRs and KPIs (or whatever you want to call them) with what success looks like so everyone who is heads down, is driving towards that common, measurable goal. And to drive results, workers need to be engaged in it. According to a recent Gallup study, lack of engagement is costing the world 7.8 Trillion dollars. Which means once we define what meaningful work is, and ensure it is aligned with larger goals, we can stop wasting time in meetings and get back to work.
🗺 Location Inclusion becomes a key consideration for DEI
To me, Location Inclusion means valuing everyone equally regardless of where they live and work. It is about creating a foundation where everyone in your organization feels like they belong and is included in activities no matter where they are located.
It means creating equal access to information & people, equal access to roles & responsibilities regardless of time zone or zip code.
It means being aware of Distance Bias and putting plans into place to mitigate that bias. Distance Bias is our brain's natural tendency to put more importance on the people and things that are closer to us than those that are farther away. It is part of the NeuroLeadership Institute’s SEEDS unconscious bias model.
Having a location-inclusive mindset is critical in remote-first and hybrid workforce models since people will be working in different locations on a regular basis. This is a part of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion that most organizations are just starting to consider.
Recruitment is made of a lot of small repetitive tasks with little added value and AI will make them disappear for the recruiters.
A) AI can screen hundreds of CVs and select the best-fit candidates through matching and scoring capabilities using data from the CV itself but also the social presence of the candidate.
B) AI can score and rank the top talents based on selected criteria.
C) AI can automatically send personalized negative feedback to candidates according to various data points on their applications and make their experience a lot better to what it is today for most companies.
D) AI can support recruiters by using chatbots and calendar integrations to set up and optimize the set up of interviews.
With AI, recruitment will be more based on Data than it is today and it could become more predictable and less “feeling based”.
Turnkey VR platforms for education for mid- to large-enterprises will accelerate. Platforms that incorporate both AR and VR capabilities are the ones to watch. Example: ARUVR.com has incorporated full AR support to their VR platform in late 2022.
Organizations that view immersive platforms through an employee experience lifecycle will see tremendous value. Programmatic employee experiences for recruiting, onboarding, ongoing L&D engagements, and social/cultural engagements will help solve the challenges of remote work silo-ing and disconnection.
The learning curve for managers and HR teams to adopt will accelerate with full service support education. Example: Virbela.com (full disclosure: my previous team)
Loyalty and gamification systems enabled by Web3 technologies will give organizations the toolkit to better engage and both their remote and on-site employees. NFTs as rewards combined with traditional gamification awards. Immersive experiences can be implemented as mobile games in addition to full programmatic in-person like experiences.
The most innovative enterprises will engage their employees with content, event programming, and “support” resources.
4️⃣ Top 3 trends in Remote-First Operations
🏛 A wave of national remote-related tax and legal arrangements. 💰 Tax Authorities “Fork In The Road” Moment. 🤝 Timeshare office models will be on the rise.
🏛 A wave of national remote-related tax and legal arrangements.
Written by: Pieter Manden, Head of Trust & Employer Compliance @ Workmotion
Over the past 2 years, more than 50 countries have introduced the so-called Digital Nomad VISA. Initially, these VISA were meant to attract digital nomads to tropical destinations, such as Barbados, that saw their tourism industry collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over time however, the idea was picked up by many other destinations too. For countries such as Georgia and Romania, it is an opportunity to become a place where remote employees from mainly western countries / companies, can reside for a longer period of time. These employees will boost the local economy, and because the employees´ western salaries will buy them much more in their new home country, everybody wins.
As a result, it is expected that more countries will introduce Digital Nomad VISA as well as other tax and legal arrangements to reinforce their position as a go-to remote work destination. Examples of other measures are tax benefits, such as the Beckham-arrangement in Spain, or the opportunity to acquire real-estate in Italian villages for € 1. Although it generally be applauded if legislators adapt to the new work reality, there are two “buts” to consider.
The first one is that especially Digital Nomad VISA are often rather poorly designed. They may allow for individuals to stay and work in the destination country, but they do not always prevent local and/or double taxation of the individual’s income - or even worse the individual’s employer income (i.e. corporate profit). The second one is that national arrangements work for the destination country, but generally require international alignment to truly work for the nomad, its employer and/or its clients. Because this international alignment is expected to take much longer, tax and legal matters will continue to slow down the development towards the future of work.
💰 Tax authorities “fork in the road” moment.
Written by: John Lee, Co-Founder and CEO @ The Work From Anywhere Team
In 2023 we're going to continue ot see a bifurcation in the way tax authorities approach international remote work. Barbados embraced remote work and generated $100m+ in tourism revenue for the country since they launched, while Switzerland now allows border workers with France to work up to 40% of working time per year there without consequence for taxation of income. However many countries are still far behind and have a long way to go to bring their tax laws up to date with the changing nature of work.
The question of whether the impact of international remote work on individual taxes will lead to a race to the bottom remains open. Many countries in the 90's (such as Ireland) used corporation tax to attract companies, but in a work from anywhere world many countries are using individual taxes to attract remote workers. We're already seeing it with digital nomad visas. And this is just the beginning.
Demand for traditional office leases will decrease and companies will seek move-in ready spaces with flex terms that support hybrid work (43% of organizations surveyed in JLL’s Future of Work Survey 2022 plan to invest in flex space over the next 3 years).
While some hybrid companies will increase their use of co-working spaces, others will transition to private spaces for scaling and culture building. These trends, combined with landlords' desire to offset high vacancy rates (CBRE reports that U.S. office vacancy rates reached a nearly 30-year-high of 17.1% in Q3 2022), will lead to a rise in demand for time-sharing office models.
5️⃣ Top 8 trends in Remote-First Lifestyle
🧨 4-day work week goes mainstream-ish. 🎒 Digital nomadism matures into the mainstream. 👨👩👧👧 Working-from-anywhere with your family. 🏖️ Workations will become the hottest employee benefit. 🤒 Better guidance on sick days. 🏄 Employees continue to push for a better work-life blend. 🏡 Co-living growth is driven by Gen Z. ♥ Purpose over paychecks - flipping Maslow’s pyramid.
🧨 4-day work week goes mainstream-ish.
Written by: Joe O'Connor, Director & Co-founder @ Work Time Reduction Center of Excellence
2022 was the year that the four-day week moved from being a niche concept on the fringes of the future of work debate to the periphery of the mainstream, driven by the success of the global trials in North America, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
88% of leaders say that four-day schedules are working well, 67 % of employees experienced lower levels of burnout, and 95 % of participating companies report that productivity has remained the same or improved.
In 2023, I anticipate that many larger organizations will move in the direction of reduced-hour, productivity-focused working. This will create significant ripple effects across many industries, with the four-day week becoming a major source of competitive advantage in the war for talent.
For organizations that have already made the shift to remote-first working centered around results rather than presenteeism, the four-day week can feel less like a radical departure and more like a logical next step.
Pre-COVID digital nomads fell between the cracks for governments and employers alike. In 2022 we saw the mass emergence of the digital nomad visa with over 49 countries now offering some type of visa for remote workers - a number that is set to continue climbing in 2023 showing that the digital nomad movement is entering the mainstream.
In 2023 and beyond the digital nomad movement will continue to mature. Expect more remote workers to dip their toes into the lifestyle for a few months or a year. We will see more companies highlight “work-from-anywhere” and “workations” as perks in order to entice and retain employees.
Taking a year to work and travel as a digital nomad will become the “gap year” of the corporate world.
26% of digital nomads have kids and the work-from-anywhere life does not need to stop when you have family. The bottleneck is education: how can you work-from-anywhere while ensuring your kids learn and grow. The good news is that this trend is going hand-in-hand with the education revolution.
The world is changing and our kids need to learn new skills! More and more solutions are popping up to enable families to redesign their lives. An exciting and positive message for 2023!
🏖️ Workations will become the hottest employee benefit
Written by: Nadia Harris, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute
If a company offers workations, nearly 70% of US employees are less likely to quit. This is the reason why a large number of businesses consider implementing short-term working abroad policies.
According to recent statistics, 3 out of 5 employees are planning to work from another country. This clearly proves that remote work is no longer limited to working from home. The workation concept allows workers to embrace a digital nomad lifestyle for a few weeks or months. Gone will be the days of waiting all year for the next summer vacation to be able to work from an exotic destination.
Workations increase the level of employee-well being and consequently decrease burnout. It’s not just about traveling but being able to spend more time with families living abroad or working from a sunny destination when local weather gets bad.
Since the digital era is truly on the rise, the number of workers willing to change their professions keeps increasing. Remote side hustles are an amazing opportunity to build their personal, expert brand from scratch.
🤒 Better guidance on sick days
Written by: Valentina Thorner, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Head of Remote @ Klaus Mike Gutman, LinkedIn Learning Instructor & Remote Work Consultant
Now that masks have become more normalized and there is a heightened consideration for people with illnesses, employers will want employees to work from home if they are not feeling 100% or have an infection. So I think there will be some more guidance regarding paid sick days, mandatory quarantine days, and those days where you are feeling good enough to work, but are still contagious. I have not seen policies that address this yet, but managers will need to come up with some guidance. Especially since, nearly 57% feel that working remotely through their illness actually enhanced their credibility with coworkers. Not a great stat if employers want to promote wellness.
This guidance can also significantly increase opportunities and job accessibility for both disabled and neurodivergent people. Clear expectation management around availability and response times while working from home can make all the difference both for those needing to work outside the office for physical or mental health reasons.
🏄♀️ Employees continue to push for a better work-life blend, and more flexibility
Written by: Larissa Menocci, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Co-founder @ MakeTeamWork Adam Ambrozy, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Co-founder @ MakeTeamWork
According to a study by ManpowerGroup Solutions, nearly 40% of global candidates report workplace flexibility among the top three factors they consider. Many candidates across the globe desire flexible arrival and departure times, the opportunity to work full-time from home and come to the office just for necessary meetings, the opportunity for sabbaticals, caregiving leave, and similar.
Preferences might vary across countries. For instance, ‘choice in shifts’ and ‘part-time work from home’ are priorities in the Netherlands. Regardless of how flexibility is expressed in each country, candidates in general seek a better work-life balance.
This trend will push companies to leave more space for teams to self-organize and move away from fixed schedules or strict global policies to a more human-first culture. Enabling team members to adjust their working times to life needs and design their own unique work/life experiences.
🏡 Co-living growth is driven by Gen Z
Written by: Mine Dedekoca, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Founder @ Happy Work Studio Iwo Szapar, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & CEO @ Remote-how
In 2021, I put this trend in my book “Remote Work is The Way” as the up & coming. At that time I named it “Co-living: Living in communes 2.0.” Two years later, it’s getting the momentum but we are still far from becoming mainstream.
Generation Z wants to aspire to acquire property and utilize scarce resources in a responsible manner. To achieve this, they seek to pay only for the amount they use a property, rather than investing large sums of money to purchase it outright
They believe in co-creation and collaboration. They like to interact with like-minded people and co-create together with their community.
Two main groups drive this:
Remote-First Nomads - a person who completely abandons the idea of maintaining a home base, lives minimally from a suitcase, and moves from place to place on a constant adventure. This variant may be the most famous type of remote worker (no thanks to the Instagram-driven stereotypes of 20-somethings building businesses from Bali swimming pools) but also the most rare, as personal circumstances and professional responsibilities rarely offer this kind of freedom for anyone other than self-employed freelancers and the occasional lucky full-time employee.
Remote-First Slowmads – people who move from one location to another for longer stretches, living a "normal" life (rather than a "vacationer" life) in each new spot. This is great for people trying to avoid harsh winters and chase the sun year-round, or who find inspiration from new surroundings. Many slowmads may retain a home base in their home countries, but much of their life is outside of that.
Co-livings like Outpost or Selina are perfect solutions for them, but there is a huge market to build “co-living villages” where people would live permanently or for some parts of the year. Because of the complexity of such an idea, it’s very early on the market but some projects are promising like Digital Nomads village in Madeira or Brazil.
♥ Purpose over paychecks - flipping Maslow’s pyramid
Written by: Lavinia Iosub, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & Managing Partner Livit International
For countless people across the globe, living through the pandemic (often in isolation) delivered a strong dose of perspective: it caused them to sift through values, re-evaluate and re-consider them, and question everything in their lives.
Interestingly, the pandemic has threatened the base and middle needs of Maslow’s pyramid (safety, security, sleep, health, loved ones), yet triggered an acute need of self-actualization (purpose and meaning, expression of creativity and identity), which sits at the very top of the hierarchy.
The trend towards more purpose-driven jobs and companies emerged before Covid-19, with millennials in particular known for prioritizing purpose over paychecks. The pandemic fast-tracked this. The fact that purpose-driven work ensures a competitive advantage for businesses will continue to gain traction and expand to industries not usually associated with purpose, such as this real estate company.
A Fast Company article declares: “In the wake of the pandemic, purpose is suddenly a superpower”. Companies that have purpose built into their bottom line are the most likely to remain standing. Leadership will focus more on results and making the time count rather than count the time (i.e. the need to “look busy” and fill those 8 hours to justify your salary).
The future isn't fully remote or fully going back to the office. It's about choice and agency, and about all of us working from where we're most inspired, productive, and connected to purpose and meaningful work.
6️⃣ Top 7 trends in Remote-First World
🤝 Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) - a new way to make an impact. 🌳 Remote work offers an opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions. 🦉 Rise of the Gen Z CXO. 🪴 Rise of the Creator Economy. 🏙️ Migration from large cities to smaller towns. 🧍🧍 Young employees will vote with their employment choices. 🤳 The number of remote side hustles will increase.
🤝 Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) - a new way to make an impact.
Written by: Iwo Szapar, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute & CEO @ Remote-how
Despite the ongoing crypto winter, the interest in Decentralized Autonomous Organizations has remained resilient. Many see them as a way to revolutionize the future of work, and activism.
DAO’s operate in practice like cooperatives - they are collectively owned and controlled by its members. It's a virtual organization that runs itself using smart contracts and blockchain technology. So, in a DAO, there's no one person in charge - everyone has an equal say in how the organization is run. Think of it like a virtual community where everyone gets to vote on important decisions.
According to DeepDAO, there are now 10,843 DAO’s, which hold $ 11.2B in their treasuries. There are many different types of DAOs, but all of them have a lot of similarities to the “remote-first approach”: trust and transparency are they key values, people are paid based on outcome of their work, and of course - you can work from anywhere
🌳 Remote work offers an opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions
Remote work will be seen as a huge opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions through commute reduction – thus living more sustainably. It helps to rethink mobility concepts, and offers huge opportunities to relieve cities plagued by smog and traffic jams.
According to a study commissioned by Greenpeace, if we take for example just two home office days a week over 5 million(!) tones of CO2 could be saved due to commute reduction.
🦉 Rise of the Gen Z CXO.
Written by: Danielle Farage, LinkedIn Top Voice for Gen Z & Director of Growth and Marketing @ Cafe
If you didn’t know yet, we’re living in the age of social media. And content is queen. If you can make great content for your brand that feels authentic, not only can it unlock product market fit, but it can also help you relate to consumers in a way that brands haven’t before. A 2018 study that looked at brands affected by “social media firestorms” found that 40% had long-term negative consequences in terms of brand perception.
The digital native generation (otherwise known as Gen Z) is taking on this challenge in a big way. In 2022, we saw the rise of the Gen Z CMO - companies like Duolingo, Taco Bell, and Dunkin hiring Gen Zers to run their global social media.
As Gen Z is given a chance to prove that, not only do we have the ideas, but the ability to take risks, fail fast, and create viral content on social media in tune with the brand voice, I believe that we’ll see Gen Z leaders emerge in other parts of businesses as well. I’m specifically interested in how Gen Zers will transform employer branding, there’s a huge opportunity there. Age diversity in the boardroom is a good change, I’m excited to see more organizations embrace it.
🪴 Rise of the Creator Economy.
Written by: Sophie Wade, Work Futurist & Honorary Member @ Remote-First Institute
Frustration builds for Gen Zs as many Boomers and Gen-Xers continue to insist on traditional, office-based, and impact-less “busy work”. The youngest cohort grows their parallel universe channeling creative efforts and energies developing their side hustles and full-time entrepreneurial ventures, emphasizing new mindsets and definitions about “employment” and “work”.
As the world of remote work grows, the traditional draw cards of urban living — primarily proximity to job opportunities — quickly fade.
The popularity of remote work is only going to increase in the developing world, where we believe this trend is here to stay. It will, however, be slower in emerging markets such as Africa and Latin America, as cities with greater connectivity and faster internet speeds remain the easiest areas in which to work remotely.
According to global economist James Pomeroy, most of the growth in megacities across the world is in these emerging markets, so de-urbanization will look quite different across the developed and developing worlds.
🧍♀️🧍♂️ Young employees will vote with their employment choices.
Written by: Lona Alia, Head of Revenue @ SafetyWing
Gen Z and millennials now make up nearly half (46%) of the full-time workforce in the U.S., as reported by Gallup. They are also the first generations to grow up with the Internet. So they are acutely attuned to social justice and environmental movements, and when they are not, they know how to access that information and develop a point of view quickly. As a result, they will prioritize employers that align with their personal values and ethics.
According to the 2022 Deloitte Global Gen Z and Millennial Survey, nearly two in five in this demographic have rejected a job because it did not align with their values. And behind cost of living, climate change is the top concern for both millennials and Gen Zs. 75% of Gen Zs and millennials agree that the world is at a tipping point when it comes to climate change and almost half say they have put some pressure on their employer to take action.
Gen Zs and Millennials are unafraid to speak up in the workplace, are more invested than previous generations in human rights, and will notice contradictions between a company’s advertised values and its actions. A McKinsey study on Gen Zs put it well: “Young consumers don’t distinguish between the ethics of a brand, the company that owns it, and its network of partners. A company’s actions must match its ideals, and those ideals must permeate the entire stakeholder system.
🤳 The number of remote side hustles will increase.
Written by: Nadia Harris, Founding Member @ Remote-First Institute
The number of tech layoffs has shaken the global market. This has led numerous workers to consider starting a side hustle. According to 2022 data, 76% of gig workers would not quit their freelance work for a full time employed position.
More employees will look for opportunities to monetize their skills and make extra income. In the gig economy, where the end result matters most, workers will be able to make extra income.
🔥 Metaverse as a corollary playing with web3
Written by: Caitlin Krause, Chief Wellness Officer @ TRIPP | Digital Well-being @Stanford | Founder @MindWise
The term “metaverse” will become better defined and understood by people when they use it for meaningful experiences. When people have experiences that contribute to enhancing quality of life and future of work, that’s when the term “metaverse” will be better demystified and contextual.
Original definitions of the Metaverse, namely involving the 3 S’s of “shared, spatialized and social” will advance to incorporate other key qualities, as detailed in The 7 S’s of the Metaverse.
The three exponential technologies that underpin the Metaverse (XR | AI | Blockchain) will be further developed as cultural entities with intrinsic values and opportunities for collaboration and cooperation: - XR (Extended Reality)= 3D, Avatars, Communication, VR/AR/MR, Volumetric Capture, Haptics, Scent, Spatial Audio, Game Engines. - AI (Artificial Intelligence)= Computer Vision, Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM), Automated Content Creation, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Suggestion Algorithms. Exciting opportunities using OpenAI and namely chatGPT in 2023 have communities starting to understand the impact of AI to play a role in creative fields. - Blockchain = Cryptocurrency (BTC, HBAR, ETH), Smart Contracts (ETH, HBAR, Distributed Autonomous Organizations (DAO’s), Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s), Digital Land, Decentralized Finance (DeFi).
Our ability to develop “Metaverse fluency” as individuals and teams will play a key role in learning how to meet the demands of the future of work and full life flourishing. As “Web3 tech drives remote work engagement,” the Metaverse will be the place for connection. Focuses on internal connection will drive VR adoption; External connection (with the physical world around us) will drive AR adoption. “Reality layering” will change how we interact with the worlds around us and have implications for work use cases. Companies that leverage both VR and AR platforms and understand the advantages of both in concert for education, leadership, wellness, and team collaboration will have the most resilience.
Neuroscience findings and the ability to explore our inner world of consciousness will converge with opportunities in metaverse to bring us closer together, better connected to ourselves and each other. Research into creative states of flow, identity formation, emotional intelligence, empathy, and embodied storytelling, as well as wonder, awe, and “collective effervescence” are areas where metaverse development can play a role in enhancing quality of life flourishing for humanity.