Working from home: A guide to remote working in 2021

November 25, 2020

5-min read

Paris Stevens

"Even the most experienced remote workers can find the work-life balance a challenge, especially when setting healthy routines and boundaries. And yet we’re at the beginning of a global shift that will change workforces as we know them."

We’re finally waving goodbye to 2020 but there’s one thing that’s here to stay; remote working. We’re big fans of the virtual world here at Wildgoose, however, we appreciate that navigating it in the current climate can be tricky.

It’s also easy to assume that we’ve mastered the art of working from home. By now, you’re probably used to team Zoom calls, the 30-second commute and answering the phone in your favourite slippers. You’ve also learnt to communicate in GIFs and plan your work outfits from the waist up. The only mystery seems to be the person who forgets they’re on mute during every meeting (spoiler alert: we haven’t figured that one out either.)

But whilst it isn’t exactly a new concept, are we really prepared for the future of remote work in 2021 and beyond? And what can teams do to better adapt to the virtual workplace in the long-term? If you’re looking ahead into the new year and wondering how to better prepare for remote life in 2021, here’s our remote work guide to help.

Work from home trends in 2021

Mental health

Even the most experienced remote workers can find the work-life balance a challenge, especially when setting healthy routines and boundaries. And yet we’re at the beginning of a global shift that will change workforces as we know them. According to one survey, the percentage of permanent remote workers is expected to double in 2021. With that said, we’re already seeing that social isolation, loneliness and burnout are growing concerns for virtual teams. To combat this, more organisations are investing in employee wellbeing in the form of regular virtual socials, chat platforms and online team building. After many months of remote working (and even more ahead of us), we predict that mental health will continue to be an important priority.

Virtual water cooler

Remember the good ol’ days of chin wags at the coffee machine or water cooler? You may even find yourself missing that colleague who was always using your favourite mug. You’re not alone. Our 2020 Working from Home survey revealed that 56% of employees surveyed miss social contact with their colleagues, while close behind this, 52% miss spending time with them face to face. As much as work is about getting things done, it’s also about creating a bond with your teammates. Virtual water coolers are online spaces where employees can discuss anything but work (hobbies, interests, home life, family etc.) It might not feel the same as face-to-face interaction but it does bring people together and injects fun into the work day. Communication is key and that’s why this trend is growing - virtual water coolers could be commonplace within remote teams in 2021 and beyond.

Tips for motivating remote teams

Daily check-ins

Scheduling daily calls or video conferences are not only vital for effective collaboration but they also help to build trust. Whatever form the check-ins take, your colleagues need to know that their worries and questions will be listened to.

Celebrate the small stuff

Now more than ever, our achievements at work need to be celebrated. Ask employees about their small wins or share regular performance updates to keep everyone engaged in the company’s mission. Don’t forget to encourage your team by recognising hard work or positive feedback.

The importance of team building in 2021

It’s no secret that team building activities have undergone a huge transformation in the last year. Since April 2020, we’ve gone from bringing people together in large event spaces to hosting virtual games for remote teams all over the world! What hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that team building is still hugely beneficial, even when participating through your laptop. Whether you’re already a fan of virtual team building activities or you’re new to it, we highly recommend them to help motivate your team throughout 2021. Remote team building can:

  • Combat loneliness and burnout
  • Get employees excited about work
  • Build communication and trust
  • Allow teams to express themselves

Conclusion

The bottom line is that 2021 is still full of uncertainties, but what we do know is that remote working is on the up. As well as being a beneficial strategy for both employers and employees, it’s also a flexible way of working that is revamping the traditional 9-5 concept. Whilst 2020 gave many of us the opportunity to go remote, we are clearly still learning the ever-evolving trends and practices of the virtual world. Even though technology now plays a large role in our working lives, we believe the best way to prepare for remote life in 2021 is to adapt by investing in people and engagement.

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