It might seem like a major faux pas to start making predictions about 2021, after all, how many predictions about 2020 were on the nose?
Who would have guessed that Zoom would go from 10 million users in December 2019 to more than 300 million by April, more than doubling their revenue in a calendar year to $620m?
How about Microsoft Teams jumping from 32 million users in March 2019 to 115 million in December 2020? Make no mistake about it, Covid-19 has thrown us all off the beaten path and into a digital transformation race.
In a bizarro kind of way, we have been kind of fortunate in 2020. Whilst the pandemic has been incredibly disruptive and damaging across the entire world in such a short space of time, technology has never been so well equipped to help us all deal with the fallout. I did say kind of fortunate.
But what of 2021, the new normal, the unprecedented? The pandemic has been a catalyst for tech adoption, but what comes after the credits roll?
Remote working was born in fire
In the Time Before Covid (TBC), mass adoption of remote working was but just a fantasy of many an employee who longed for more workplace flexibility. A company adopting mass remote working pre-2020 would have been considered somewhat disruptive and garnered many jealous sideways glances from uncool corporates suits crammed into sleepy, stuffy boardrooms.
All of that went out of the window this year, with remote working becoming the only viable option to continue trading for many companies.
Even as the economy kicks back up, employers will still have a responsibility to keep employees safe from further potential outbreaks, and as such, we can expect remote working to continue long into 2021 and beyond.
Major corps Google and Facebook have already come out and extended their home working policies until mid-next year with others likely following suit.
The numbers are set to increase
According to a survey carried out by US-based Enterprise Technology Research (ETR), the percentage of workers around the world that is permanently working from home is set to double in 2021. Previously at 16.4% TBC, the 1,200 CIOs surveyed said that they expected this figure to move to 35.4% of their company’s workforce in 2021.
Part of what is making this all possible is the rapid deployment and advancement of work from anywhere (WFX) technologies.
We touched briefly upon how both Zoom & Microsoft Teams have experienced explosive growth this year, but this is now the rule rather than the exception with many companies experiencing significant expansion in 2020 as employers try to keep employees productive and engaged.
At Excell we have seen a major uplift in clients expanding their remote footprint with an increase in mobile phone, laptop, and PC sales as well as investment in new connectivity and security into the home which offers improved connected into head offices that VPN is not as well suited for.
Remote working is here to stay. But it is going to look at a little differently in 2021.
WFH is so 2020
As the towns and cities begin to re-open with travelling between places also becoming the norm, millions of employees will evolve their newly found remote status into the opportunity to work from anywhere (WFX).
This process will include moving away from busy urban cities in favour of a smaller commute and working either from home or near home.
Do not fear though as this is not the death of the office, as if often been reported, due to the amazingly dramatic nature of its headline. We are simply entering the age of hybrid working.
WTF is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is made up of both in-office and remote workers. This means that some employees commute to the office whilst others work from home or a remote location. It is a flexible arrangement that allows employees to choose which option suits them best concerning maximising productivity and output.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to this method, with some pretty meaty challenges still outstanding and yet to be solved if it is to end up being ‘the one’. For example, employee wellness is currently a hot topic and understanding how to ensure all remote employees feel included and part of company culture is a real concern.
However, the extremely good news is that many business owners are now in this kind of fortunate position where they have spent much of the year investing in virtual collaboration technologies. This means that transitioning to a hybrid working model is going to be a seamless and pleasant experience for employees and employer.
No doubt there are challenges to be ironed out including maintaining a company culture and such, but now that companies are equipped with the tools and technologies they need to be more productive, regardless of their location, we have a clearer idea of what the next couple of years looks like.