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4 Tech Trends That Will Influence Remote Work in 2021

4 min read

In 2018, the World Economic Forum predicted that by 2022, companies will decentralize operations, hire more contractors for specialized roles, and employ remote teams. 

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. This forced companies to adapt to the new reality of remote work a full two years earlier than they expected. Businesses of all sizes were forced to prioritize investment in collaboration tools given that remote work was no longer a choice. Now, you’re starting to see employee recruitment pages advertising globally, where at one time everything was more hyper local. 

In a post pandemic world, tech shapes your ability to manage a remote team toward achieving business objectives. 

A deep understanding of those tech trends will inform your approach toward managing your remote team to overcome the various challenges presented by this unique working environment. 

Here are four tech trends that will influence remote work through 2021 and beyond. 

1. Increased VPN Use

Up to 44% of employees have colleagues who work remotely in full-time positions while they work from the office. 

In such hybrid work environments, remote team members need the same safe access to company systems. That means they need a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, to secure company data. 

Remote team members also face challenges from censorship in countries like China and Russia that have restrictions placed on internet use. A good VPN can allow them to work without unnecessary government interruptions.

Overall, having reliable data center infrastructure in place has proved to be essential for a remote work environment. Accessing company data stored in the cloud requires speed and security in data processing. 

2. Rise in automation

Today, 37% of employees are working for more than 40 hrs per week, due to administrative tasks. 

In the future, automated order processing will improve efficiency and save time in ecommerce stores, replacing the error prone spreadsheet-based order processing system that many still use today.  

In a remote work setting, automated administrative tasks could include managing key processes, such as invoicing through email

When you consider communication delays that occur due to remote work forces operating in different time zones, you’ll find that these processes take more time. This can cause unnecessary friction and project delays. Automating business processes like these can help to solve this issue.

Automation can also be used for managing Human Resources related tasks for an employee pool that spans the globe. While onboarding, you want to make sure that your new hires have all the information they need to provide a seamless experience that will let them hit the ground running. In general, you can automate your business for various reasons, but the main goal will be the same-more productivity.

Using onboarding workflows, you can deliver that experience, while 43also speeding up processes such as electronic signatures and contract approvals to save time for everyone involved. 

 3. An increase in AI usage

Over the years, chatbots have evolved. They are now capable of understanding what users are saying to better provide more meaningful responses. That’s all thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

As a result, 71% of marketers want to use their AI capabilities to deliver great buying experiences to customers. This can include providing personalized responses to questions that customers ask. 

While 65% of remote workers report that they feel more productive as compared to working in a company office, integration of AI in remote roles such as customer service is a force multiplier.

In addition to improving personalized experiences, chatbots allow customer service agents to focus on issues that AI can’t handle, by taking the easy FAQ related tasks off of the agent’s plate.

As a result, customer service agents solve bigger issues faster, leading to an improvement in the overall quality of customer service that they deliver.

4. Reliance on digital tools for organic growth

Since COVID-19 struck, small and medium sized businesses have had to find alternative ways to interact with customers due to canceled events and lockdowns. 

Many SMBs relied on live interactions and live events to reach potential customers. But in our modern climate, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to when those live events will resume. 

Buyers have also changed their content consumption and purchasing habits. They’re spending more time on digital channels, shopping online to protect themselves from COVID-19. 

To survive through the pandemic while also meeting the needs of their customers, businesses have had to use digital channels to drive organic growth and reach their audience. 

As a result, more companies are open to hiring marketing specialists that will help them increase visibility, while generating leads and customers. 

For example, content consumption has gone up while people have been stuck at home. 

As a result businesses have to create more content to reach those potential customers. But the need to create high-quality content has also increased. 

To stand out in a field of competitors, you want to hire subject matter experts that will help you create quality content. As you look for them, geographic location might be the last thing on your mind. It’s more important to know that the people you hire will help you deliver on business objectives.

A recent study by StuDocu found that over 60% of Gen Z students surveyed are eager to find a job now and 66% are looking for employment outside of their chosen field. This is a valuable opportunity for companies to attract young talent with fresh content ideas. 

In Conclusion

Technology was always going to influence remote work. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated that transition. 

While technology has made it easier for businesses to adapt to these unprecedented times, different needs and challenges in remote work require continuous evolution if you want to stay ahead of the curve.

To keep up with changes that can improve the efficiency of remote work environments, business owners must be open to change. They need to commit to building thriving remote teams while using technology that will make it easier for those teams to work, stay productive, and deliver results. 

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Vikas Kalwani is a product-led growth hacker and B2B Marketing Specialist skilled in SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media Marketing. He works at uSERP and is a mentor at 500 Startups.

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