Many businesses were catapulted into the world of remote working due to the pandemic. This has expedited a considerable amount of companies’ use of remote working tools – often for the very first time. Not only this, but a number of large high profile companies have recently announced that they will be enabling their staff to work remotely long term: with Twitter and Square announcing that their employees could work from home indefinitely. This means that the increased usage of remote working tools among businesses looks set to continue.
From project management platforms, to document and file sharing apps, to communication tools and specific remote working software like the Working Den platform, there’s an extensive range of remote working tools to choose from, helping to make working remotely for businesses a seamless experience.
But what about the future? In what ways will remote working tools evolve?
The way in which we use these virtual tools (as well as the areas in which they will become more prominently used) is going to expand at a considerable rate, especially in light of the recent global crisis. Curious to find out more? Check out our guide below on our top five predictions for their development.
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A Shift Towards VR Conferencing Software
It’s hard to not have noticed the huge growth in the popularity of video conferencing tools like Zoom during the coronavirus crisis. The BBC reported that Zoom said it anticipated its sales this year would reach as high as $1.8bn (£1.4bn), representing an astronomical rise of the video conferencing tool. In fact, this anticipated amount is almost double what Zoom forecasted in March.
Such tools have provided a valuable lifeline for businesses working remotely for the first time, enabling them to hold face-to-face meetings, client presentations, check-ins, brainstorming sessions and webinars with distributed teams.
But it’s likely that the popularity of more immersive, virtual reality (VR) conferencing software will take over in the coming months or years to come. Companies like FrameVR and Mozilla Hubs already provide VR conferencing software options to remote workers, and we are likely to see more businesses offering VR tools in the near future.
Why? One of the pitfalls of video conferencing is that it can often be glitchy. It can also lack a kind of naturalness which can make important discussions difficult (who else has experienced difficulty with maintaining eye contact?). However, VR directly addresses such limitations, by providing a more immersive, real experience.
Greater Focus On Wellbeing Platforms
Another remote working tool trend we anticipate seeing is the growth of remote working software that promotes a healthy work-life balance.
Take for example the Working Den platform, a remote working tool that helps improve remote employees’ physical health as well as taking care of their mental health.
Features of the Working Den platform include a depression and burnout test, as well as tailored advice and support for remote staff. There are also guided breathing exercises, an eye strain reminders as well as exercises to relieve aches and pains caused by long periods of sitting down at the laptop or desktop.
One of the reasons we expect a proliferation of remote working software that prioritises well being, is because the number of people working remotely is expected to increase due to the pandemic.
In a recent survey, 77% of respondents from large US-based companies anticipated that the number of their employees working from home at least three days per week will increase in the next 12 months post-crisis. In the same survey, less than 10 per cent of their team had worked from home prior to the pandemic, marking a huge uptick in working remotely.
However, with the leading struggle of remote workers having been stated as loneliness and isolation in a recent State of Remote work survey, companies will need to prioritise looking after their remote employees’ health to ensure they remain happy and productive.
Remote Tools Will Become the New Norm
Many experts believe that we aren’t too far from reaching a point where using remote working tools becomes the new normal – regardless of whether staff are working at home or in an office.
The main factor attributing to this, is the ease of use of ever-developing tools, constantly expanding their capabilities, meaning that people can quickly navigate multiple tasks at once when using these remote working tools.
What this means in the years to come, is that we can expect much more frequent use of collaboration and communication tools in the workplace. This is likely to apply even if you happen to be sitting next to your team member who’s working on the same project as you.
Better Mobile-First Design
One area that many remote working tools still grapple with, is having a responsive mobile app that enables users to complete a number of tasks on their phone successfully. Whilst a high number of tools (particularly video conferencing and communication ones) can be great for minor tasks, very few are able to work efficiently without crashing when used for bigger projects.
With a predicted increase in the number of remote workers, we are likely to see a shift towards tools with a mobile-first design, enabling remote teams to carry out a range of tasks with their devices instead of their laptops or computers.
Increase in Asynchronous Communication Tools
With a huge influx of distributed teams in the past year (and this looks set to continue) we will see a rise in the number of asynchronous communication tools being developed, congruent to its demand. Why? With more and more remote workforces spread out across locations and different time zones, the need for remote communication tools that enable staff to deal with tasks that do not need to be in real-time, increases.
Tools such as Loom enables employees to do exactly that. Their slogan is ‘the expressiveness of video with the convenience of messaging’ and that explains their concept very well.
With their tool, remote staff can capture their screens, voice and face and share this instantaneously on the Loom platform, removing the need (and saving time) to type up an email or organise an unnecessary meeting.