With little warning or opportunity to plan, the coronavirus pandemic has completely upended the daily lives of millions of people personally and professionally. Almost overnight organizations of all sizes around the world had to transition their entire staff from working in the office to working at home in what is the largest remote working experiment ever. Initially, large organizations such as Unilever, Facebook, Ford and Google recommended that their employees voluntarily work from home to limit the spread of the virus. As the pandemic rapidly unfolded, what was once a recommendation is now a government mandate for many businesses, RingCentral included, to close their offices completely until it is once again safe to congregate in person.
Remote working isn’t new to many of us—globally, 70% of people work remotely at least once a week, and remote job openings have increased 151% in the past year. But the move for everybody to work from home for the foreseeable future is unexpected and unprecedented. In this current climate, being able to empower employees to work from home to protect everyone’s health while promoting business continuity is challenging for many organizations.
Historically, many businesses were reluctant to allow employees to work remotely. Managers did not know how to effectively measure productivity or determine if their staff were being as efficient at home as in the office. Executives had concerns about how physically dispersed teams would function and if the business would be negatively impacted.
The coronavirus outbreak means businesses will be working remotely for the foreseeable future or closing their doors. Employees and businesses are learning that productivity, communication and collaboration are not dependent on being in the same location. Businesses are quickly realizing they can achieve positive results with a geographically dispersed workforce.
The state of remote working before coronavirus
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the number of remote workers was on the rise. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics reported that there had been a 25% increase in remote workers.
As of in December 2019 when RingCentral Collected the data, there were almost 88,000 job opportunities in the UK on Indeed.com which listed remote working as part of the job description. The top five companies offering remote working jobs in the UK were WSP (575), Revolut (220), PwC (121), Network Rail (103) and Eaton (98), and 43% of remote working job opportunities were from companies based in London.
Even though 40% of remote working opportunities were full-time, most of these jobs fell into lower salary brackets; 38% of the remote working jobs we found paid less than £19,999 annually, and just 2% of the remote working jobs we found paid over £50k.
Our findings indicate that prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, most remote jobs in the UK were for entry-level positions, presenting a great opportunity for Generation Z candidates entering the workplace. Generation Z are demanding more from their employers, including the flexibility to work when and where they want, as well as having the tools to be able to communicate across more channels. The forward-thinking companies offering these entry-level remote working opportunities are the ones making themselves more attractive, and will ultimately take full advantage of new, young talent in the workplace.
The coronavirus outbreak is providing employers firsthand experience that employees of all seniority levels can be productive from anywhere when equipped with the right tools.
So, what does this mean for the future?
While the remote working trend is one that has steadily risen over the past decade, I believe that the current climate is going to have a lasting transitive impact on how we work. While data shows that remote working opportunities have more than doubled, companies need to embrace remote working, and innovate to stay competitive. The path to business continuity depends on enabling everyone from entry level through to mid and senior management to do their jobs from anywhere.
The most successful companies will modernize on an integrated communications platform that brings all employees and all communications, (e.g., message, video, and phone) together in one place. Teams don’t just need virtual meetings, they need to be productively collaborative before, during, and after meetings.
According to new research, a third of UK businesses don’t have the technology in place to support long term remote working. This will likely limit their ability to be competitive. The good news is that cloud-based solutions can be quickly implemented and require very little training for users.
At RingCentral, it is a privilege to be able to support companies during this difficult time. Being able to provide the technology that brings a level of normalcy to our working lives and allows businesses to operate as close to normal as they can, by maintaining communication and collaboration, is an honor for us. The fact we’re able to support businesses both large and small, and work with them to navigate through this difficult journey, is remarkable. We will continue to work as partners with our customers during this unprecedented time, as well as in the long term, as we all settle into the new normal of remote working.
Originally published Mar 30, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023