Whereas exploring Mayan ruins and misplaced cities within the jungles of Guatemala, I emerged from a dense forest sooner or later in quest of one thing really elusive: a Wi-Fi community.

The yr was 2006. I used to be with my spouse and two sons on the journey of a lifetime, going from one Mayan web site to a different throughout 5 international locations over six weeks. I wasn’t on trip. I labored throughout your complete journey. On the time, I used to be writing a weekly opinion column for Computerworld, with consulting work on the aspect.

I made a decision as an experiment to inform neither my editor nor my purchasers that I might be touring. I needed to conduct an experiment — to see if they might even discover that I used to be overseas. (Spoiler: They didn’t.)

With a deadline imminent, I really wanted that web connection. After trudging by means of a forest from the village the place we had been staying to a small city rumored to have a resort, I discovered it: a run-down constructing with “Resort” hand-painted on it, with a steel desk and two chairs beside the construction roughly within the dust street. Extra importantly, I checked my telephone and there it was: Wi-Fi! (In that place in these days, Wi-Fi was uncommon, however for those who might discover it, there was by no means a password concerned.) I sat down, logged in, despatched my column and breathed a sigh of reduction.

Sweltering within the Central American humidity and swatting away mosquitos, I didn’t know on the time that I used to be residing sooner or later.

The rise of distant work

When the COVID-19 pandemic compelled a rush to distant work in early 2020, it merely accelerated an current development.

The rise in distant work didn’t exist in a vacuum. It was half of a bigger development towards the rise of versatile work, the place many computer-using professionals discovered themselves working at instances off-site and after-hours.

The significance of flex work grew to become properly established previously 5 years. LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report found a 78% increase in LinkedIn job posts referencing flexible work between 2016 and 2018. Remote work itself in the US rose by 173% between 2005 and 2018, according to March 2020 data from Global Workplace Analytics. Flex work and remote work are part of the same phenomenon.

But when the pandemic hit, what had been a slow trend became an overnight one. And large-scale remote work appears to be here to stay.

The numbers tell a compelling story. A report from AngelList and Buffer published last February found that nearly all (98%) of the 3,500 global remote workers it surveyed would prefer to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their working lives. Employees who work remotely prefer it so much that 29% would quit if they had to go back to the office, according to a recent survey by LiveCareer. Owl Labs found in its 2020 State of Remote Work US report that allowing remote work reduces employee turnover on average by 25%.

Don’t look now, but tomorrow’s remote work won’t look even remotely similar to today’s. It’s time for businesses of all sizes, C-suite executives, and IT professionals to understand the consequential and surprising future of remote work.

After the rush to remote work, what comes next?

What flex work and remote work have in common is that they both emerged in the context of a historically new reality — a digital technology-enabled disconnection between work and location, and between work and time. The pandemic work-from-home trend proved once and for all that work doesn’t always need to be done in an office or during office hours.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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