Virtual Office Featured Article

AI, Flexibility, Vermont Encourage Remote Work Trend

January 03, 2019
By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

Working remotely has become quite popular. The flexibility it affords, the growing number of tools that support it, and the programs that encourage it will likely contribute to even more growth in telecommuting going forward.

The number of U.S. telecommuters has increased 115 percent in the past decade, according to a 2017 study by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics. That report suggests that 3.9 million U.S. employees, representing 2.9 percent of the U.S. workforce, in 2017 worked from home at least half the time.

This Forbes report suggests that remote work will strengthen in the year ahead. “All signs indicate that we are nowhere close to hitting the plateau,” writes Oxygenmat CEO and Forbes contributor Abdullahi Muhammed. “Businesses across public and private sector[s] increasingly recognize the benefits of hiring and retaining remote workers. Societal trends with millennials and Gen Z also push more businesses towards adopting more flexible working policies and allowing at least [a] partial telecommute.”

The availability of a wealth of conferencing solutions, document sharing services, mobile apps, project management platforms, remote desktop tools, and virtual desktop technology also are helping support the remote worker trend. Such solutions help telecommuters keep in touch with colleagues and customers, and allow employers to assist, enable, and monitor their far-flung employees.

And some sources suggest that artificial intelligence will expand what’s possible with remote work in the future. For example, Slack CTO and cofounder Cal Henderson recently told Fast Company he expects the remote workforce of the future to take direction from AI tools.

“You want people to understand that of the three things they could do right now, here is the one that is most aligned with what we’re trying to do as an organization,” he said. “To the extent that technology can help communicate that clarity around vision and priorities, that’s hugely helpful for people prioritizing their own work.”

As for the programs that encourage remote work, one of those has been established in Vermont. The state has instituted a program to pay people who work remotely up to $10,000 to move to the state. In May, the governor signed a bill allocating $500,000 to cover remote worker computer software, relocation, and other costs. The program aims to counter Vermont’s aging population.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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