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As we put the wraps on 2020 (a year which will live in infamy) I thought that it would be great to look back at a positive aspect of the year. Remote work and software became more important than ever and huge leaps forward were made which will change the landscape for years to come.

Remote work here to stay

It’s probably no surprise that after all of the events of 2020 that it appears remote work is here to stay. Many companies have opened their hiring processes to include remote first roles in order to accommodate what is no longer a trend, but dare I say the new norm.

This year even saw cities and towns around the globe offer people stipends just to move to their cities in order to work remotely. Many of these places trying to seduce techies with cheaper rent and available co-working space. Cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma started online programs to showcase what they could offer to incoming talent.

While for many that was not an option for obvious reasons, it’s apparent that the evidence of remote work becoming more and more popular will influence this idea to continue. So maybe 2021 is the true year that we see the major redistribution of tech wealth to smaller cities all over the world and away from the hubs of the east and west coast of the US.

Big Tech takes action

Some of the biggest standout actions that occurred as the year developed were those taken by some of the giant tech companies in regards to their on-site staffing. Twitter announced that some employees (those who can work from home with no issue) are free to work remotely forever if they’d like to. Facebook also followed a similar path stating that more and more of the team would become remote in the coming years. Google also is having its employees remote until July of 2021.

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This is such a big development because these companies are known for the allure of their large campuses and big cities. It is a major perk for many who are lucky enough to work for these corporations. And if any of those companies were looking to fill positions it also means that the on-site aspect was likely not a factor and that more and more people would be considered for remote positions, opening the door to those not willing to relocate previously for such a position. Giving more thought to hiring outside a specific geographic locations provides a greater opportunity to a more diverse and inclusive work crowd which might not otherwise present itself with land locked hiring.

Communication tools take hold

Prior to 2020 the remote conferencing software field was crowded with no real standouts. Sure plenty of people were familiar with the likes of Skype, Google Meet, and Slack as options for conducting video calls. But no name became bigger than that of Zoom.

Many people were already using it for work meetings prior to the pandemic, but it was the real jumping off point the platform being used for video calls for just about any reason. Families would use it for staying in touch (with or without the 40 minute time limit as an excuse to cut things short), friends could have virtual hangouts using it. Some fitness instructors conducted virtual classes using. Many have started using the word ‘zoom’ as a verb meaning to video chat (but they might want to keep an eye on that for copyright reasons). And obviously it still remained paramount in the professional scene for just about all types of business meetings.

However it wasn’t just the tech scene that saw these tools playing an important part in how communication and business was handled. We saw US Congress conduct its first remote hearings using WebX, potentially opening the door for other manners of remote tooling in the future. In many ways was this was a big year for streamlining tools for staying in touch.

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Zoom also took hold in the classroom. Many schools were forced to adopt either a remote first or hybrid method of learning. None of which would be possible were it not for the existence of all of these tools. While it was not ideal for many, it is a testament to how important these technologies have become to every day life.

Moving forward

Overall in a year that seems to have had more negatives than one can count it is super uplifting to see the remote work scene finally shifting to the mainstream. In the coming years I think that we will only see more and more barriers come down moving us closer and closer to a globalized workforce with more and more high end opportunities for people all over the world. All of this being enabled by the amazing advancements and pieces of software made by wonderful teams who are super passionate about pushing the landscape forward and giving teams the ability to create awesome things.

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