If you think employers that offer employees the ability to work from home any day of the week are progressive enough, think again. COVID-19 has accelerated an endless number of transformative initiatives that are otherwise put on hold indefinitely. Among these, work-from-home (WFH) was the one that witnessed the strongest growth due to increasing health concerns.
Read more: 5 questions for leaders to ensure business continuity post-COVID
Today, WFH is still carried out diligently in various organisations across the globe. As offices are reopening in places that have been experiencing extremely low transmission rates, many employers continue to allow employees to WFH while at the same time, turning it into an added employee perk, a competitive advantage, to attract new talents.
Today, WFH is no longer a privilege that explicitly belongs to startups or tech giants. Any type of knowledge work in any business now can be performed remotely. And not just from home, but from practically anywhere that employees find they are most productive.
If you are still grappling with the idea of working from home, you might want to skip it and jump on the bandwagon of “Working from Anywhere.” Yes, that is the future that companies will soon reckon with.
Read more: Finally, we can go back to the office! Or can we?
Wait a minute, what is this "work from anywhere" that you are talking about?
Just like the name implies, work from anywhere (WFA) is what it is. You can work however, whenever, and wherever you want, i.e., at the beach, at a nearby café, in a hotel, from your hometown, etc. With the WFA phenomenon, the two binaries "in office" and "at home" no longer play central roles. The concept goes beyond them to convey what flexibility truly means - untethered schedules, low-stress levels, and a borderless work environment.
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In other words, working from anywhere literally means anywhere employees deem fit - the ultimate geographical freedom. Thus, they are no longer confined to one specific location and are in complete control of their own workspaces which could be in a different city, town, or even country, from their employers.
For instance, here at TRG International, we have a very diverse and inclusive workforce with employees from Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the US, and all of whom are given the liberty to work in the time zone they are most productive and anywhere they feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, working from anywhere is not for everyone. There is a portion of the workforce that prefers social interactions which can only be obtained physically. What's more, WFA is primarily applicable to knowledge work. With the rate at that technology advances today, hopefully, this ideation will one day reach every corner of the world, enabling and empowering employees regardless of the jobs and industries that they are in.
Read more: How is TRG adapting to the new normal of virtual office post-COVID-19?'
The challenge is in the “How” - How to empower true work from anywhere culture?
One of the most prominent advantages of WFA is enhanced productivity. As employees are given the ultimate freedom to work, they are now more motivated, and thus, efficiency spikes as a result.
The ability to work anywhere essentially does not limit to specific groups of professionals. Its benefits can reach all full-time permanent staff members, from the intern who just joined the company yesterday, to senior managers that want to move closer to their retirement homes, or the CEO themselves.
An even bigger advantage that companies with flexible WFA policies will observe is talent. The traditional method of employment requires talents to be physically present in the office, which can essentially weed out quality individuals that want to work for a specific company but couldn’t because of geographical or physical obstructions. Therefore, with businesses that do not adopt the WFA model, there is a real risk of losing new valuable talents and retaining the best employees.
Having said that, as employees are now dispersed, will organisations subsidise or underwrite employees' expenses arising as a result of the emergent policies? For instance, expenses like equipment for their homes so they can resume work, internet access, coffee purchases, passes at coworking facilities, travel costs to different cities, etc. Furthermore, how should organisations help remote employees to connect in real life instead of via the computer screen, thus decreasing "Zoom fatigue" - a post-COVID burnout?
On that same note, for WFA to work, businesses need to grant employees true autonomy and flexibility. What this means is in addition to establishing a concrete and transparent communication platform, supportive company culture, accessible resources portal, and relevant hardware and tools, leaders need to move away from micromanaging.
Micromanaging will not be feasible in the remote world. It is understandable to assume that once employees are out of sight, they are also out of mind. Or the reduced work quality is due to multitasking - employees pursue a side project.
Rather than forcing employees to act according to commands when working remotely, managers and leaders can adopt a more innovative and agile performance-tracking system. As businesses are transforming, not only the locations that get refreshed but also key business processes, goals, and leadership styles.
More important, businesses need to invest in building a trusting work environment - the prime ingredient to foster cohesive and productive teams that can withstand time and location differences.
If you are new to the concept of working from anywhere, check out our resource portal where we note down step-by-step guidelines and critical factors to take into consideration when building a virtual workplace for yourself as well as your employees. Check it out via this link here.