Employer
Published 17 November, 2020

Future of Work: From Anywhere at Anytime (5 Mins Read)

Technology and digital connectivity had advanced so fast that people have now begun to ask, “Do we really need to be together in an office, to do our work?” The answer to this question has clearly come up as “No”during the COVID 19  pandemic crisis. Over the last few months, whether it's work or entertainment, people have learned that most tasks can be accessed and done from home. However, what started off as a few weeks of working from home has become a catalyst for a big change regarding how the future of work will look like.

We have learnt that many of us don’t even need to be located in the same place, country, city or town with our colleagues in a specific office building to do our jobs. Individuals, teams and the entire workforces, can perform absolutely well while being entirely scattered and they have done it successfully. Which has now raised new questions: Are all-remote or majorly remote organizations the future of  our knowledge work? Is work from anywhere (WFA) here to stay and be the future of how we work in the knowledge based organizations?

Undoubtedly, this model offers significant benefits to the companies and their employees. Organizations can reduce or even eliminate exorbitant real estate costs, hire and use the best talent available globally while mitigating the immigration issues. Research indicates that this results in an increase in the productivity and quality of work. Workers get geographical flexibility i.e. they can live where they prefer to, eliminate commutes and have a better work-life balance. However, concerns persist regarding how WFA will affect the communication between the employees. By communication we mean brainstorming, problem solving, knowledge sharing, socialization, camaraderie and mentoring, performance evaluation, compensation, data security and regulation.

In order to understand better, how the leaders can capture the upside of WFA while overcoming the challenges and avoiding the negative outcomes, several studies were conducted. Those studies showed that many companies have embraced all or majorly remote models. This study includes Tata Consultancy Services or TCS (a global IT services company that has announced a plan to be 75% remote by 2025), the United States Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO (which has thousands of WFA workers), Tulsa Remote, GitLab (the world’s largest all remote company with 1,300 employees), Zapier (a workflow automation company with more than 300 employees, none of them are co-located at the same place, instead they are around the United States and in 23 other countries).

The Covid-19 pandemic has opened the senior leaders' minds to the idea of adopting WFA for all or part of their workforces. Apart from TCS, companies including Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, Siemens and State Bank of India have announced that they will make remote work permanent even after a vaccine becomes available. Forced into remote work this year, lots of  other companies are also deliberating on this work model to adopt it for a long term.

The Benefits of Work From Anywhere (WFA)

For the Employees

More Freedom: It's surprising to see how greatly the workers are benefitted from these arrangements. Many say they regard the freedom to live anywhere in the world as a huge bonus. For those in dual career situations, it reduces the pain of looking for two jobs at a single location. WFA is the most powerful telework program which people have encountered. It allows anyone to pursue their own aspirations at a moment’s notice and simultaneously allows them to contribute to their home and society too.

Better work Life balance: Some people found that it provides a better quality of  life, as is proved by their statements. Few examples of  those are like “WFA has allowed my children to see their grandparents on a regular basis and play with their cousins, as we can work from anywhere.” “Being closer to family has improved my overall happiness.” Someone said, “Participation in WFA has been outstanding for my work/life balance. I live in my favourite part of the country and I have more time to relax.”

Better health and well being: People talked about the proximity to medical care for children and accommodating their partners. Their ability to enjoy the warm weather, prettier views and more recreational opportunities. Millennials in particular seemed captivated by the idea that WFA would allow them to become to travel all over the world while still being employed. Before the COVID 19 restrictions, some companies such as Remote Year, were aiming to facilitate that lifestyle.

 

Saves Money : Cost of living is another big factor. As the companies do not adjust salaries according to where employees chose to live, so they could save a lot on rent by working from their own homes and staying at their hometowns. Working from home also reduces their travelling cost, which means the employees can spend more of their money on the things they love. The result is a happier, healthier and a highly motivated workforce.

Less time spent on commute : A reduction in the amount of time spent on a stressful and unpleasant commute is undoubtedly a huge benefit for the employees, which could also give your business a boost too. Whether it’s an hour and a half train ride or a 30-minute drive through rush hour traffic, this is time they’ll never get back. When working from home, an employee arrives fresh at their desk and raring to go.

For the Organizations

Increased productivity: Workers are not only happier but also more productive. Business owners need to have a certain amount of trust in their employees to let them work from home, but those that do can benefit from an increase in productivity. According to a Canada Life survey, people working from home score their productivity as 7.7/10, as compared to 6.5/10 for the office workers. As they claim that they’re not in a loud environment or not distracted by the co-workers. A Stanford survey also found that employees who work from home are 13 percent more productive than their counterparts working from the office. The health and wellbeing of the workforce has proven links to productivity and a reduction in absenteeism too.

Improved employee retention: One of the biggest headaches for small businesses is losing the employees that make them click. Small businesses cannot always compete with larger organisations when it comes to salary and benefits, hence it’s important to make the most of the advantages they have. While endless meetings and outdated workplace practices might keep workers in larger organisations tied firmly to their desks, the agility and entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well in many small businesses can give employees the freedom they crave for. Working from home can give parents with childcare responsibilities the flexibility they need, while other workers can benefit from an enhanced work life balance. Both these factors play a crucial part in retention of the employee for a long term.

Access a wider pool of talent: One of the key reasons behind the rise in remote working is the ‘millennial effect’. Younger generations have grown up being able to communicate cheaply and effectively from anywhere in the world, so it follows that they expect the same thing in the workplace environment too. For younger employees, workplace flexibility is also one of many factors they consider while looking for a new role. Number of surveys have indicated that this is something that they expect and want. Offering such a benefit can help the employers attract the young and highly skilled employees, who might not otherwise be interested in a particular role.

Giving employees the option to work remotely also allows you to hire people from anywhere, which might be outside the normal commuting distance. This can be particularly beneficial in locations or professions where you have skill shortages, as small businesses can widen their nets and work with the most talented individuals, regardless of where they’re located.

Lower costs: The office spaces are very expensive now, considering the kind of  infrastructure and the excellent facilities they provide nowadays. If you rent that office space now then you can claim some of the costs back as part of your capital allowance, but it’s still likely to be one of the biggest fixed costs your business will have. We’re not necessarily advocating that you do away with an office altogether, but by allowing your employees to work from home two days a week and operating a hot desking policy the rest of the time, you could reduce the amount of office space you need. It’s true that hot-desking is not every employee’s favourite policy, but if it gives them the freedom to work from home for a part of the week then there’s a good chance it will work well in the long run.

Way forward

It’s predicted that by the end of 2020, more than 30 percent of the workforce will either be freelance, outsourced or remote workers and will spend much of their time working from home or anywhere. As millions of workers than ever before are working remotely now, in the comfort of their homes and in a new environment, the concept of work from anywhere is already on the table. What will the companies need once the pandemic is over. Companies focused on ensuring resilience and optimized IT will help the corporates in the business continuity and will be in demand. Cloud connectivity will be a prerequisite and a flexible, adjustable bandwidth will be required to keep remote operations up and running and will be of utmost importance.

Organizations will need an unified communications and collaboration tools to keep the managers and the employees in touch and working together no matter where they are, while cloud contact centres will empower the customer service operations. Cyber security will be much more essential with many more end points due to the remote working of the employees which will ensure end to end security. It’s obvious to say that the traditional way of  working from an office has almost been put to rest and working from anywhere is the next logical level of working from home.

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