The Future of Work: Working From Anywhere
Before the current crisis, only a small group of big companies had taken the remote working trend a step further, eliminating offices and allowing a partial workforce to work from home.
Working from home means having a home office setup. For most organizations, the home should be near the company and require workers to avail themselves to the headquarters when needed. The company may also design the office for the worker.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped cement 'working from home' as a permanent feature of every company that needed to survive the storm.
A Short Lived Experience
A movement that was brewing in a handful of organizations before 2020 has now become a norm. Luckily, personal computing and digital connectivity have advanced so far that questions like whether it is necessary to work together, in an office, to get a job done got a definite answer – it is possible to work without being colocated with colleagues in a block.
At the onset of the pandemic, many people experienced unexpected benefits from a new working style. Not only did working from home help protect workers from the risk of contagion, but the arrangement also offered them flexibility and convenience: no commute, no dress code, and being able to stay close to one's family.
From the employer's perspective, the business proved to be more efficient than anticipated, given the abrupt forcing of employees to work remotely. Indeed many organizations had seen the arrangement as the new normal and started a conversation around abolishing office settings.
Unfortunately, things seem to be taking a new turn.
A Shift In Feelings
To a huge extent, working from home has been a great experience for many. Recently, however, there's been a shift in feelings about the WFH model. Recent studies show that “at home workers” are struggling to keep up with their workloads.
With the increasing wearing-off of WFH's novelty, decision-makers are being forced to develop a better solution. Experts believe it’s time for organizations to think about “Working from Anywhere (WFA).”
Working From Anywhere
As the world comes to the end of lockdowns, many businesses have difficulty deciding whether employees should return to the office or continue working from home. Amid the difficult decision-making process, a phrase has popped up as a better solution: “work from anywhere.”
Working from anywhere (WFA) means exactly that, “anywhere” – Be it at home, in the office, or any space like a restaurant. It is a flexible workspace where employees can freely work where and when they desire.
The benefits of working from anywhere cut across all edges of business and social wellbeing. For employers, there is a broader pool of potential talents that can be hired, with no geographical limitations. For employees they’re saving on commuting time and costs, have higher autonomy, and can work independently with fewer office interruptions, thus increasing productivity.
Even better is in how these findings put it; “Daily global CO2 emissions decreased by –17% (–11 to –25% for ±1σ) by early April 2020 compared with the mean 2019 levels, just under half from changes in surface transport. At their peak, emissions in individual countries decreased by –26% on average.”
Here’s the bottom line:
We need to shift our mindset away from “working from home”. It’s not a healthy long-term solution to be working from the kitchen bench. It effects your home relationships and mental health, you miss all the incidental movements and exercise you would get from commuting, and most importantly you’ll miss out on experiences sitting in your cocoon at home.
Again, we shouldn't feel that we need to rush back to the office environment - with its long commute, the cost of dressing for work, uncomfortable work stations, constant interruptions, being forced to interact with colleagues you'd rather not associate with, fronting the boss when you haven't finished that project… ahh… and so much more!
But rather than thinking about working from home post-pandemic, we should be thinking about working from anywhere. It is important to meet with the team, share ideas, brainstorm, but this doesn't need to be in the office. This is healthy for employees, employers, and all stakeholders. Above that, it's a great starting point for minimising carbon footprint.
We all work differently and respond differently, so we should be managing our work time to get maximum effectiveness with the least amount of unnecessary stress. We can balance our work/office/meetings to get a healthy balance of interaction, stimulus, and quiet time to get things done.