In this comprehensive article on work from anywhere, we’ll delve into:
- The price we pay for an unhealthy premium on “productivity”
- What is working from anywhere, anyway?
- Why work from anywhere is good for employees
- Why work from anywhere is good for employers too
- Best practices for work from anywhere setups
- The essential role technology plays in work from anywhere arrangements
The price we pay for an unhealthy premium on “productivity”
These days, there is a sort of unspoken premium placed on being busy. On being present. On careers and on being in the office day in and day out. Many companies espouse overwork in the guise of productivity, with unhealthy slogans like “Hustle harder,” or “Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done.”
It doesn’t help that many prominent and successful individuals today also campaign for the same thing. Tesla’s Elon Musk famously Tweeted, “There are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” He added in subsequent Tweets that the optimal time “varies per person,” but is “about 80 sustained, peaking about 100 at times. Pain level increases exponentially above 80.” Marissa Meyer, Yahoo CEO, didn’t even pause working after giving birth (to twins, no less!), “hustling” even as she lay recovering on her hospital bed. Not only that, she is a huge proponent of overwork, logging in 130-hour work weeks. She said, that it was very possible, “if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom.” She added, “For my first five years, I did at least one all-nighter a week, except when I was on vacation — and the vacations were few and far between.”
But the effects of this kind of culture aren’t looking good. Gallup reports that 55% of Americans feel stressed throughout the day, and are some of the most stressed people in the world. A study by Everest College provides an even more alarming figure — 83% of workers in the United States suffer from work-related stress. Which is ironic, given the U.S.’ first-world freedoms and conveniences, especially compared with people who work in third world countries under even more strenuous circumstances. In Manila in the Philippines, the Japan International Cooperation Agency put losses in productivity due to traffic congestion DAILY at $41 million. Some people get up in the middle of the night just to get work on time, with rush hour traffic taking as long as an excruciating three to four hours.
Moreover, more and more Americans are visiting their doctors due to stress-related issues (as if ordinary illnesses weren’t enough). Everyday Healthy says that a third of respondents for a study on stress reported that they went to their doctor over stress-related problems. Another sobering statistic — 52% of GenZ-ers in the U.S. have been diagnosed with mental health problems.
With commutes getting harder and workplaces becoming more toxic, there is obviously a need for a different approach to what constitutes a healthy working lifestyle. Something like flexible careers that help employees approach a better balance between being able to fulfill their workplace obligations and their other daily needs. It isn’t really feasible or even sustainable for companies to continue to wear their workers out — with a highly competitive environment out there, top talent have more options to switch and transfer if they feel that their workplace is becoming more toxic.
Research has also shown that employees who are happy with their jobs tend to return the favor to the companies they work for, dishing out more creative and innovative output while also being significantly more productive and loyal. This is where the concept of working from anywhere comes in.
What is working from anywhere, anyway?
Working from anywhere is practically the same as working from home. It’s basically an arrangement that allows employees to work where ever they are, even from international locations. As long as the arrangement is handled correctly, it benefits both the employee and the employer.
The remote work / work from anywhere arrangement is fast becoming a trend in many workplaces and companies around the world. FlexJobs reported that a survey it conducted showed that the last two years have seen a significant uptick in the number of work-from-anywhere-in-the-world job listings, which has gone up by 53%. Technological and digital tools (more on that later!) is listed as a major contributor to the increase, as these tools allow for more flexibility in monitoring and overseeing workforces, as well as helping enhance collaboration among colleagues, teams and even intra-organizational individuals and groups — without requiring them to be at a single place like the office at any given time; and at times, can even see performance outpace what might be accomplished in an 8 to 5 office setting.
And before you think that flexible careers and work from anywhere setups are mere “woke novelties”, consider that huge corporations like Amazon, Dell, IBM and Virgin Atlantic allow work from anywhere arrangements with a number of its employees, and all are successful programs. So successful, in fact, that many other companies are following suit and trying out the system, according to an Entrepreneur article.
Why work from anywhere is good for employees
Employees benefit a lot from a work from anywhere arrangement. It’s a great way for them to better manage their time, achieve a better work-life balance, and even save on costs associated with going to work every day. And it’s pretty much been established that happy employees more often than not, return the favor and are much more loyal to the companies they work for and more motivated to do better (more on that later). Here’s a look at the benefits employees get from a work from anywhere setup:
1. It promotes a mindset of self-assessment and leadership.
Since a lot of work from anywhere arrangements entail a large degree of independence, employees are encouraged to be more alert and self-aware in terms of how much resources they are using or how much time they sit down to work — basically, they manage themselves. This is a great opportunity for employees to develop healthy self-assessment and leadership values. They don’t, or will need to learn to, function without someone constantly behind their back prodding them to work. They will learn to set schedules for themselves, manage time (especially when deadlines are involved) and be more equipped to make important decisions without having to always be dependent on someone else, like a supervisor. These qualities are important stepping stones not only to a mindset of leadership, but also build on improving employees’ skills and workflow as well.
2. It’s great for employees’ mental health.
The American Institute of Stress cites figures from Gallup that show that 51% of employees in the U.S. are mentally “checked out” when they are at work. That means that more than half of the workforce isn’t fully engaged mentally when they are at their respective workplaces. When you add the statistic that shows that 41% of employees cite stress as a main reason for lost or poor productivity, the importance of maintaining good mental health becomes more apparent.
3. Work from anywhere motivates employees to do better and be better.
A study from Stanford University shows that there IS a big premium for being able to work from anywhere. According to the study, the average worker is willing to take a pay cut of around 8% just to be able to work from anywhere. That’s significant. So imagine how employees feel if their employer pays them fairly well while also allowing them to work from anywhere. They will have much more motivation not only to keep their jobs, but also to be better at it. Motivated employees and employees who feel valued and trust by the companies and organizations they belong to are more creative and more innovative, and more driven to help the company succeed.
4. It’s cheaper for employees.
Employees spend a lot on transportation, and being able to work from home or from a more convenient location helps employees channel those costs into other things. Many millennials in the workforce marry their love of traveling with their work — making their trips both for business and pleasure. Some research from FlexJobs provides more concrete numbers in terms of employee savings when they can work from anywhere.
Why work from anywhere is good for employers too
Work from anywhere doesn’t just benefit employees — employers and companies equally benefit too. The beauty of allowing for flexible careers is that companies see a much better bottom line, provided by employees who are more than happy to help the organization succeed and grow. According to FlexJobs Senior Career Specialist Brie Reynolds, “With work-from-anywhere remote jobs, professionals gain a lot of control over their work lives by being able to live wherever they choose. That sense of control lends itself really well to people who aspire to travel and work, and it can make them both happier AND more productive as professionals. It can also foster a sense of loyalty from professionals to their employers because they appreciate the opportunity to live and work wherever they choose.”
Here are some of the major benefits for employers who adopt a work from anywhere setup with employees:
1. It’s much more cost effective.
If you are working in an office at the moment, this will be easy: Come up with an expense figure for renting the office space (except, of course, in the rare case that you own the space you work in), utilities and maintenance, and logistics (like paper, ink/toner and other office supplies), and miscellaneous items like coffee, and other free amenities for employees. Guaranteed, it’s going to be a significant number, especially when you consider your organization’s overall budget. Now imagine cutting that number by half, or even by 75%. That’s the kind of cost-savings work from anywhere provides. Since a lot of employees will not be coming into the office everyday, at the very least you save on utilities. On the wear and tear of office furniture. No matter how you look at it, work from anywhere arrangements WILL bear the organization cost-savings, and that’s always a good thing.
2. Less turnovers, more attraction, development and retention of top talent.
Since we established earlier that employees put a premium on being able to work from anywhere, that means employers can more confident that employees will more often than not, choose to stay on instead of jumping ship. That means less turnovers, which means that the experience and skills employees pick up during the course of their careers will go back to, and benefit the same company that gave them those opportunities for learning and advancement. That in itself is good return on investment. What’s more though, is that companies that support work from anywhere will also be able to attract and retain top talent — they basically have the cream of the crop.
3. Better productivity, innovation, and creativity.
Since employees are more motivated to stay and work for the company they are in, that means that productivity will more than likely see a significant boost. Many may very well actively look for more things to do. And with more rest and better state of mental health, these same employees are much more mentally equipped and enabled to be more innovative and more creative, qualities that are essential in keeping the company ahead of the competition and more prepared to face the ever-changing and increasingly competitive operating landscape.
4. It allows better oversight of work.
Timekeeping is a serious thing for many companies, and you might be surprised at how many organizations can get hung up on timekeeping and timely logging in and out of work. While for certain jobs this is an essential part of the way these jobs can function to the fullest, it certainly doesn’t mean that all kinds of jobs would benefit from this kind of approach. In fact, as an Entrepreneur article suggests, allowing work from anywhere setups may encourage organizations and leadership to be better able to focus on the essentials — the work and the work output themselves — instead of the mere presence of employees at the office. This, as we and studies have established, DOES NOT GUARANTEE performance at work.
Best practices for work from anywhere setups
Naturally, part of the reason why work from anywhere arrangements are successful is because of proper implementation of the program. Here are a couple of pointers in establishing a successful work from anywhere program for your organization:
- Put strong emphasis on communication between teams and team members.
- Look for people who are not only skilled, but also exhibit a strong sense of initiative to get things done. These are the people who will thrive and make big contributions in a work from anywhere scenario.
- Be transparent and present. Remote doesn’t mean that anyone (including managers) are unresponsive to messages and communication for long periods of time.
- Focus on productivity and output, and less on the number of hours people log in for work — not doing so defeats the purpose of working remotely.
- Make work from anywhere a part of your company’s culture. For any initiative to be successful, it should be treated seriously by all members of the organization, from the leadership down to the rank and file employees.
- Be intelligent in hiring; look for candidates that you feel will have the right attitude for working from anywhere.
- Don’t be shy in utilizing technology to facilitate and monitor tasks and projects.
The essential role technology plays in work from anywhere arrangements
Work from anywhere arrangements work — and work well — due primarily to the available technological and digital tools that facilitate the initiative. This is why it is important for organizations to have the right workflow management and monitoring toolbox at their disposal in order to maximize the benefits of work from anywhere programs.
A great example of this is the innovative suite of workflow management tools Runrun.it provides. Many of its features are perfect for both individuals and teams who collaborate and work remotely. For example, datasets can be generated for tasks completed and pending, allowing both teams and their respective managers and leadership to assess progress and points of improvement. The transparent nature of Runrun.it’s communication tools help everyone stay on top of any important updates or information, and keeps everyone in the loop. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To see what Runrun.it can do for your organization to meet your specific needs, check out the free trial here.