Working from home won’t be the next big thing, and here’s why
However, we predict that working practices will go one step further as they change and evolve. Evidence suggests that businesses will instead begin to adopt work from anywhere (WFA) policies, rather than work from home (WFH) policies. This would considerably increase flexibility, productivity and employee satisfaction, when compared to WFH practices and office-based work.
WFH vs WFA, what’s the difference?
Working from home is exactly that, working from a bedroom, kitchen, living room or study in your own home. For many people this means having a desktop and traditional office-style set-up from the comfort of your own home, similarly to how most people are working during lockdown.
Working from anywhere, however, is far more flexible and can cater perfectly to the needs of the business and the employee. As long as you have the right tech, a strong WiFi connection, and an appropriate job role, you can work from anywhere. We’ve listed below some appropriate examples of places to work under a WFA policy:
• In a designated co-working space
• In a quiet café with a strong WiFi connection
• In the office
• In a library
• At home
• On the train
• At a holiday home
Ultimately, WFA provides employees with more flexibility and freedom to ‘get the job done’. Many people struggle with having an abundance of commitments that must work around an office-based nine to five. For example, employees may unnecessarily use up annual leave to attend appointments at the hospital, doctors, or dentist. Additionally, for professionals with children, it’s common to have to leave work early to attend a parents’ evening, watch a performance, or pick an unwell child up from school. These unavoidable activities tend to disrupt the working day and can cause anxiety for both the employer and the employee.
However, if employees are enrolled on a WFA policy, this problem is almost entirely absolved. Instead, workers would have the right equipment and capability to work somewhere closer to where they need to be. They could also work on public transport and work from home later in the evening to make up for time lost during the day. Wherever they choose to work, employees would be given the flexibility to schedule their day in a way that works best, for both them and the business.
working from anywhere
There are numerous surveys and statistics to prove that flexible working would benefit employee wellbeing and satisfaction. Professional HR body CIPD also reports that 29% of flexible workers experience excessive pressure and stress at work compared to 42% of non-flexible workers. Furthermore, they also found that flexible workers were significantly more satisfied with their work-life balance (65%) than non-flexible workers (47%).
Moreover, WFA opens more substantial doors for employees when considering their future. Whereas a WFH employee can pop to the shops on their lunch break, a WFA employee can consider relocating closer to elderly parents without worrying about job security (provided that their specific policy allows them to do so). Ultimately, WFA policies are the prime option for attracting and retaining talent.
Allowing employees to work from anywhere will inevitably cut down on commuting time, which will reduce instances where employees are late because of scenarios that are out of their control, such as traffic accidents or tube strikes.
Furthermore, flexible working would allow for employees to tailor their day around client meetings. For example, if a worker has an off-site meeting in the afternoon, they could choose to work from a location near to the meeting in the morning, meaning that there is no need to commute from the office to the meeting later on, freeing up time for other things.
Reduced productivity tends to be a major concern for employers when considering flexible working. However, in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have had the opportunity to discover that their workforce can and do function just as effectively when working remotely.
Moreover, there is a plethora of evidence to suggest that flexible working actually increases productivity. Prior to COVID-19, Chinese travel agency Ctrip, carried out a flexible working experiment whereby they suspended all office-working for nine months. During this period they actually saw a 13% increase in productivity which they attributed to a reduction in sick days and break time, as well as a more comfortable working environment.
Additionally, the ability to WFA means that employees can choose a working environment that is best suited to the tasks ahead of them for that day. If an employee is working on a team project that involves a lot of collaboration with colleagues, it makes sense for them to work from the office that day. But, if an employee is working on an individual writing project, they could benefit more from working in a public library, where there is guaranteed silence and less distractions.
Building your team
Another benefit of implementing a WFA scheme is the opportunity to rethink recruitment tactics. Allowing employees to work from anywhere massively increases the talent pool that is available. For employees that are invited to work from anywhere full-time, location is no longer a limitation. In fact, employees could be hired from across the UK or even internationally, depending on what’s best for the business. Opportunity is also broadened for candidates who are employed to WFA on a part-time basis, with the rest of the week spent in the office. It’s likely that job applicants that live further afield would be happy to commute the extra distance to the office for a few days a week, provided they are given flexibility with the remaining days. Ultimately, giving employees the opportunity to WFA removes the limitation of physical location. Instead, your business would be exposed to the very best talent in the job market.
Additionally, if fewer employees are office-based, there is less need for businesses to invest in bigger offices. Even if employees do work in the office part-time, they could share desks with colleagues or use communal working spaces, helping to cut unnecessary business expenses.