With the growing demand for flexible work, work from anywhere is becoming more popular. A work-from-anywhere policy is an employment policy. It lets employees work from any place rather than requiring them to work from a specific office. This policy offers a wide range of benefits to workers and companies.
What are the biggest pros of a work-from-anywhere policy for employees? Increased freedom, work-life balance, job satisfaction, and engagement. Being in control of their lives, employees become more motivated and productive at their jobs. Also, a higher retention rate can positively impact companies by lowering recruitment and training costs. Of course, this is thanks to a more engaged and stable workforce.
Read on to see the benefits of a work-from-anywhere policy for employees.
Flexibility is one of the top benefits of a work-from-anywhere policy.
“Flexible working arrangements are not just for new moms, nor just women for that matter,” Angel Kilian claims. “It’s relevant to everyone, irrespective of gender and their situation at home.”
Consider the ability to work from home, a local café, or any location that suits your needs. With this, employees are no longer tied to a specific office or schedule. This freedom lets them better balance work and personal duties, such as:
- Caring for children
- Pursuing educational opportunities
- Relaxing and recharging
This policy lets employees manage their health and well-being better. For example, take those with chronic health conditions or disabilities. What happens when they can work from home? In a controlled space, they have a better chance of performing their duties. They also avoid the physical and emotional stress of commuting.
Wendell White, a consultant renowned for building high-performing healthcare teams, shares:
“An expanded employee recruitment market for healthcare and other industries, with previously limited work from anywhere (WFA) options, will be one of the lasting changes from COVID-19-driven remote-work adoption. Organizations traditionally limited by the local talent pool will now more readily recruit statewide, regionally, or nationally. Employees will have greater flexibility in choosing where they work. Without sacrificing where they live.”
Managers often have a lot of worries about giving up control by providing more freedom. For example, they assume that remote employees will:
- Work less
- Mix work with personal responsibilities
Further, concerns arise, like communication issues and less collaboration between colleagues. Leaders blame this newfound flexibility for weak company culture.
Tsedal Neeley, a Harvard Business School professor, observes:
“Considering remote workers as less engaged than their office counterparts is a dangerous and completely inaccurate perspective. Productivity has gone up for most individuals and companies. Not surprising either because remote work increases productivity.”
Their concerns are valid. However, managers must realize that employees place high importance on the ability to work from home. A survey conducted in 2017 showed that:
- The typical worker is willing to trade up to 8% of their current wage for remote working options.
This finding highlights how valuable flexibility is in workers’ eyes. This is to the point where a monetary value is assigned to the work-from-anywhere policy.
Are you a fan of data-driven decision-making? Check the results of studies conducted on workers in a non-traditional office environment. For example, a Chinese travel agency found that its employees were more productive when working from home. This result was attributed to these reasons:
- A reduction in break time
- Less sick days
- A more comfortable workplace
Ultimately, the option to work from anywhere adds a unique advantage. Employees can take care of household duties and errands during work hours. They can also move closer to family or where there’s a low cost of living.
Flexibility brings many positive effects to employees and companies. Do you want to maximize its impact? Read “Workplace Flexibility and Productivity (How Flexibility Can Increase Productivity in an Organization).”
Improved Work-Life Balance
Another huge advantage of a work-from-anywhere policy is improved work-life balance. Employees can set their schedules and work from a place that suits them. Because of this, they can better manage their work and personal duties.
They can even structure their workday to suit their unique needs and lifestyle. Doing this will result in:
- Greater job satisfaction
- Overall more fulfilled employee
- A more positive work-life balance
Deirdre Orr, a talent development expert, expounds:
“One may view work-life balance as the approach to maintaining an equal number of hours between work and leisure. But it’s not! In a broader perspective, it’s about prioritizing things as per their importance.
Several statistics show that more than 60 percent of U.S. employees feel like their work-life balance is out-of-shape. We tend to fall into the trap of believing that we can be productive all the time. Or that an eight-hour day at work equates to eight hours of output. But in reality, employees certainly don’t produce anything more beyond a certain number of hours. But the impact on their health increases drastically.”
Are you a manager looking for tips on strengthening work-life boundaries? If so, we have written an article for you. Check out “Workplace Flexibility and Work-Life Balance (Tips for An Employer).” The piece shares insights on helping employees attain work-life balance. The concept has its advantages, such as preventing burnout.
Employees can reinforce this advantage with these steps:
1. Build Physical Boundaries
A designated workspace in your home can create a mental boundary between work and personal life. Have a clutter-free workspace. It can separate the time spent at your desk from the time spent in other areas of your home.
This physical boundary can help you concentrate and be more productive. In turn, it can reduce stress.
2. Set Work Hours
Working from home can tempt you to work late into the night and sleep the next day. But this schedule can negatively impact your sleep quality and burn you out.
Set a reasonable end time for your workday. Also, ensure you have enough time to enjoy dinner and engage in personal activities before bed.
In addition, create a healthy morning routine that includes physical activity and basic hygiene. Doing so can help you start your day off on the right foot. It also makes it easier to concentrate and be productive.
3. Take Your Work On The Road
There are so many shared workspaces and Wi-Fi-enabled places now. So, you no longer have to be confined to your home office. You can take your work out of the house to enjoy a change of scenery. Doing so also allows you to have a break from your normal surroundings.
Working on the road can eliminate distractions. It can also provide an uninterrupted work environment. If you have children at home, staying on the move can help you achieve the work-life balance you need.
4. Plan Your Work Schedule Well
Set a schedule for your workday. This can help you prioritize your time and ensure you get the most out of each day. It can help you feel more in control of your work and personal life. In turn, this can lead to a better work-life balance.
Online tools can help create a schedule. However, remember to set limits and establish healthy boundaries.
Brett Ellis, a diversity recruitment specialist in technology, concludes:
“My philosophy on boundary setting has changed a lot over the years. Now, if I don’t get paid, I’m not doing it. It is helpful for people to draw that line there.”
Employees can contribute more to the company when they feel in control of work and life. Thanks to this balance, workers are more successful. They become more motivated and productive overall.
Keep in mind that employees are just one-half of the equation. Employers are key drivers in achieving this goal too.
“As an employer, you have a significant role to play to ensure your employees aren’t trapped in the work-life balance feud,” adds Deirdre Orr.
Time management can be challenging at home. Check out our “Achieving Work-Life Balance: The Importance of Time Management” piece. Resting and ensuring you spend your time on the right tasks and resources can help you be more efficient.
Higher Job Satisfaction And Engagement
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a working setup. But remote work is now associated with higher levels of happiness in life and at work. Job satisfaction has risen considerably thanks to more companies having a work-from-anywhere policy.
Here’s what employees can get from this setup:
A Quieter Environment
One of the reasons for the increase in employee productivity was a quieter environment. People working from anywhere usually don’t experience distractions in traditional offices. Some examples are noise and interruptions.
Nicola Hainey, the head of business rates at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, admits:
“I get more work done in 3 days with no unnecessary interruptions at home than a 5 day week commuting to a high-density city with expensive parking charges. Long live remote working.”
The lack of disruptions and interruptions lets employees focus on work. This leads to increased engagement and better output.
Increased Hours Worked
Remote employees tend to start earlier, take shorter breaks, and work until the end of the day. There are no commutes and no running errands during lunch. Because of that, they use the extra time to get more work done.
Reality contrasts the widespread belief that remote workers don’t work as hard as office-based people. With a better working environment, employees can deliver more results.
Bartłomiej Skura, a talent acquisition director, notes:
“People working remotely more often indicated that they sometimes work after hours. 43 percent of them work over 40 hours a week. And they are happy with it!”
Reduced Sick Days
Employees can care for their health better with a solid work-life balance. People who work from anywhere are not tied to what’s at the office or nearby areas. Because of that, they save money while being more in control of their meals.
Not having to report to the office also lets most people do physical activities freely. Instead of getting tired from commuting, employees can manage their health better. This results in lower sick days.
Some jobs will never be fit for a work-from-anywhere policy. But a good rule of thumb for most jobs is to let people work from home once or twice a week. Read “The Importance of Employee Experience in a Remote Work Environment.” The piece can show you more benefits of this flexible working setup.
Increased Employee Retention
In addition to employee benefits, a work-from-anywhere policy benefits companies. How? It boosts employee retention.
What happens when employees can set their schedules and work from where they see fit? They are less likely to leave in search of a work-life balance or freedom.
You can save on recruitment and training costs when workers stay in the team. Everyone benefits from a more stable and engaged workforce as well.
Challenges of a Work-from-Anywhere Policy
Rachel Parnes, Senior Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, says:
“Maintaining a healthy work-life balance was hard enough when we worked in an office. But at least we had the opportunity to “turn it off” after the workday. The lack of a physical division between our work-life and our life-life since we started working remotely makes it very difficult to draw mental boundaries. It turns out, work-life balance is also more important than ever when working at home. Burnout happens fast when you’re never ‘off of work.’ And burnout doesn’t just threaten the quality of your work. It can derail your life.”
Working from anywhere can boost satisfaction, productivity, and engagement. It can also retain top talent and improve company culture and brand image. However, the policy has its own set of challenges:
Communication And Collaboration
What are some of the biggest challenges of this setup? It is how to maintain effective communication and collaboration among remote team members. Companies must ensure they have the right tech and processes to support remote work. They must also promote open and regular talking among team members.
“Building a meaningful rapport with your coworkers takes time. Especially in remote work environments. But if you take it slow and make a concerted effort to reach out to your coworkers openly, consistently, and kindly, you will see results.”
Training And Support For New Hires
Companies need to train and support employees who are new to remote work. The goal is to ensure they have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
You can try these actionable solutions:
Set clear time blocks when employees need to be online. Make sure they understand the flexible work policies and procedures to avoid misunderstandings.
Software And Tools
Make sure new hires know how to use the needed tools at work. Examples could be:
- Outlook or similar apps for managing emails
- Group messaging tools like Slack
- Video conferencing software such as Zoom
- Webphone applications like Broadsoft
During onboarding, specify which forms of communication need a response right away. Also, point out which are less urgent.
Set Specific Goals and Expectations
Define short and long-term goals and share a task calendar.
Check-in often with new hires to see how they are adapting. Then, provide support.
Set up meetings with team members and key employees. This includes workers, managers, and employees from other departments.
Provide specific training and mentoring. Also, arrange for colleagues to train the new hire and use online courses with follow-up sessions.
Create a 90-day roadmap plan to keep new hires engaged and productive. You can do this with a list of actionable tasks.
As leaders, it is crucial to consider the positive impact of a work-from-anywhere policy. Now is the ideal time to strategize and implement it for your team. More than ever, it’s time to recognize the value employees bring.
Given options to choose from, employees can easily pick the environment that applauds their efforts. Those who balance business objectives and work-life balance will come out on top.
Rachel Parnes advises:
“Maintaining work-life balance isn’t just the right move for you. It’s the right move for your career, your company, and everyone who cares about you. Especially if you’re all working from home. Treat maintaining a healthy work-life balance like any other professional goal and crush it. Remember, there’s no exception to the rule. We do our best work when we’re happy and rested.”
We have written about some solutions to address the cons of a work-from-anywhere policy. Discover “6 Challenges to Overcome When Hiring Remote Workers” and what to do about them.
1. Can remote work be permanent?
Remote work will likely become a permanent aspect of the economy. According to recent data, 11% of American workers were working remotely as of December 2022. The trend toward remote-friendly jobs is becoming more common in job listings and searches.
2. What’s the biggest benefit of working from anywhere?
In 2022, the biggest benefit of remote work globally was freedom in scheduling. 67% of survey participants gave it as the top perk. The ability to work from any place came in as the second most vital benefit.