In early 2020, businesses sent their employees home to work remotely, an unexpected situation born of necessity due to a worldwide pandemic—and with COVID-19 still rampant almost a year later, many people are still working remotely.
Today, we can look back and see what we didn’t know then: that the sudden and massive work-from-home movement worked. Eighty-three percent of employers say the shift to remote work has been successful.
And almost a year after COVID set off this enormous work-from-home experiment, we’ve learned something else. We’ve learned that when you don’t have to work at the office and you have everything you need to work from home, then “home” can be just about anywhere.
Work from anywhere is permanent
Tomorrow’s employees have tasted freedom—and they like it. In its State of Working From Home in 2020 study, Leadership IQ found only 9% of employees ever want to work in an office full-time again. They want the flexibility to work from anywhere and on their own schedule.
Many companies have announced they’ll allow employees to work remotely on a permanent basis, and consequently, a lot of people have recently reconsidered their living situations. Employees are fleeing expensive housing markets in New York and California and relocating to much less expensive cities such as Raleigh, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas.
Working-from-anywhere has become a perk that businesses must offer to stay competitive.
Consider these five principles of a successful, work-from-anywhere company.
1. They acknowledge that work is an action, not a place
One thing the pandemic has turned on its head is how we think about the word “work.” Work-from-anywhere companies have stopped thinking about work as a place and instead tend to use it as a verb. With their employees working remotely from anywhere, they focus on what employees are accomplishing instead of where they’re doing it. As long as the work gets done well, they realize it doesn’t matter where the employee is located.
2. They offer workplace flexibility
Successful, work-from-anywhere companies offer a flexible work schedule that lets their employees decide where they live and work, what their work schedule looks like, and how they spend their workday. Eighty percent of respondents in a Flexible Work survey said they’d be more loyal to an employer that offers flexible working conditions.
3. They trust their employees
Offering a flexible work schedule automatically leads to the next must-have principle that work-from-anywhere companies adopt: They trust their employees. They do this by focusing their attention on the company’s goals and whether they are met.
Data suggests this has enormous benefits. Employees who work for companies where trust is a corporate value feel 106% more energy at work, are 76% more engaged in tasks, and their stress levels are 74% lower.
At these companies, the focus is on how employees do their job and not where they do it. Managers clearly communicate job responsibilities and direction, provide the resources their employees need, and then back off and trust them to do the work.
These businesses realize that most employees intend to get their work done, so managers are less concerned about monitoring what happens between stating the goals and accounting for the results.
4. They let their company’s culture evolve
Companies with work-from-anywhere policies take the time to determine what’s truly most important: What is their company’s purpose? They’ve taken the focus away from how many hours and how much “face time” someone puts in at the office. Instead, they focus on the actions that get results.
Twitter adopted the hashtag #LoveWhereverYouWork as one way of uniting its employees who work remotely around the globe. They recognized the company’s culture isn’t necessarily weakened by employees working from anywhere, but with conscious purpose and deliberate evolution can actually be strengthened.
Such work-from-anywhere companies realize their company culture must change to accommodate their employees, where they are, and how they get work done. They’re careful to share their company values with remote workers and keep them connected.
5. They prioritize communication
Companies with successful work-from-anywhere cultures make sure they have unified communication systems that make it easy for employees to communicate clearly and get prompt responses to questions. They provide easy-to-use systems, so people working in different locations are not held back and have all the communication access they need, so nothing falls through the cracks.
They make face-to-face meetings a priority—even when they take place using video conferencing—because they know that seeing each other on the screen helps employees identify issues that need addressing, creates connections, and establishes trust.
Remember that even when your employees sit in a corporate office, they often spend much of their time on video calls. As long as you provide unified communications, including team messaging and video conferencing, your employees can do the same work wherever they are.