As a business owner, I used to say, “Work is an activity, not a place.” For most of my career, I have been in an information worker industry. An information worker is loosely defined as someone who uses the information to make decisions or a person who creates information that informs the actions of others. Working in this industry has developed a work from anywhere mentality. Let me explain why.
Not every job allows the flexibility to work from anywhere, but desk jobs often can, and quite frankly, should. As technology consultants, we usually did our best work at client sites. Here, we could easily integrate into their environment and collaborate to achieve results. We had to be able to produce high-quality work no matter where we were doing it.
Anyone who has worked in a job with heavy travel schedules has had to find ways to be productive at client sites, coffee shops, hotel rooms, and airport terminals. I have been doing this for the last 25 years. So, when I would hire and develop new consultants, I wanted to encourage them to get out into the field. I encouraged them to do their work alongside our clients. I did not want them in the office unless they needed a quiet place to formulate ideas. Or if they needed to collaborate with their coworkers to validate their ideas.
If working from home increased their productivity, then so be it. This was especially true when a consultant traveled weekly to clients. Work from home was a way to balance out the road warrior lifestyle and keep people from burning out. We unintentionally fostered a flexible work environment that provided balance in their lives. Turns out, people liked the concept of prioritizing results over attendance metrics.
Turns out, people liked the concept of prioritizing results over attendance metrics.
Flash forward to 2020
Concepts and new ideas around flexible working, digital transformation, employee engagement, and modern digital workplaces have been taking hold in recent years. Many organizations have been learning and investing in remote work options. Everyone is trying to figure out the potential challenges and rewards. I live in this world as a consultant now. I am part of a community of enablers helping people leverage the modern workplace opportunity. When the global pandemic hits, we suddenly realized these remote work concepts can not only save our businesses but save lives.
In the last week of April, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security – we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything.” An acceleration of change has been a silver lining to the cloud of uncertainty we are living in. Weare asking ourselves, is “work from home” the new normal? Could we just refuse to go back to the office? I have read a lot of opinions on this. There is a main concept I am also hearing about which expands the possibilities even further. It is “Work From Anywhere”.
Work From Anywhere
Silicon Valley people are talking about moving back to their childhood hometowns and enjoying a lower-cost lifestyle. Millennials have already been pushing past legacy career options to explore meaningful self-employment ideas. These value “Work To Live” over “Live To Work” professions. A common question asked of recruiters today is, “Will I be able to work remotely in this job?” A negative answer eliminates the opportunity from consideration. I know people who work from anywhere by choice and they leverage their freedom to travel the world living in AirBnB’s full time. They might be on the coast of France for two months. Then settle into a houseboat on the Mississippi River for two weeks. And then land in an NYC high-rise condo for the summer. The possibilities are endless and stretching the remote work idea to “Work From Anywhere” will surely improve the quality of life.
In summary, I think our “new normal” should include elements of “Work from Anywhere”, where possible. We have proven it can work in a time of need. We were thinking about it, but we needed this disruption in our world to give it a try. Take this time to consider how to go forward from here. Let us learn from this and adopt new concepts for satisfying work experiences.
If you want to explore how “Work from Anywhere” might benefit your organization, let me know. We’ve explored the topic of remote work in multiple blog posts like this one here from our CEO: Is Your Organization Adapted to Remote Work?