Is WFA (Work From Anywhere) The New Normal?
Back in the day we needed special approval to work from home. “Hi there [boss], I was hoping I could WFH today – [enter excuse]”. We all remember the excuses we would need to come up with to make it acceptable – car’s not working, kid’s school is canceled today, I’m not feeling too hot, my parents are in town, etc.
Since COVID-19, it’s expected to have hybrid or full time WFH schedules with 56% of companies* offering this flexibility. Even 16% of companies* are hiring remote only workers. There is a culture shift at the workplace and as an employer, you might want to address it before your staff does. 32% of those surveyed by Owl Labs said they would quit their job if they were not able to continue working remotely.
With this new WFH lifestyle, people can now WFA (work from anywhere), as long as their company allows it. Below are a few of my favorite acronyms that capture the work from anywhere lifestyle.
WFB (work from brewery/bar/beach/bathroom)
WFM (work from the mountains)
WFC (work from camper)
WFP (work from plane)
I’m half joking that the work from anywhere lifestyle may mean not actually working, but we can agree it creates more flexibility in our schedules. A University of Chicago study found that people saved a total of 40 minutes per day not commuting, allowing more time spent at our desk and getting more work done than at the office. People are gaining time but also saving over $6,000 per year by not commuting everyday. The benefits are more than just saving time.
When we are saving time not commuting and having more quiet time, does that impact work output? Stanford Business says that yes, performance boosted 22%* since being able to work remotely. That’s the #1 business school in the US in case you were curious. Not just work efficiency, but happiness has improved since starting to WFH. People are 22% happier compared to those who work in an office environment, plus they stay at their jobs longer.*
With more autonomy, it’s critical for employees to work more effectively and likely more efficiently. Specifically, over communicate, crea
te better briefs, hit deadlines, and not procrastinate. All of which should help improve internal communication and business growth, but that’s not always the case. Upwork reports 22.5% of managers said that productivity decreased since employees have started to work remotely. Workers have more chances to drop the ball or cover up their lack of work, which could result in more employee and/or client turnover. How do we prepare our team for this new frontier and how can companies capitalize on this employee benefit? Some thought starters below…
- Set expectations and over communicate
- Utilize a project management tool
- More 1 on 1s or check-ins
- Create tangible employee goals
- Set realistic company goals
At EBD, we’re all about autonomy and flexible schedules. Our team thrives in this type of company dynamic – mainly because we’ve been running the business this way since its inception in 2017. While not everyone works well in this type of environment, there are some that really like it and can grow their career quicker because of it.
Out of the gate, individuals’ autonomous skills are immediately put to the test, resulting in a hire>fire situation OR trust on both sides is built almost overnight. You end up with a team of finely chiseled skill sets and a wider sense of belonging. This process was highly summarized, but you can imagine this framework playing out. Your team begins rowing together because if they don’t it will be abundantly clear. When that happens, your team starts to really enjoy work.
What happens to company culture when we lack facetime? As stated before, if you do a good job building trust on both sides, your team’s sense of belonging is heightened and synergy is created. Facetime is still critical, but with more flexibility and autonomy, the team is less-stressed and is incentivized to be more effective. Culture is inevitably created around these factors, and strengthened by adding facetime when possible. At EBD, we use a hybrid approach to ensure there is facetime throughout the week.
The benefits of WFH lifestyle are certainly there, but given that it’s still new territory it’s going to take time until more businesses follow suit. From a company standpoint, you give freedom in return for happier, more effective workers. For employees, it creates a work life balance that cannot be beat, but requires proactiveness and is not conducive for all types of people.
WFH certainly isn’t going away any time soon, so take the time to weigh the benefits as an employee or company. Upwork estimates that 22% of the workforce will be remote by the year 2025, approximately 1 in 4 workers in the US will work remotely. Something to chew on.