During the pandemic, many office workers discovered that with the support of cloud technology, they could truly work from anywhere – with some even managing to work productively from locations in which they found themselves stuck due to lockdowns and border closures.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to a desire to push the boundaries of remote working further than ever before. Since 2020, employers have seen a sharp rise in demands for flexible working and “flexcations” with IWG reporting that 88% of employees plan to “work from anywhere” this year, 57% plan to extend vacations abroad to include some work. Some employers have already responded to this by launching policies encouraging people to work from another location globally from time to time, either as a way to extend their vacation possibilities, explore the experience of living abroad prior to a move or maximise time with family living abroad. Additionally, for those looking for a change of scene, temporarily switching cities can be a less disruptive alternative to changing their role or employer.
As we continue to explore how far we can evolve beyond the working habits of the 20th Century, what do employers need to know about implementing a policy of this kind? Here are some questions to ask:
How will it impact workflow? While some kinds of work can easily be done in a different place and time zone, others cannot. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of how working from anywhere affects different types of work and brief your teams and managers on how to get the best out of people when they’re working across diverse locations.
What are the legal implications? Make sure your people teams understand how working from another location impacts practical issues such as tax and visa status. You may need to draft different policies for people planning to work from their country of origin, from a foreign location or in another location within the same country.
How do I make it fair? Obviously, some roles will lend themselves to flexibility of place more than others – and you’ll want to avoid everyone disappearing for the same six weeks over the summer. It’s vital to gather inputs from colleagues in different roles and at different life stages so you can craft a policy that’s as fair as possible to everyone. Consider offering a comparable benefit – perhaps flexibility on time – to those for whom flexibility of space is less of an option.
Finally, if this sort of policy isn’t something you’ve thought about implementing yet, you might want to consider its role in the war on talent: 71% of employees would consider a new role that allowed them to work from anywhere.
This Human Resources Director article looks into the impact of flexcations on employee experience further.