We all feel that the world of work is changing, right? Driven by globalization, digitalization, and global crisis, the work-from-anywhere concept has become one of the working world’s answers to these rapid challenges. Work wherever you can be productive – under palm trees, by the sea or on a lonely mountain, as long as there is a solid internet connection.
A Brief History of Remote Work.
If you look back in time, work models such as working from home or location-independent working have been in existence for about 50 years.
It began with the introduction of the first work from home jobs in the 1970s, prompted by soaring gasoline prices as a result of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Consequently, commuting became more expensive. These measures allowed people to work from their homes, coworking spaces, coffee shops and other locations for the first time…
Ultimately, thanks to the advent of computers, laptops and lastly the internet in the 1990s, employees’ geographic flexibility increased significantly.
Working from Home vs. Working from Anywhere.
There are various types of geographic flexibility that are categorized as “remote work” the option to work from any remote location away from company premises. Let’s first clarify what constitutes remote work before we delve into the difference between working from home and working from anywhere.
In distinction to working from home, working from anywhere means working from any other appropriate location to perform your job, except from your home address.
Just imagine this: Instead of the rainy weather in Germany, you wake up in the morning and smell the fresh sea air. While you enjoy the first coffee in the morning sun with bare feet on sand your laptop is slowly booting up.
Sounds too good to be true? Then read on attentively now…
Working From Anywhere Increases Your Productivity by 4.4 Percent.*
According to Nicholas Bloom, employees that are having the opportunity to work remotely, show an increase in work output of 4.4 percent when in the work from anywhere program compared to the baseline of when the employee was in the work from home program.
What are the working from anywhere benefits for employees?
- Possibility to travel to other countries, visit family / friends
- If an employee can work fully remote from another region / country, living in the preferred geographical location will also result in greater satisfaction or may also retain top international talent, that may want to move back to their home country for more proximity to their family / friend
- Broaden horizon= learn a new language, getting to know new cultures
- Different environment can also spark creativity and result in new ideas
What are the working from home benefits for employees?
- Increase of freedom / flexibility regarding reconciling work and family/private life – e.g. emergency childcare is guaranteed, open the door for technicians…
- Saving time (and money) that would otherwise be spent on a long commute allows employees to have better work-life balance and adds hours back into their days.
- More focus and less distractions – depends of course on the home situation
- Increases wellbeing = Allows workers to control ambient workspace elements such as clothing, layout, music
- Lower rental costs when a high-priced apartment is not needed in the city.
What are the benefits for employers?
- Attract talent: Working from home is a standard demanded by talents, Working from anywher is a great benefit, which especially international talents are seeking for
- Saves money: Fewer sick days, saving on rent and equipment, if a free desk policy is implemented
By implementing such a model, companies also have a number of other advantages, such as saving on rent for office space, electricity and infrastructure costs, or the saved workspace can be converted into collaborative space.
It quickly becomes clear that this concept is beneficial for both employees and employers. Doesn’t it?
The Other Side of the Coin.
As with everything, there are some challenges you need to consider.
Depending on the duration of working from anywhere, physical distance can have an impact on your company culture. Face-to-face contact is limited, spontaneous conversations decrease, and you might feel socially and professionally isolated, disconnected from colleagues and the company itself. However, appropriate collaboration tools and a meeting structure designed for this purpose can remedy the situation.
But daily meetings and workshops also face hybrid challenges.
- time differences can reduce the daily joint working and coordination time.
- technical equipment of laptops, cell phones, headsets, cameras etc. must be available
- a stable and strong internet connection forms the basis of course
- without physical presence it is more difficult to assess how the other person is doing, what he feels and thinks. Misunderstandings can therefore arise quickly
Accordingly, clear guidelines are needed for successful hybrid work (e.g. camera on / off, etc.).
The CheMondis Approach.
As a startup, we certainly would like to embrace this flexibility in terms of work location. At the same time, we believe that our success is largely determined by our culture and a shared sense of community that requires personal and physical interaction.
Therefore, the following “CheMondis way of working” is the current approach that works best for us.
- There is no daily obligation to work from the office
- Some teams define autonomously a minimum of 2 days per week to work together from the office
- Besides that, everyone has the opportunity to work from anywhere for a defined amount of days per year – as we’re located in Germany, this is currently limited to Europe
- Due to this way of working, all our meetings are held hybrid – for everyone in the office in presence and for everyone else remotely. No question that we had to get used to it.
We have been practicing this way of working for about six months now and with great success. Everyone enjoys the time together in the office but equally the flexibility to decide working from another location from time to time. Especially our “work from anywhere” offer has been used extensively – in the last 6 months 12 employees have been working from other locations than their homes or the office. In total we have worked 81 days from 7 countries.
It was precisely during this time, after a long home office period, that we were able to achieve great entrepreneurial success. Flexibility and self-determination due to the working from anywhere model have been a huge boost to our performance.
Ready for the Beach?
The prerequisites for successful remote work must, of course, go hand in hand with organizational procedures, corporate and management culture, appropriate equipment and, obviously, a role that allows working online. Would you offer the remote work option to individual employees only or to nobody at all in this case? There are parameters must be considered before implementing such a model. Also, a high administrative effort and costs for implementation and for processing must be considered and well planned – policies, legal prerequisites, defined processes regarding taxation and social security, as well as visa-support are required depending on the scope of flexibility offered.
You probably guessed it already, there is no one fits all solution. Every company will have to determine which working model fits it best – physical presence in the office, working from home, working from anywhere or as a first iteration from all over your country, etc. Of course, under the legal framework that your country provides for it.
If you take another look at the advantages for companies and employees and consider the ongoing digitization and globalization, it quickly becomes clear where the journey is heading. We are heading straight for a future in which the option for remote work will no longer be just a benefit, but a standard. Many international companies, such as Google or SAP, are pioneers in this field and have already successfully implemented such extremely flexible and innovative solutions.
Thank you for taking the time to read the CheMondis Blog.
Prithwiraj, R., Cirrus Foroughi, C., Larson, B. (2020). Work-From-Anywhere: The Productivity Effects of Geographic Flexibility. Harvard Business School.
WeWork (2020). The benefits of remote work – for both employees and managers.