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Strong opinions and shared thoughts on companies, culture and Work — by the makers and friends of Ninety.io


5 Tips to Convert Your Team to Work From Anywhere Today

5 Tips to Convert Your Team to Work From Anywhere Today

Summary: This article provides actionable advice, considerations and discussion points for employees, teams and organizations as we transition into a Work From Anywhere World™. For those exploring the idea of working from anywhere for their teams be it in-office, fully remote or a hybrid approach — this one’s for you!

At Ninety®, we have made building our expertise on what WFA means to small and mid-sized companies a top priority. As we work with, and support, our 3,300+ clients, it has become clear that many people are wrestling with the implications of this New Age of Work.

In our opinion, the transition to WFA is giving employees more of a voice in terms of the physical location from which they choose to Work. It could mean in the office, it could mean from home, it could mean from an RV or a campsite (assuming they can get internet and / or mobile service if they need such to Work), it could mean from a co-working space, it could mean from a hotel, etc. The big idea behind WFA is, subject to your agreement with your colleagues (more to follow), you get to work from anywhere. 

Here are five tips to help you and your team better transition into a Work From Anywhere World™.

1. Talk with your boss

To state the obvious, not everyone can WFA. There are lots of jobs that require onsite work. You’ll see them associated with labs, hospitals, factories, warehouses, restaurants and retail stores to name but a few. There are also many office jobs that require onsite work such as a receptionist, a security officer, or a site manager.  To repeat, not every job is suitable for WFA. 

In addition, WFA may not make sense initially for certain jobs that require a lot of hands-on training. 

Finally, some companies and / or teams may simply require onsite Work throughout the workweek. There is no perfect / obvious answer as we transition into this New Age of Work and it's totally OK for people and leaders to figure out what makes the most sense, not just for their company but for their unique team. A lot of thought is going to go into figuring this stuff out. People are going to be assessing the pros and cons through a number of dimensions, not the least of which are productivity, culture, communication, levels of service and durability.

2. Use a “clean slate” mindset 

Change can be overwhelming.

When faced with making an important decision, people have a tendency to stick to what they know and how they do things. Fact is, the majority of us possess personalities that are predisposed toward the status quo. When offered a new or innovative way of doing anything, most of us default to the old, reliable way, the way it’s always been done because it has worked for years, if not decades. Why take on this change when there are so many other priorities and / or opportunities?

With big transformations, it can be helpful to view things with a “clean slate” mindset: If we had started this company or team today, how would we approach WFA? 

Ask yourself:

  • What are my options?
  • What’s best for both our company and my team, not just today but over the long run?
  • What’s best for how my team serves / works with the other teams with whom we consistently interact?
  • Can I take my thoughts and create a list of pros and cons, and can I turn the list into a reasonably thoughtful cost / benefits analysis that I can share with my colleagues for discussion, feedback and advice?
  • What makes sense for me right now given everything I have going on both professionally and personally?

Remote Work has a lot of advantages over working in an office. There’s no commute cutting into your personal and family time. You’re not limited to a 50-mile radius of the office when you’re trying to hire top talent. It’s easy to pop out for a doctor’s appointment or pick up a sick child from school.

But as anyone who has worked remotely for a few months will tell you, there’s a big downside: isolation. According to a survey conducted in 2020 by ServiceNow, the most common challenge people working remotely said they faced (53%) was feeling disconnected or alone.

Human beings need relationships to meet our innate Need for belonging. Ninety’s founder, Mark Abbott, writes about the seven kinds of human relationships (7Rs) in a Medium post, but here, we will confine ourselves to just two: our relationships to others and to our tribes. These two relationships are foundational to Work, because human beings are social creatures; it’s nearly impossible for us to Work completely alone. According to research from Gallup, team members who say they have a best friend at Work are seven times more likely than those who don’t to be engaged in their Work and achieve higher quality.  They are even less likely to get injured on the job.


3. Talk About the Benefits 

Some careers and employees have been enjoying the benefits of WFA long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire industries such as entertainment, writing/publishing and others have found WFA just as productive and focused as those working in an office. 

Other benefits to WFA include our ability to:

Balance Life Better. Employees can spend more time with family members and can stay more active with the ability to squeeze in exercise before, after or in between work.

Stress Less About Commuting. Not only is commute time decreased and associated costs removed, but employees can also experience less stress and anxiety. Research shows that commuting just 10 miles to work each day is associated with health issues like higher cholesterol, elevated blood sugar levels and increased risk of depression.

Lift Location Limitations. People are freer to consider a broader range of job opportunities that aren’t limited by geographic location. At the same time, companies can tap into much larger pools of talent.

Embrace Diversity and Inclusion. WFA enables companies to hire people from different locales, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and with different perspectives.

Save Money. Employers can save money on not just office space but likely find great talent at better pay rates. People can save money on gas, car maintenance, transportation, parking fees, a professional wardrobe, lunches, coffee, snacks and more.

Help the Environment. Working at least part-time from home supports a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with an average of 7.8 billion fewer vehicle miles traveled each year and $980 million in oil savings. WFA has the same potential impact on air quality as planting an entire forest of 91 million trees.

Increase Productivity and Performance. WFA usually comes with fewer interruptions, less office politics, a quieter noise level and more efficient meetings. WFA employees and the companies they work for tend to focus on what really matters — Getting Smart Stuff Done™.

Live A Happier, Healthier Work Life. Studies show that 72% of employers say employees are sticking with their employer when they have WFA options. WFA employees tend to be happier and more loyal employees because they have less stress and more time for personal hobbies and interests. They feel their personal relationships are also improved, and that includes work relationships. WFA can also help employees make healthy choices.

4. Prepare for Uncertainties 

During the decision process, employees will need to have conversations with themselves, their loved ones and their leaders around certain uncertainties, such as:

  • Do we have the tools we need to succeed when working from anywhere?
  • Will it affect my career if I choose to WFA?
  • Will I have to take a pay cut to WFA? 
  • Will my relationships with co-workers change if we’re not together in person?
  • Will I still have the same opportunity for advancement if I choose to WFA

5. Prepare Your Organization

There is no perfect answer as we move into this Work From Anywhere World™. Every company is unique in terms of who it is, what it does, and how it serves and creates value. High Trust Companies (HTC’s) endeavor to be as open as possible with their employees about where their heads are in terms of WFA. It’s 1000% OK if you don’t know and are still trying to figure it out. Your employees will understand if you share your thoughts on not just the pros and cons but the things that you are not 100% certain about. In my opinion, not only will every company end up needing to take a position on WFA, but I think each team will need to do the same. Ultimately, the company and team leaders are responsible for building a company composed of great teams that love not just working well together but working well with the other teams. To make this transformational shift into a Work From Anywhere World easier, companies are embracing the use of what some refer to as a “company operating system” (COS) to stay connected, productive and aligned. The right technology becomes essential. The Ninety SaaS platform supports the Entrepreneurial Operating System® - one of the more popular COS’s - and is composed of a collection of what we call Whole Company Tools™ that make it Almost Easy™ for teams to WFA.

Action Items

  • Determine if your current job allows WFA by talking with your boss and team. If so, move forward with the next steps.
  • Create a pros and cons list compiled with the benefits and the uncertainties that you and your team may experience.
  • While there's no perfect playbook to move to a completely WFA World, a Company Operating System is the key to staying connected, productive and aligned.

About the Author

Mark Abbott is the Visionary/Founder of Ninety.io and a sought-after business leader, writer and executive-team coach. With nearly four decades of experience with early stage, small and mid-sized companies as a lender, investor and business builder, his passion centers on helping people build extraordinarily productive, humane and resilient companies. He's helped successfully build, lead and invest in dozens of organizations.

Learn about Ninety and request a free trial at: https://www.ninety.io/sign-up.

Learn more about Mark at: http://markabbott.global/

Read Mark's essays at: https://markabbottglobal.medium.com/

Topics: Organizations

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