5 Tips to Convert Your Team to Work From Anywhere Today
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 is 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 thousands of 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 gives employees more of a voice regarding 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 or mobile service if they need such to work), it could tell from a co-working space, it could mean from a hotel, etc. The big idea behind WFA is that you get to work from anywhere, subject to your agreement with your colleagues (more to follow).
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. Many office jobs require onsite work, such as a receptionist, security officer, or 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 or teams may simply require onsite work throughout the workweek. There is no perfect answer as we transition into this New Age of Work, and it's OK for people and leaders to figure out what makes the most sense, not just for their company but their unique team. A lot of thought is going to go into figuring this stuff out. People will be assessing the pros and cons through several 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, most of us possess personalities predisposed to the status quo. When offered a new or innovative way of doing anything, most of us default to the old, reliable 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 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?
- 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 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 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 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 with others and 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.