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Remote work

The Pros and Cons of Embracing ‘Work from Anywhere’ in Your Business

the pros and cons of work from anywhere

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced a move towards remote work, with many still favoring a remote-first approach, more recently, the concept of ‘work from anywhere’ (WFA) has emerged as a transformative force in the world of business. It’s still far from the norm, but an increasing number of businesses are empowering their employees to take complete ownership of their locations. 

Often misconstrued as an opportunity for endless ‘workcations’, WFA actually empowers complete flexibility and delivers immense work-life balance. If, for example, you have family all over the world, your partner travels a lot for work and you want to join them, or your kids live across the country, WFA enables you to spend time with loved ones at no detriment to delivering in your role.

If you’re considering WFA for your business, you’ll be wondering about the potential pitfalls that need to be carefully considered. Let’s explore the pros and cons of ‘work from anywhere’ models for your business.

The benefits:

  • Enhanced Flexibility: 59% of employees in the US want to continue remote work long term. The primary allure is flexibility; employees can work from diverse locations, eliminating the need for commuting and adhering to rigid office hours.
  • Improved Productivity: Contrary to fearmongering from those insisting we should all return to the office, remote work often results in increased productivity. In fact, remote employees tend to work longer hours and are 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts. Reduced distractions and the absence of office-related interruptions play a significant role.
  • Cost Savings: For both businesses and employees, remote work equates to substantial cost savings. Businesses have an opportunity to reduce spend on office space as a minimum. For individuals, you lose costs for commuting, work attire, and daily meals. The average employee can save approximately $4,000 annually by working remotely.
  • Access to Global Talent: The ‘work from anywhere’ model expands your talent pool beyond geographical constraints. Businesses gain access to a diverse range of skilled professionals, promoting innovative solutions and ideas.
  • Environmental Benefits: Remote work contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions, and decreased commuting results in less traffic congestion and lower energy consumption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, energy consumption declined significantly during the pandemic due to remote work arrangements.

The challenges:

  • Social Isolation: One of the most significant drawbacks is the potential for employee isolation: 22% of remote workers struggle with loneliness. The absence of face-to-face interactions has potential impacts on team cohesion and morale, so virtual events and team building sessions are crucial.
  • Communication Challenges: Despite advanced technology, communication gaps can persist in remote settings. The absence of in-person interactions may lead to misinterpretations of written messages. Ensuring clear and effective communication becomes paramount. Try setting processes to manage how teams interact: when is it an email, a slack, or a meeting? Can you replace in-person strategizing with tools like Miro and Notion? Ask for feedback on where the gaps are and work to fill them to eliminate communication issues.
  • Work-Life Balance: The flip-side of the work-life balance remote working affords many comes in a lack of boundaries. For those working from home – or wherever they may be – creating defined working times is more challenging, with figures suggesting remote workers contribute three hours more per day than their office counterparts. Encouraging your team to establish firm boundaries – including when and where you work – are crucial to preventing burnout.
  • Security Risks: Remote work can expose businesses to cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Cyber attacks surged during the pandemic, with phishing attempts increasing by 600%. Robust security measures (a combination of policies and software) are imperative to safeguard remote work environments.
  • Inequality and Disconnection: Not all employees can seamlessly embrace remote work. Lower-income workers often lack the necessary resources and flexibility to create a suitable home office environment, with recent graduates often living in house shares or with parents. This can exacerbate income inequality within an organization.

The right fit?

While the pros and cons of ‘work from anywhere’ may appear balanced, most of the negatives can be offset with planning and support. ‘Work from anywhere’ is a trend that is here to stay, and its potential benefits cannot be ignored. Not least, the access to the best talent globally, without geographical restriction. 

A great way to mitigate several of the associated challenges is through providing professional coaching to your people (via online platforms, naturally!) Coaching provides invaluable guidance on boundary setting, fostering a sense of belonging among remote teams, and addressing the unique challenges posed by remote work. It also enhances communication skills, critical in a dispersed workforce. 

Implementing a ‘work from anywhere’ model requires careful consideration, and it’s certainly not suitable for every business. However, if you can facilitate WFA, you should: with the right support, strategic planning, and a focus on employee well-being, businesses can harness the potential of remote work and adapt to the changing landscape of the modern workplace.

Learn more about maintaining engagement in remote and hybrid settings.