Work From Anywhere is a relatively new term that is being used along with Work From Home. There is an interesting differentiation to consider here because while many are working from home now, remote work can be done from anywhere. I read this article from the Harvard Business Review which explains both concepts and the history behind Working From Home.
We feel like WFH is new because it is new to us. It is an unexpected way to for us to work. We didn't necessarily consider it for ourselves and we certainly weren't prepared for working this way to occur so abruptly in our work lives. According to this article, WFH began in the 1970's as soaring gasoline prices caused by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo made commuting more expensive. Personal computers, the internet, email, broadband connectivity, laptops, cell phones, cloud computing, and videotelephony increased the adoption of WFH in the 2000s. Millennials loved it and it became a trendy / cool way to work.
What is really cool about it is that studies show that productivity increases up to 22% or more when workers work from home, and there are other benefits for individuals, companies, and society. For individuals: freedom to live anywhere and better quality of life. For companies: increased employee engagement (workers are happier and more productive) and reduced real estate costs. For society: it has the potential to reverse the brain drain that often plagues emerging markets, small towns, and rural locations and helps the environment with a significant reduction in carbon emissions.
The question being asked now, is whether WFA is here to stay and if all-remote or majority-remote organizations are the future of knowledge work. There are concerns and challenges for sure, yet as we establish best practices, many believe these hurdles can be overcome to make this workstyle manageable and successful.
The article's author says the short answer to whether WFA is possible is what is needed to make it possible--and that is management. “If all senior leaders are working from an office, then workers would be drawn to that location to get face time,” one all-remote middle manager told me. But if leaders support synchronous and asynchronous communication, brainstorming, and problem-solving; lead initiatives to codify knowledge online; encourage virtual socialization, team building, and mentoring; invest in and enforce data security; work with government stakeholders to ensure regulatory compliance; and set an example by becoming WFA employees themselves, all-remote organizations may indeed emerge as the future of work.
I remain a WFH champion and since the pandemic began, I have been blogging about how to make working from home work for you with my tips on how to optimize your work from home workspace environment, organization, productivity, and developing a mindset that increasing your productivity while working from home increases your peace. What do you think? Let's get this discussion going! Place your thoughts in a post or contact me to talk about it.