The 23rd March 2020 was a red-letter day for us all here in London and the UK. That was the day the country went into lockdown in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world. Almost overnight, the nation’s gradual move toward remote working went into overdrive as we all rushed to work from home. Now we’ve proven without doubt that many of us can work effectively from wherever we can access a Wi-Fi connection, the right technology and efficient remote IT support. Already though, experts predict that the new post-Covid-19 normal is beginning to evolve from work from home (WFH) to work from anywhere (WFA).
Why? For starters, the phrase ‘work from home’ is poor branding, precisely because it fails to communicate the fundamental freedom that comes with this new, highly flexible work opportunity. It’s not about further locking us down in our homes where there are so many distractions – from Netflix and the kids being home from school to the dog needing a walk – it’s about empowering us to think and work exactly where we are personally most productive.
So how do we get from work from home to work from anywhere?
In this blog post we’re going to take a closer look at how your small to medium-sized London-based business could develop your Coronavirus-driven ‘work from home’ policy into ‘work from anywhere’ version. In this article, then, you’ll discover:
WFH and WFA – the same but different?
It’s simple. Working from home is exactly that. Essentially, setting up a desk wherever you can find space, from a spare bedroom or kitchen or dinning room table to a study. But then this situation comes with many potential distractions, as we mentioned in the introduction to this article.
On the other hand, working from anywhere is far more flexible and can fit the needs of the business and the employee alike. As long as you have an appropriate job role, a decent Wi-Fi connection, the right tech and efficient and an effective managed IT support services to look after your networking and business continuity needs, you can work from anywhere. And working from anywhere is all about complete choice and versatility.
WFA – flexibility comes as standard
Some working from home is perfectly acceptable as part of a wider work from anywhere policy but WFA can include all sorts of appropriate places, from café and library to the train, bus, coach, hotel or designated hot-desk in the company’s offices. In a city like London there’s lots of possible places to work. The point is to untether our busy schedules and the stresses associated with them to allow us to work where we work best.
Why working from anywhere could work wonders for your business
All the recent research suggests that WFA delivers greater flexibility, productivity and employee satisfaction, when compared to the standard WFH model or the traditional office-based nine to five.
Crucially, a work from anywhere policy helps to solve two of the key problems of work from home – loneliness and isolation. If you can work anywhere there’s Wi-Fi, including time spent in the office or your favourite coffee shop, you’re surrounded by people and the social interaction they create.
The benefits of work from anywhere in detail
WFA delivers flexibility for people, especially those with other commitments, such as childcare or elderly relatives – both realities in the place where our working and private lives collide.
Work from anywhere is the perfect workaround for such real world issues as GP or dental appointments, because the research shows employees can be trusted to work from home later in the evening to make up for time lost during the day.
The UK’s professional HR body the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) reports that flexible workers were significantly more satisfied with their work-life balance (65%) than non-flexible workers (47%).
Commuting (and getting between meetings in different locations) consumes time and money, while increasing stress levels; especially in and around London. Empowering your people to work from anywhere – so they can avoid traffic jams and over crowded public transport – will greatly reduce this wasteful activity and its detrimental health impacts.
The Covid-19 pandemic has enabled employers to prove that their people can and do function just as effectively when working remotely. Plus industry examples suggest that flexible working actually increases productivity.
This is further enhanced by your people’s ability to choose the WFA location best suited to the tasks ahead of them for that day. Working on a team project that involves collaboration with colleagues? Pop into the office. Working on a detailed report that requires research and peace and quiet? Head for the public library.
Allowing your people to work from anywhere massively increases the talent pool available to you when you’re looking to recruit and retain the best people, as location is no longer a limitation. You could hire from across London, the UK or even the world.
Property costs are a major overhead for London’s businesses. So with fewer of your people being office based you could shrink the size and cost of your premises.
Factors to consider for an effective WFA policy
Like any other major business decision, a work from home policy needs consideration, planning and implementation. And all with a careful eye on the following:
Your policy must be clear, simple, efficient and effective – as should your messaging with employees, clients/customers and partners – so everyone knows what’s expected of them and the best ways to carry their roles.
Appoint a member of your senior team to manage the project and process to demonstrate your commitment to the change.
Clear two-way communication, asking for feedback, setting up a conduit for gathering comments and acting upon any concerns raised are all vital.
Run an anonymous employee survey (TINYpulse is a good tool for this), encourage everyone to participate, publish the results and show how you’re acting upon your findings. It will help you get buy-in from your team for your WFA policy.
Ask your in-house experts
Listen carefully to what your specific teams with specialist knowledge have to say on any WFA policy. Your HR and legal teams, for example, will undoubtedly have expert and experienced insights to offer.
Technology is instrumental in making your work from anywhere policy possible. All the relevant members of your team must have access to the right IT, backed up with the right 24 7 outsourced IT support, to be able to work effectively from anywhere.
Using popular Cloud-based collaboration and productivity platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Google G Suite – with helpdesk support to maintain business continuity – will ensure you maintain your collaborative team spirit.
Different strokes for different folk
Not every job can be done in a WFA way, so you need to design separate policies for those people that can and those that can’t.
Creating a coherent WFA policy
To work effectively and efficiently your WFA policy needs to be thorough, relevant and accessible so your people are clear about what is expected of them, when and where. Here’s some guidance on what you should include:
Introduction and description
Outline what the policy is for, how it fits into the company operation and who’s covered in terms of job role, seniority and working hours. Be specific and include any exceptions to the rule.
Define work from anywhere
‘Work from anywhere’ is a broad-brush term and will mean different things to different businesses. However, ensure your policy has a specific and coherent definition, so that your team is crystal clear on what the terminology means to you and them.
Consider specifying the right places (for example, café, yes; pub, no) it’s permissible to work and during what times.
Health & safety
As an employer you will still have a duty of care, whether employees are working in the office or from anywhere else. So prioritise employee safety and do your best to ensure that any places your people choose to work are aligned with accepted health & safety standards.
Describe the technology, tools and support available
List the technology, equipment, devices, software and services that all your WFA employees are entitled to and advise (or train) them on how those resources are best utilised. As we mentioned above, give your team access to Cloud-based collaboration tools. Be specific about what the equipment can be used for (ie business use only) and what should and should not be accessed, opened or stored on the technology you’re supplying.
Provide 24 7 outsourced or managed IT support so your WFA people have fast, simple access to the computer support that’ll keep your tech working as it should.
Robust and effective cybersecurity systems and tools should be installed for all your WFA equipment, particularly wherever it accesses your company network. Your remote IT support partner can assist with this.
Clarify how everything is to be paid for
Many companies already have expense policies in place that allow employees to buy key equipment for remote use (laptops and monitors, for example), which often includes subsidising Internet access. But should you also pay for, say, coffee shop refreshments and so on, if that’s where your team works most?
Clarify expected lines of communication
The most effective communication is two-way, so outline when and how your people should be contactable and how they let their managers know where they are at any given time. Perhaps a daily or weekly schedule could be provided?
Devise a WFA schedule
Clearly indicate how much flexibility is included in your WFA policy. Can people work from anywhere five days a week? Might your team to be divided into two, with one half working Monday to Wednesday in the office and the other half working Wednesday to Friday? Perhaps Friday and Monday are the best days for your team to work from anywhere? As you can see, there are lots of options open to you.
Specifiy when your WFA people are required to attend the office
List all the reasons and times your people will be expected to come into the office. Factors such as scheduled meetings, appraisals and seasonal demand, for example, might be included here.
Where to go for the best in managed IT support services
The Covid-19 lockdown and recent research shows how evolving your work from home policy into a proactive work from anywhere policy, is an investment in the wellbeing, effectiveness and productivity of your team, and ultimately, the profitability and growth of your small to medium-sized business.
So if your people have the right roles – and can find the right places – for a successful work from anywhere policy, the team here at totality services can help turn that policy into practical reality with our highly experienced and expert 24 7 outsourced IT support.
Our remote IT support, with computer support and helpdesk support included, has earned us no less than two consecutive Feefo Gold Trusted Service Awards, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google and a 98% client retention rate.
So for a friendly, confidential and no obligation chat about your requirements why not call the go to managed IT support team for London?