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A few months into the pandemic, it is clear for everyone that work-from-anywhere is here to stay. While some organizations like twitter have rolled out the “Work from home forever” policy, Amazon recently signed leases for a total of 900,000 feet of office space in six cities around the United States, citing the lack of spontaneity in virtual teamwork. Which one is the correct way? Does either of the approaches provide the right answer, or is the answer somewhere in the middle? An analysis by McKinsey finds that the potential for remote work is concentrated among highly skilled and educated associates in a small number of industries, occupations, and geographies – and lists certain industries like finance, software and others as the ones where the capacity to derive advantages from ‘work from anywhere’ policies is high.

Where exactly is ‘Anywhere’?

Anywhere with a good internet connection, that is. In certain cases, associates are working from remote hill stations while others try their best to find a quiet corner from home. While some managers fear that ‘working from hills’ will reduce the output of their subordinates, reports suggest the contrary. Moreover, keeping associates safe at this time is the best course of action for companies. The human element is the key to success, putting the associates and customers of an organization on par. When coupled with adequate support in terms of security and maintaining the work/life balance, work from anywhere policies can let organizations reap the rewards of having a content workforce in future.

Is Work from anywhere the only way to go?

Yes, and no. While certain skillsets make it easy for the work to be done remotely (coding, software maintenance, generating reports) it does not mean that people working in those positions want to work in a secluded way, i.e., working from anywhere but office. It is better to evaluate cases and provide multiple flexi-time options, until it is safe for associates and customers to return to physical workplaces. In fact, more employers are seeing better productivity from their remote workers. Some chief executives even express confidence that remote work can continue. Multi-layered support and associate engagement initiatives across various regions are vital in this regard: steps like daily wellness check-ins of associates can help ensure their health and productive engagement, while providing augmented health insurance for associates takes away the financial anxiety encountered by some. Core team of leaders should be consistently monitoring the situation and convey appropriate contingency plans, and hold regular catch-ups for consistent associate communication covering updates on the company policies. Helping associates, be the ones on bench or those assigned to a project, in upskilling themselves across various businesses through project shadowing, internal projects and high-touch training can keep the morale high.

Invest in a highway to anywhere

Investments into and adoption of industry leading IT infrastructure and security platforms are paramount when it comes to the ‘work from anywhere’ culture. A 2020 survey by AT&T Cybersecurity and Enterprise Strategy Group reveals that only 40% of the enterprises can successfully address around 90% of security events and alerts on a monthly basis. The 2020 Future of Work survey by Xerox shows that IT support (35%), inadequate workflow solutions (27%), lack of communication and collaboration tools (22%) and lack of cloud-based solutions (10%) were the highest scoring pain points of shifting work remotely. Investing in simplifying these issues should be the primary concern of any organization.

Reconfigure the delivery path

Swift reengineering of the delivery approach is another priority while adopting the work from anywhere culture. With associates in different locations, time zones even, communication and collaboration becomes difficult. Using multi-channel communication tools across all business and project stakeholders to dispense timely information and insights will help in maintaining the confidence of customers. Also, project delivery plans need to be relooked, with updates from associates keeping the remote locations in mind.  Easy access of project resources and program health metrics enable timely updates to clients and stakeholders alike, keeping them on the same page. Creating a proactive feedback engine keeps 100% alignment to the objectives of the customers.

The road (to anywhere) ahead

While remote work might not be the only way going forward, its importance for associates and their employers increase. The pandemic has made organizations let go of their previous hesitations and dive in on the remote work culture. While some are still trying to exert old norms in the form of new tools, the ones who succeed are those organizations that value the time of their employees. With proper assistance from expert service providers, organizations can accelerate to the next shift in workplace norms and see an improvement in the efficiency and job satisfaction among their associates.

Article by

Sunil Peter

Associate Vice President, Process, Methods & Tools