The ordinary offices are out. The home office has proved useful during a pandemic, work from anywhere is just a step ahead
As a result of a coronavirus pandemic, home office has become a relatively common. And it is clear that the trend of working at our homes (or out of the offices in general) will affect the future of work. Therefore, companies should not underestimate it - on the one hand, it brings comfort and flexibility to employees, on the other hand, it can also be a source of stress and frustration. How does the companies can set up an efficient and sustainable work model from anywhere? The key to success is to become a virtual organization in every way. Let's take a closer look at the topic of workplace.
What else does the work-from-anywhere trend involve? In addition to the transformation of the workplace, the transformation will also affect, for example, the workload of employees or the way teams are managed. What does this mean in practice? Read in our article what wellbeing means for companies or what the hybrid working model entails.
It is understandable that the current effort is to make the change as quickly as possible, since the situation and restrictions keep changing. But, letting your staff work from home is just the first step in this journey to the new way of working. Functioning from home for months now, people have started to realize that the same thing can be done from a beachside cabana, or a forest cabin. So why does it need to be done only at home?
Having this kind of flexibility is important for many employees and can ultimately result in increased effort, elevated energy, higher enthusiasm and improved overall happiness and well-being. After all, a happy and loyal employee is the cornerstone of every company.
Working models await digital transformation
Everyone wants to be a digital nomad, but are we ready and willing to take on the responsibility and everything else that comes with it? What does digital nomadism actually mean? And above all – how should companies approach this trend? There are two perspectives on which we can look at this issue:
- First, taking the imminent reactions more conceptually, three phases of a proactive approach have been defined – Respond, Recover, Thrive – to guide the company over time, from quick wins to a sustainable virtual-friendly working environment.
- Second, the Future of Work concept that started to resonate couple of years ago covers most of the questions arising today. It is built around three thematic pillars that define the working environment of the company – workplace, workforce and work.
Both perspectives complement each other. And that’s the way companies should approach the issue of flexible out-of-office work. It is a long journey from quick success to stable work models, which brings many opportunities but also difficulties. In the next part of our article we focus on the first of pillars of the work of the future, which is the workplace.
Does your company deal with home office setup and distance work? Try to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you really ready to “send people home”?
- Do you elevate the “human” in human capital enough?
- How has the way you work shifted in the past year to reflect the changing environment?
Workplace: What does working remotely entail?
Let’s look at the topic of distance work through the eyes of companies that have decided to send their employees to the home office. What do they need? They bring their laptops, the IT department makes the necessary adjustments to the VPN and remote access to systems, a mouse and headset are provided, and the employees are ready to work from home. Simple and beautiful.
But are they comfortable enough to work? Aren‘t they sitting on a barstool at the kitchen table all day? This and other questions start to arise when looking at it from a broader perspective. Making a suitable working environment for employees is a company‘s responsibility.
Cash contributions, on top of standard salary, are usually used as the means to cover expenses for increased electricity consumption, ergonomic chairs, work tables, office supplies and so on. On the other hand, the financial aspect also resonates with eliminating or reducing the commute to the workplace, which saves both time and money. There is the possibility of finding cheaper accommodation further from the office, and besides that, you are finally available when the postman delivers a parcel.
Work from home vs. work from anywhere
Working from home has rules embedded in the law. For example in the Czech Republic, an employee can have only one fixed working place per day – working at any other places the same day is considered a business trip and travel expenses or per diems can be claimed.
When the company knows the address of your remote work, they can provide you with support to make the environment safe, comfortable and reliable for working. But when you decide to allow working from anywhere, all is fine at first… until it isn’t. An injury during work hours, but in a café, is something you will have a hard time explaining to the insurance company; not to mention the cyber security risks of public Wi-Fi.
Allowing work from anywhere therefore means sooner or later to deal with labor and tax laws of different countries. In addition, the rules can be very different from state to state, and it will always be necessary to individually examine to whom you are paying the tax, what is the amount of employee compensation and how to deal with possible damages or injuries. If the Spanish tax authorities catch your employee working from a Malaga beach, you can be fined up to 500k EUR. If there is suspicion, Austria won‘t hesitate to monitor people‘s actual work location and duration with the help of phone operators, enforcing adequate penalties if the law is broken.
If the comfort and productivity that such workplace freedom brings you is valued over the administrative burdens connected with working from anywhere, it certainly is something to invest in.
Collaborate online? No problem for most companies
One of the first challenges a remote-work model will encounter is collaboration. As virtual teams form, information needs to be exchanged, online meetings and workshops need to be held.
Software companies reacted pretty well to the current situation and started promoting or developing new tools that enable these activities in the virtual world. Presenting, white-boarding, paneling, collaborating on a file in real-time, these things are now easily done from home. The possibilities are vast and any company can find what suits them best.
Generally, working from home and collaboration has been pretty well handled by many companies. Either they were forced to adapt or such a concept was in their strategy already and the pandemic just served as a catalyst.
But now we are moving beyond the initial response and are starting to shape the new way of working. It‘s essential to avoid getting stuck in time and place and proceed to make one additional step that differentiates you. This step makes you recognizable and gives you an advantage over your competition. Now comes the time to leverage the crisis.
How to efficiently monitor and improve remote work?
It can be done using our APAT tool (Automatic Process Analytics Tool), which checks the work activity on a computer, monitors the workload of internal teams and identifies routine activities for individuals and teams. The collected data is used to suggest processes where automation and enhancement are desirable, all in accordance with legislative and security requirements. Also read our article on how companies can benefit from an adaptive or hybrid workplace.