The Work from Anywhere Transition is here. So much so, that I’m writing, editing, and publishing this very article right from my phone at a lovely park near my home in Canada. Who knows where your remote workers may be? Here I am in the park, prepping for this Work from Anywhere Transition, enjoying some sun, the right policies, mindset, and tools for the smoothest transition.
The Work from Anywhere Transition is not to be confused with working from home. This is about taking it a step further, with an increased level of autonomy and accountability on both the part of the employee and the employer for the highest chances of success for each. It’s just a question of how we will navigate it and how well we understand the new needs of employees and how to manage them.
People have been working remotely since long before Covid. But the pandemic has created a big shift and it will most likely not return to normal levels until long after the aftermath of the pandemic. So it’s up to us as managers to become proficient in the best policies, mindsets, and tools (aka software, technologies) to make this transition as smooth as possible for both the employee and the employer. As with any dramatic shift in markets, this is an opportunity for growth and advancement on individual and organizational levels. It’s just a matter of how you handle it.
I believe policies and rules can provide employees with the predictability that most people crave and help reduce stress among individuals and teams. This is especially important when you have a group of individuals who are not accustomed to working from home, and it’s a new experience for them. So let’s ease them through this transition by creating some predictable rules and policies to follow so that they are clear about what expectations to meet and what guidelines to follow. In addition, having an HR or employee handbook is extremely important for the manager to objectively complete performance reviews and feel confident and oriented about what goals the employees are expected to reach and how they may be achieved successfully.
Making the employee handbook available online in a shared system like HRIS, Microsoft Teams, or Google Docs is a great way to get everyone on the same page and access the information on demand easily and quickly. It should include company holidays, and if you’re a global company, make sure to include the company holidays that pertain to each country and culture. Putting those days on a unified calendar so that everyone’s clear about what holidays they can plan on getting and whether they will be paid for those holidays or not is also important. Having clear expectations is extremely important because you will be setting your team up for success while giving them realistic boundaries to work within, allowing flexibility to incorporate their work style.
Speaking of time, do we need the 8-hour workday anymore? How realistic is it given the flexibility of human nature, drive, and ability? I think not, in my company we have discovered that a 6-hour workday is optimal. The remaining two hours can be devoted to restoring and refreshing the brain, aka taking a break and being the best employee you can be for yourself and the company.
Now let’s start with mindset, we at Thinkbridge call the work from anywhere strategy a mindset. It begins with the premise that, in our case, we are all remote. We may never get to meet every team member in person. That may not even matter. Instead, we focus on what matters most; results, not limited to financial gain or ROI for the company, but the individual employee. This is a new mindset where the employee and the employer are mutually accountable for the success of the company and the employees’ careers within the company. Although not revolutionary, this may be kind of a wild concept for some managers. How do we do it? We start by deleting old files, legacy information, and processes we have stored in our minds that just tend to get in the way of downloading new information.
How does this relate to working from anywhere, you may ask? When you’re working from anywhere, you must rely on being extremely organized, focused, and accountable, even when no one is looking, well, maybe just your adorable feline friend. How can we absorb, retain, learn and grow in new ways of working and thinking if we don’t disregard ineffective or bad habits from the past? No, I am not faulting the traditional office hang-out at the water dispenser. That type of social interaction is critical to forming trust and collaboration among teams. But now that there is no communal water fountain, we must invent new ways of connecting and communicating with teammates to get to know them on a level needed for them to be productive and happy co-workers. We spoke of autonomy earlier, and it is critical to give employees freedom and autonomy during this setup. Trust plays an essential factor in establishing autonomy. The policies have set out the expectations, so it helps to treat the employees as responsible adults and allow them to complete their tasks with autonomy and the incorporation of their particular skills and abilities. There are many ways to stay abreast of your co-workers’ activities. This takes me to the next dimension of managing the work from anywhere transition, which is technology.
As an HR leader for a tech company, you’d think the ideal work from anywhere tools would be very easy to implement. Well, it is, once you’ve accomplished the second step, changing the mindset. Now that the mindset is more open and able to download more new information, you’ll be ready to get your employees equipped and onboarded with suitable computers, printers, business applications, software, tools, and technologies that will all help them do their jobs in the most beneficial and efficient ways.
Every organization is different, but a standard set of day-to-day work management tools and business applications will keep your team running at optimal levels. This will be especially helpful if you have employees that have little to no remote work history. In addition, given the challenges of working from anywhere and the distractions that keep them from being happy, collaborating, distraction-free, focused, and productive, a standard set of day-to-day work management tools and business applications is essential.
To start, make sure that the employee knows where to access the employee handbook, and if there isn’t one, it’s advisable to create one that can be downloaded and printed if needed. People do still print. Next, you will want to work with your IT department to make sure that you give your employees access to modern collaboration or unified communication tools like Microsoft Teams or Google Chat, along with a related suite of document creation, sharing, and storing systems that allow you to keep moving and collaborating digitally. This empowers your employees by giving them the freedom to create, deliver, and share their best work from anywhere in the world. Employees can easily download the mobile app or desktop app and have a way to work from anywhere, anytime.
Your organization can take advantage of the many great business applications designed to optimize productivity, ensure quality and accuracy, and are tailored to your industry or work domain. These systems are critical and access customer information remotely with security built-in. Whether you’re a FinTech, PeopleTech, LegalTech, or beyond, the more you can empower your remote workers with sophisticated tools and technology to help them do their jobs better, the happier they will be and the longer they will stay. There are many benefits to that for both the company and the individual.
Making this transition is not always easy. It takes dedication and practice, and importantly, the belief that you can make it happen for your team. Companies will thrive if they can make this transition smoothly. If you don’t have the tools and technology necessary to make this transition, find the best software strategy companies to partner with, that will help you determine the correct use of meaningful technologies and accelerate the growth of your ‘work from anywhere team,’ helping them deliver your specific business needs and goals.