The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot in the lives of humans on planet Earth. One of the most noticeable changes was where humans work. Working from home allowed individuals and families to safely quarantine while continuing to bring in an income.
But a new trend is emerging from the work-from-home concept.
“Work from wherever is the biggest trend, and it is bigger than work from home. It will impact the organization, the management, the infrastructure, the working hours, the commuting,” Gilles Raymond, CEO and Founder of Letsmeet, said.
According to Raymond, KastlePresence app and card access provider collected data from 2,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 47 states. In the top 10 biggest cities, building occupancy rates were 95 percent before the pandemic, but 40 percent after the pandemic began.
Raymond said that the pressure about work from wherever is understated. “I believe companies are not comfortable talking about it, as they are facing significant push backs from the employees regarding the back to the office,” he said. The consequence is that employees are pushing back with actual rationale such as that COVID-19 cases remain in the U.S., but also with weaker arguments such as their manager will not come into the office, so they will not come in either.
Companies mention fully-remote job positions in advertisements, Raymond said, to attract talent, while companies not offering the option, such as Google, list an office address where the applicant will work. “It is clearly an important element for recruiting talent,” Raymond said.
Work from wherever is more applicable for services companies, and also easier for companies with a technology culture. The trick with work from wherever is where you work. If you work from home, you need a separate office or to travel. “It means a good revenue, which is most likely the case when you are an experienced director or VP than a newcomer on the market,” Raymond said. “So, interesting enough, the pushback from the back to the office is coming more from the managers than the teams.”
“At a time where employees, and a new generation, are looking for a more balanced life,” work from wherever provides certain benefits, Raymond said, including time saved by not commuting. “Saving time, money and the environment make a lot of good reasons to not go back to the office.” Flexibility in an employee’s agenda and increased availability for family, kids and pets are also benefits.
On the other hand, work from wherever presents unique disadvantages. Legally, a working contract in the United States is not enforceable outside the country. For example, for an employee who decides to work in Europe. A legal entity in Europe will be necessary and a working agreement respecting European laws.
Work from wherever affects taxes. “Employees and companies need to pay different taxes and different social contributions to different organizations per country,” Raymond said. “As a reminder, in Sweden, social security costs 30 percent of the salary of the employee and is paid by the company. In France it is 42 percent.”
Another disadvantage is cybersecurity. Some countries are riskier when it comes to IT.
Raymond offered advice for companies that would like to try work from wherever, but don’t know where or how to start. “When you have massive push or trends about the way people want to work, it is counterproductive to fight or even slow down this evolution. It might be disturbing, scary, but you have no other choice than embrace the change.”
He compared a company to a school system when it comes to the bigger picture of life. “You have a pressure to arrive on time, you must justify yourself when you are late or not there. You report to your manager, you explain what you have done, and you have frequent evaluations.”
Companies are an extension of being in the school system.
“We will give more freedom and autonomy to the people. It means more trust, an approach based more on objective and value added than time spent.”
Rebecca, Barnabi, "Work from home? Future brings work from wherever jobs to the forefront" Augusta Free Press, 14 July 2022 https://augustafreepress.com/work-from-home-future-brings-work-from-wherever-jobs/