The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of heart breaking. I am so glad the world has come together to support each other in this global time of need. It has also given us an opportunity to evolve how we work, in my view for the better.
The lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19 have, I believe, allowed us to realise an evolution in how we work. For many of us, work has meant going to an office, or to a customer site. It didn’t mean working from home (WFH). Sure, many of us would check emails in a coffee shop before a meeting, or on a train, or on the sofa of an early evening. But I think there is more to be had. With the lockdowns we have all had to rapidly transition to remote working from home, and in many cases this happened almost seamlessly. I do recognise this has not been easy for some, and that it may not be appropriate to work remotely in many cases.
I have worked remotely for years, in a range of roles, in public, private and third sector organisations. In this time, I have chosen to work where is best suitable for the task in hand. For example, to give myself space to research/write a document I find it best to work from home (WFH) so as to be able to focus. For a meeting it may be in my company’s office, a client site, or a rented office space for the hour/day. For networking/socialising/catch up/collaborative working it will likely from my company offices or onsite with the team. I change location based on requirement.
In recent years, through use of collaboration technology (such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams particularly) I can work from anywhere (WFA), be it meetings, conference calls, collaboration on whiteboards, undertaking my daily tasks, etc. It really doesn’t matter where I am. With a focus on output, as opposed to ‘time’, we can flex and accommodate work, personal, social and down time needs. We can do this from anywhere, all we need is a half decent internet connection, and the right hardware and software. This doesn’t take much, a recent smartphone can achieve most of what we need to communicate and collaborate. Now add in tablets and laptops and we have all we need.
For example, today I worked in my home office using my work laptop and work phone – I find a combination of both invaluable, essentially using both for different roles/apps for different and complimentary uses. I then joined our global company’s first virtual conference (70,000+ attendees) due to COVID-19. I started watching on my laptop, transitioned to my tablet over dinner, and then to my phone whilst dog walking – it was a seamless experience. I managed to listen to the latest updates, undertake some personal self development, as well as manage some of my personal activities in the early evening. What could be better – I didn’t have to do any of this, work did not expect me to do this, it was my choice.
I have the flexibility to work anywhere (WFA). What better way is there to balance work and personal commitments? In my circumstances, this is a perfect fit.
I recognise that some people may not want to ‘bring work home’ or have to manage a blended work/life balance, and I am not saying we should compromise if we do not feel comfortable. I feel that we have the opportunity to evolve how we work, and to choose where we work that best suits us and the task in hand.
What are your views and experiences? Should we continue to largely work in offices, or should we embrace technology, and work from anywhere (WFA)?