What it really means when your company has a work-from-anywhere policy, how layoffs impact company reputation, and rising worker costs.
The limits of work from anywhere
Earlier this summer, I decided to put my laptop on a massive watermelon floatie and work. I got to cool off, get some vitamin D and get my work done all at once — but my laptop and phone got too hot for the sun so I took my work to the shade. Still, there’s no Protocol policy telling me I couldn’t have stayed out there on the watermelon floatie.
But HR experts said remote workers need to have a little common sense when they’re out of the office, too. It’s generally OK to work at the beach, in a coffee shop or in the backyard, but managers and employees should consider whether they’ll be just as productive in those spaces.
- Zoë Harte, Upwork’s chief people officer, said managers should set expectations for how employees can work and encourage communication about time zones or Wi-Fi access.
- “Is there a chance your Wi-Fi is not as reliable as it is in your home office? Or do you need to take a two-hour lunch break because surf's up? We want to encourage workers to have flexibility,” Harte told me.
Beyond questions of time zones and Wi-Fi quality, some workers might choose to work while they’re taking a bath or hanging out in their kid’s playroom. Others have run into nightmare situations where someone walks in on a Zoom call naked or had their live interview interrupted by a child.
- Yury Molodtsov, COO of MA Family, said it’s OK to hop on a Zoom call with a kid or to work from a bathtub, but employees might want to make sure their camera’s off while they’re taking a bath (even if you’re angling the computer just right!).
- Companies could also tell their employees to keep their office door locked during calls or to make sure they’re fully dressed for video meetings in case cameras need to be on.
Remote employees might be either excited or hesitant to leave their at-home office for a beach or pool.
- Ryan Rea, director of growth for Miami Tech Life and a marketing director for Chicago-based Sontiq, said he told his company before he was even hired that he wanted to work remotely. Rea prefers remote work because it allows him to take cruises once a month and work.
- But Samir Soriano, a performance marketer at Pocket Gems, keeps to his living room even though he could leave for a coffee shop or park. “I'm scared that my performance will wane if I get too casual with my work setting,” Soriano told me.
The heat would probably get the best of me if I chose to work by the pool every day. And the last time I worked outside I was on a Zoom call while a bee circled me.
Work from anywhere is all fun and games until the place gets in the way of the work. :)