Work From Anywhere Series | Episode 8: Work is Not a Place

Is remote work anywhere a dream? Or can it be turned into a reality? What are the barriers to doing so and the opportunities for companies that get this right?

Welcome to the remote work from anywhere series. This is a series featuring some of the leading people around the world in remote work, global mobility and work from anywhere compliance (remote work tax, employment law, etc.)

If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that work is more than what takes place in the physical four walls of an office building we used to commute to every day. Work is no longer a place.

Or at least not the place we thought it was. That place might also be that breathtakingly beautiful sunset view on a beach in Thailand. Or being back home close to your family in India, as you nurse a parent who has been sick. In a work from anywhere world, we have unleashed an infinite number of possibilities on humankind, and the consequences are mind-boggling. Like the concept of “where” we work and how this has become less important than “how” we work and “why” we work.

That was the inspiration behind this week’s episode moderated by John Lee of The Work From Anywhere Team and we were delighted to be joined by experts in this field (1:35) Nick LiVigne, Director of Incendium Consulting (The Instant Group), a corporate real estate company focused on rethinking real estate and the role it plays post pandemic, (2:30) Sandra Panara, Director, Workplace Insights & Strategy at Relogix, a workplace insights platform helping companies make informed data driven corporate real estate decisions and (3:30) Laurel Farrer, CEO and Founder of Distribute Consulting, a company helping businesses to transform and build a truly remote organization.

(5:00) How the shift caused by the pandemic has touched every area of society…from town planning and business recruitment to a potential solution to the climate crisis. (7:00) Increase in demand in secondary cities like Denver and Austin with offsetting decreases in San Fran and Chicago by ~10%. A shift in the suburban markets with massive demand changes from city centric to commuter towns further afield. (9:30) Slow return to the office…only 20-30% have already returned to the office. Changing habits of work at the office…not spending the whole day there. The type of spaces used are different. (12:45) 30 hour work weeks becoming increasingly common. Need a change in mindsight…we are all virtual workers. Not linear relationship of remote/hybrid vs office based. If you have a remote team member, you are a remote team! (17:20) The importance of the right tools to enable asynchronous work. Big barrier until that is sorted.

(18:10) While we’re no longer tethered to one specific location, the place still plays a role…to drive interactions that lead to trust & collaboration. Prior to pandemic, occupancy was already only at 60% for office spaces. People still want flexibility to have variety in where they work from. Especially after 18 months in lockdowns. (23:40) Location irrelevant organisations…focus on flexibility with productivity measured differently. (25:10) Changing mindset so that it’s not based on presence. Growing ecosystem of tools to enable asynchronous work. (29:15) Legacy thinking of certain teams ‘need’ to be in the office…now being debunked.

(31:35) The rise of the rural…fleeing urban cities. Forecast for satellite cities to overtake rural as hybrid comes to the fore. (33:30) Mega cities like New York & London still have a gravitational pull. (36:30) How can we repurpose our work places/CBD’s to meet new needs? (39:40) The marriage between Saks and WeWork. (40:30) Only 7% of companies have a concrete return to work plan/date. Uncertainty of delta variant causing a rethink. Moving from a massive remote experiment to a hybrid experiment once companies do return. Growth in flexible offices and work spaces to cater to these changing needs. (45:15) The employee wish for flexibility has not changed since before the pandemic, rather the employer acceptance of it has. Global companies need to be careful not to adopt a Western centric view when rolling out work from anywhere. Considerations for bandwidth and resource availability in other countries. (48:40) Remote work isn’t an employee benefit, it’s a humanity benefit. Don’t withdraw other benefits in exchange for WFH…otherwise expect the same attrition. Employees are demanding flexibility. (52:25) The environmental benefits of remote work…fact or fiction? (56:45) Predictions for the future of remote work and the second order impacts.

Some useful resources:

If you’re interested in becoming a guest on the webinar series, please reach out to us here.

Should you need help with any of your remote work tax or compliance risks, The Work From Anywhere Team would be delighted to help you out! Just reach out via our website.

The Work From Anywhere Team

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