Are Work From Anywhere Weeks the New Summer Friday?


Quick Hits

  • Work Shift has launched a new biweekly series called Five Minutes Within which we will interview CEOs, managers, and workers about the past, present, and future of work. In the inaugural edition, Matt Boyle talked to a hacker-turned-entrepreneur who aims to create a marketplace where companies can borrow extra office space by the minute.
  • WeWork’s problems, ranging from cash burn to high debt, have been around for a while. What’s new is that WeWork seems to be failing to shine amid the strange post-Covid circadian rhythms that should favor flexible offices, writes Bloomberg Opinion columnist Lionel Laurent.
  • You’re the CEO and your company got hacked — what now, asks Bloomberg Businessweek. Executives, security professionals, and lawyers who have worked through hacks say that while every situation is different, organizations can take measures to respond to a crisis and help mitigate the damage.
  • While artificial intelligence is seeding upheaval across the workforce, from screenwriters to financial advisors, the technology will disproportionately replace jobs typically held by women, according to human resources analytics firm Revelio Labs. 


Five Tips For Work From Anywhere Weeks

Memorial Day weekend has officially kicked off what’s set to be a record-breaking summer travel season in the US. And if you’re anything like me, daydreams of ditching the office for the beach have begun to set in.

While many companies have returned to some measure of in-person work and laid down the law on return-to-office policies (with varying degrees of success), a small group is experimenting with a compromise.

At companies like Google and Mastercard, employees are given “work from anywhere” (WFA) weeks, usually two to four per year, that allows them the freedom to travel or visit loved ones.

“Prior to the pandemic we were in an 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. butts-in-seats culture — we were in the office all the time,” said Laura Proctor, senior vice president at ad agency Doe-Anderson. But even as the Covid-19 lockdown changed everything, employees didn’t miss a beat, Proctor said. “We developed the work from anywhere program as a way to acknowledge that we know people want to explore, we know we're coming off a time in our lives where many of us miss seeing our family and our friends for months, years.”

Whether your company offers WFA weeks or it’s something you’d like to pitch to your boss, here are five practical considerations.

1. Outline your plan

Even if your company has a WFA policy, it’s important to put pen to paper to figure out exactly how it’s going to work, said Andrew Robinson, head of people at Highwire PR, a public relations firm that he says developed a WFA week policy modeled after Google’s. But it’s even more important for those who want to pitch themselves as a test case to their boss to have a bulletproof strategy.

“Be clear about what will work and what won't work, and make recommendations about what you can do for the things that won't work. If you're not able to attend a meeting, how are you going to get those notes?” Robinson said. “If you're not able to do something that requires being on-site, who can you delegate that to, and what can you take from them in return?”

If your company doesn’t have a WFA policy, Doe-Anderson’s Proctor suggests framing your request as an experiment — and selling the benefits. The Kentucky-based ad agency, for example, values the creative inspiration its staff can experience while traveling. “Is there a way that you can tie the benefit of work-from-anywhere, or the location you want to be at, directly into the business?”

2. Take time zones into account

Grappling with time zone differences is perhaps the most challenging part of working from anywhere if you’re planning to take the “anywhere” part seriously.

First, outline what the time differences are and how you’re going to contend with them, Highwire’s Robinson said. Be clear on what meetings you can attend and which you won’t be able to attend. And highlight what work you can do asynchronously — i.e., on your own time — in order to support your team.

“The time zone question is like, ‘How uncomfortable are you willing to get?’” said Hannah Jezreel, senior brand strategist at Doe-Anderson who’s taken advantage of the company’s WFA benefit to visit Medellín, Colombia, and Costa Rica. “You can work at night if you want to work at night, but do you want to be sleeping during the day?”

3. Invest in a strong work setup  

Strong, reliable wifi is a must — though it’s far from guaranteed in some parts of the world. And knowing where you will be able to work, free of distractions, is essential.

When Jezreel went to Colombia she stayed at a hostel chain known for its stellar wifi, which took a major concern off the table. When she traveled to Costa Rica, however, the part of the country she visited contends with frequent wifi outages — so it was important to have a backup plan in place. Some travelers choose to buy a SIM card or an international plan for their cell phone as a fallback.

4. Think strategically about timing

If there’s a particular time of year that will be especially busy at work, it’s best to respect that and plan around it.

Suzanne Rosnowski, founder and chief executive officer of public relations firm Relevance International, encourages her staff to take advantage of the slow summer months to travel so that they’re able to put in the time at the office during the hectic fall months. 

That said, sometimes the ebb and flow of demands at work can be unpredictable. When Jezreel went to Costa Rica she’d been hoping for a slower couple of weeks, but it turned into the opposite. “You just kind of have to roll with it. That's part of it: If you booked something out in advance and work is busy, work is busy,” she said. “You have to problem-solve at the moment because not everything's going to be perfect when you don't have your consistent setup.”

5. Overcommunicate 

Once your plan is approved, overcommunicate, Robinson said. No one has the bandwidth to continually remind themselves of what time zone each of their colleagues is in. 

“Remind people in status updates, and on your Teams or Slack profile. Continuously remind people as you're sending notes and emails,” he said. “Other people are in their day-to-day, so just remind yourself that some folks might not remember.” 

Survey Says...

Would you quit your job if your employer started requiring more time in the office? Did the recent layoffs make you come to the office more often? Do you stay for after-work drinks more than before the pandemic? Share your thoughts on work from home and RTO in our latest MLIV Pulse survey.

Buzzword Bingo

"Domestic Offshoring"
How remote work has spurred a new segmentation of the US workforce by allowing people, and even entire industries, to move to different areas of the country?


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