Work from Anywhere in the World…

A friend of mine is a respected free-lance writer who gets many great writing assignments. And he often boasts of the fact that he can work anywhere in the world he wants.

On one occasion he texted me from South America and a month later he wrote to me from somewhere in France. However, I consider his version of working from anywhere unique, but this is not realistic for most, even in the current trend of working from home.

As a world traveler who loves working anywhere I can, I have discovered that there is a real difference between working anywhere versus working from home. In past columns, I have written about the current shift to having people work from home. In talking to various CEOs, CIOs and HR directors about the Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on their employees, it seems clear that working from home is here to stay.

Of course, some employees will need to be on-premise, but according to the CEOs with whom I have been speaking, most believe that as much as 50% of their workers will be given the option to work from home. For some, it might even be mandatory.

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But there is a caveat here that impacts the whole work-from-home vs. work-from-anywhere mantra I often hear these days.

I would prefer the work-from-anywhere model, which would allow me to perhaps move to Hawaii or the Bahamas and work-at-home in what to me is paradise. Over my 40-year career as a tech analyst, I have indeed worked from Hawaii dozens of times and in the Bahamas on occasion.

However, I always returned to my home base in Silicon Valley since it is here that I have the most access to the people I need to work and network with as part of my job. Also, since so many tech companies are here in Silicon Valley, I need to be near them to work on research projects on their sites from time to time.

A worker being close to their home base will still be necessary for most and is why the work-from-anywhere model might be difficult to pull off.

Some CEOs have told me in my discussions with them, that they view the office becoming more of a hub that would host in-person meetings as needed. Businesses are already seeing new office design concepts being floated that include conference rooms or meeting areas where people can sit at least six feet apart. These areas would be disinfected via blue light or other means to keep them safe from any contaminants.

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There is precedent for a hybrid model to emerge, too. I know many people who work for companies but live in other cities around the world. However, during the year, they have to fly to their companies' headquarter for meetings that need to be held in-person. In this case, their company headquarters already serve as a hub for them.

I even know some folks who live in Southern California who fly to Silicon Valley on Sunday nights and work from HQ all week and then fly home Friday night for the weekends.

We are still in the early adoption phase of this paradigm shift to work-from-home/work-from-anywhere in this pandemic age. Various models point to working-from-anywhere is not realistic for the majority of people. The more likely model that will emerge from this pandemic and forced isolation will be one where people work from home to be close to their current offices and only go to the office on an as-needed basis.

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