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Working from Anywhere: Myths & Realities

We’re nearly two years into the great remote work experiment, and with more and more organizations (including Tangoe!) adopting Work from Anywhere as a permanent policy, it’s more important than ever to sort fact from fiction. 

While writing our book on Work from Anywhere, our team heard some surprising misconceptions about this trend that bear greater scrutiny. Rest assured—organizations of all sizes and industries can not only thrive amid WFA, but grow their results and develop stronger, more resilient teams. 

It starts with identifying the strengths remote work provides while avoiding the misconceptions that can hamper an effective Work from Anywhere transition. These myths may be prevalent, but the realities that belie them show the promising and effective influence of creating a truly remote working experience. 

Myth: WFA and WFH Are the Same 

One word may mean the difference between “work from home” and “work from anywhere” on paper, but in reality the two are almost fundamentally different. While the same technology and principles can empower both, when it comes to thriving as an organization, the WFA approach encompasses many more modes of productivity. 

Employees working from home tend to recreate their offices as best they can, relying on fixed devices and a consistent work experience. In contrast, a Work from Anywhere employee may change their location week to week or even day to day. The responsibilities of their role may demand it, or they may just find greater satisfaction and reduced burnout by staying mobile. 

Gartner estimates that 75% of employees spend a quarter of their time away from their desks, with a further 38% spending at least half their time elsewhere. Top-quality mobile devices and rapid communications infrastructure may enable Work from Anywhere, but these same solutions are increasingly needed for the wider workforce to adapt to our new way of working. 

Myth: Remote Employees Are Less Productive 

Leaders implementing Work from Anywhere in their organizations are often hampered by fears of reduced productivity. That reticence is understandable; the shift to remote is fairly recent, and long-standing methods of assessing productivity, such as time in office or number of face-to-face conversations, simply don’t function in a digital-first world. 

However, these growing pains represent a need to implement change, rather than an issue with telework itself. Comprehensive surveys have found that workers are actually 47% more productive when working from home, with CRM activity spiking as much as 176% due to the this virtual office shift. 

The same surveys of worker productivity have found some numbers did decrease in 2020. Calendar app usage, in particular, fell 22%, signaling a reduction in the overall number of meetings. 

What could account for this trend? While Zoom Fatigue surely has an effect, the simple ability for workers to set their own schedules, work asynchronously, and leverage their optimal working hours has a massive upside. Less meetings don’t mean less work; in fact, it can actually mean extended working hours and higher job satisfaction as staff focus on their most essential responsibilities.  

Myth: Work Culture Means On-Site 

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about working from home is the effect it has on workplace culture. At first glance, there seems to be some credibility behind the claim: Without a central location to visit every day, workers lose out on the opportunity to connect. Water cooler moments and spontaneous conversations, the thinking goes, must happen in-person. 

Yet work culture isn’t spontaneous. It develops with a clear vision from leadership about the mission and values of an organization, which then works itself into the larger workforce. 

The hiring site Indeed defines work culture as: 

A collection of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that make up the regular atmosphere in a work environment… Work culture determines how well a person fits into their environment at a new job and their ability to build professional relationships with colleagues.  

While the physical infrastructure of a workplace can certainly influence culture, that impact won’t be felt the same way for each employee. Stylish design and high-end amenities may draw in some candidates, but others will be turned off by the notion of mixing work and pleasure. Other employees may prefer a stripped-down office to facilitate their productivity, which may not be the preference of their coworkers. 

With Work from Anywhere, the physical surroundings of a workplace are completely up to the individual. Culture isn’t defined by where they are—at least, not as it applies to the organization. Workers have a choice in where they work, while the company decides how to develop, evolve, and influence work culture remotely. 

Let’s be clear—this is no small task. Ongoing virtual town halls can keep staff updated and engaged with new organizational initiatives, while weekly or even daily huddles within a department help build team-based culture. Above all, keeping the impact of the work front and center ensures teams don’t lose sight of why they log in every day. As workers regularly change their physical location, work can become a central and consistent base for their best creative work and sense of purpose. 

Work from Anywhere with Tangoe 

New technologies can greatly boost an organization’s shift to Work from Anywhere. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Device as a Service (DaaS) allow teams to communicate across channels using the latest devices, all at a management expense significantly lower than ad hoc alternatives. To see how Tangoe can help facilitate your Work from Anywhere evolution, contact us today to learn more.