There was once a time when working from home (WFH) felt like something from an episode of The Jetsons. Then 2020 rolled around and a huge part of the workforce was thrust online, turning what seemed highly unrealistic into a very sudden reality. Since the beginning of lockdown, we’ve not only changed the way we collaborate with our colleagues but also how we spend our time at home. As the days have turned into months, working from home has lost its futuristic essence. We’ve moved past the novelty, and are now all too comfortable with the idea of sweatpants being work-appropriate. Some have coined this way of working “the New Normal”. Well, they’re wrong.
While remote work is surely here to stay, I argue that working from home is merely a temporary launching pad; one that will propel us to the next phase in which we’re able to work from anywhere in the world; a phase that encourages unique travel experiences while we simultaneously advance our careers remotely. Here I’ll explain why it’s important to embrace this change, how it will benefit you and how you can prepare for the transition from WFH to Work From Anywhere.
WFH Is Dead
Remote work advocates have always asserted that working from home enhances productivity. And they’re right. Sort of. Working from home allows workers to focus on tasks at hand with far fewer distractions than you’d find at the office. It also allows for higher levels of flexibility in the workday, which gives professionals the ability to sync their work schedules with their biological energy rhythms that peak and fall at different points of the day. All in all, this paints a pretty rosy picture of professional productivity, right? In the short term, sure. But workplace dynamics are far more complex than that, and we need to account for some serious long term effects.
Me, Myself and I
Despite the dramatic uptick in the number of remote workers across the globe in recent months, the concept has been around for a while — long enough for us to know that the biggest challenges remote workers face are loneliness and isolation. When we replace the office environment with our kitchen counter or couch and don’t have the right tools to engage under new conditions, human interaction often falls by the wayside. As social beings, this can have detrimental effects, leading to issues like depression or anxiety. When our mental health is compromised, our levels of productivity can follow suit. This introduces the very real and practical need for community, which can be pursued both online and in person. There has never been a more critical time than now to invest in building community bonds.
Public in Private
For decades, some profound voice has told us not to “bring our work home” with us. This advice is more about the work-related stress we find difficult to shake in our private lives, than the activity of literally working from home. That being said, the principle still applies. The current state of things has led to private and public lines being blurred. We interact with our colleagues from our living rooms. Through webcams, they see into our private spaces, and we see into theirs. The areas that we used to use for relaxing now also double as places where productivity is paramount.
We’ve merged two very separate parts of our lives, and the consequences are that we’re finding it increasingly difficult to unplug, unwind and get some good sleep. The longer we lack a separation in dedicated personal and professional spaces, the higher the toll it will take on us in the long run.
When Inspiration Runs Dry
Our professional productivity is also largely determined by how inspired we are, and how inspired we are has a lot to do with our environment and how we spend our time within that environment. For many of us, we derive inspiration from meaningful experiences and sharing them with others. These moments help us to reenergize and refocus; they set in motion a domino effect of creativity that we can feel in all spheres of our lives. Generally speaking, most offices, and even our homes, don’t make the cut when it comes to being effective sources of inspiration.
Viva La WFA
As time progresses, it’s becoming more evident that WFH is not the destination, but merely a stepping stone towards a way of working that goes way beyond the four walls of your ‘home office’. As a workforce we are currently setting up the infrastructure to be able to Work From Anywhere; a rewarding, holistic approach to remote work that will promote professional and personal growth while simultaneously giving us the opportunity to see the world. Picture yourself working from a beach-side coworking space in Thailand; a cobblestone street cafe in Italy; a kitted-out apartment overlooking Table Mountain in South Africa. And then after work, meeting up with a new friend to explore your bustling neighbourhood. This is not only possible but the next step in a series of changes that millennial workers will adapt to in the months and years to come.
The Work From Anywhere lifestyle is one that leverages the benefits of remote work, while also providing solutions to the challenges faced by those who WFH long term — when done the right way. Hacker Paradise has been in the business of facilitating Work From Anywhere experiences for remote professionals for over 6 years. As long time experts in the game, they take care of the logistics, so that remote workers can focus on their careers and exploring exotic destinations as a community. This means that remote workers are able to not only collaborate on work projects with other participants but also explore their chosen cities together and share the experience. This community component goes a long way when the isolation of WFH has taken its toll.
As part of the offering, Hacker Paradise also provides centrally-located accommodations, a dedicated co-working space and two on-trip facilitators to deal with the issues that inevitably come up when travelling and working. This kind of setup gives workers the flexibility to work where and when they want, without the hassle of planning it all. And when participants are working, you can bet your last dollar that they’re more inspired than they were when WFH or at the office. Travel does that to you. Learning about different cultures does that to you. But more than anything, a community of people brought together by a mindset that champions adventure and innovation, does that to you.
In past times, our travel lives and work lives were typically kept very separate from each other — a missed opportunity in every sense. But through new opportunities today, the symbiosis between career development and global exploration has the potential to create more balanced, enriched and meaningful lives; lives that inspire us to work with focus and flexibility, and build deeper connections with people and the planet. As we engage our innovative selves and continue to reimagine our working environment, it is crucial that we also recalibrate what’s important to us. Let’s use that same innovation to do away with redundant ideas, and redesign optimized ways of living that are holistic, fulfilled and rich.