The Miseducation of Work From Anywhere

In “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Lauryn Hill explores themes of self-discovery, authenticity, and breaking free from societal expectations.  It’s an album that left an indelible mark on millions of people.  The album title itself points to a journey of challenging traditional misconceptions.

Today we’re going to take inspiration from her approach and address the misconceptions surrounding the idyllic image of international remote work, such as the carefree freelancer on the beach. 

There is a deeper, more authentic side to work from anywhere that many miss.  

 

What Image Comes To Mind When You Think Of Work From Anywhere?

For many people, the often-quoted image of a carefree freelancer sipping cocktails by a turquoise ocean, laptop precariously balanced on a sun lounger, has become the stereotypical picture of work from anywhere. 

But the reality of temporary remote work abroad is far more nuanced. 

It goes well beyond the stereotypical sandy beaches.

For many people, and for many companies, it’s about leveraging flexibility to enrich lives, strengthen bonds, and ultimately, boost productivity.

 

Beyond the Vacation Facade: The Real Benefits of Work From Anywhere

Yes, stunning scenery can inspire creativity, but the motivations for temporary remote work often go far deeper, at least from the Compensation & Benefits leaders we often speak to. 

Consider these scenarios:

  • Family Ties: Imagine a daughter working remotely for a few weeks while caring for an ailing parent in their home country. Or a parent working remotely abroad to visit their son or daughter studying overseas. These experiences strengthen family bonds and provide invaluable support during challenging times.  
  • Global Families:  In today’s interconnected world, many families are spread across the globe.  One use case for work from anywhere policies is divorced parents living in different countries.  Offering work from anywhere as an employee benefit allows divorced parents to spend quality time with children living in different countries, fostering stronger connections despite the distance.
  • Cultural Dimensions:  For employees from collectivistic cultures, where family takes precedence, temporary remote work allows them to embrace their cultural values of being there for their families while staying productive. This family recharge can lead to a deeper connection with your company and a renewed sense of purpose, benefiting both the employee and the company.
  • The Workation Advantage:  Is your employee facing a looming deadline?  Or have they completed a particularly gruelling project over many months and are close to burnout? Sometimes a change of scenery combined with focused work can be a recipe for deep recharge.  Temporary remote work allows employees to experience a workation – a working vacation – where they can tackle demanding projects in a new environment, or recover from an intense work period, returning with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.
  • Accessibility for People with Disabilities:  When it comes to hire from anywhere, for individuals with physical limitations, a traditional office might present challenges. Working abroad could allow them to choose a location with more accessible workspaces and living arrangements, fostering greater inclusion in the workforce.

 

Building a Stronger Workforce With a Remote Work Policy

Work from anywhere, for many companies, are not “nice to have” perks.  They offer tangible benefits for businesses, such as:

  • Improved Employee Retention:  By offering flexibility and supporting personal needs, companies can attract and retain top talent in a competitive market.
  • A More Diverse Workforce:  Remote work breaks down geographical barriers, allowing companies to tap into a global talent pool.
  • Enhanced Employee Well-being:  Supporting personal connections and cultural needs can lead to happier and healthier employees, resulting in increased productivity and a stronger company culture.

 

So Why Don’t Companies Measure the ROI of Workations?

According to a Mercer survey, 93% of companies do not have any metrics to track the success of international remote working, despite 78% offering it in some form or other.

However, perhaps if senior leaders challenged their thinking about what exactly work from anywhere is, then there might be a more intentful effort to collect the data to show the ROI or otherwise of such a policy.

The ability to work from anywhere really is much more than a laptop by the beach.

It’s a reality that can enrich lives, strengthen families, and ultimately, fuel a more productive and diverse workforce as can be seen from the ROI of the work from anywhere programmes of Spotify and Airbnb

As for those who say it’s not possible due to the compliance risks, then we’d argue that with the right framework (see our Workation Policy Builder) and the right technology, then there are plenty of ways to turn work from anywhere into a powerful employee benefit that goes way beyond the sandy stereotypes we’re used to.

What is a Workation?

Definition of a Workation A workation in the context of remote work is exactly what it sounds like: a blend of work and vacation. It

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