Getting to work is so much more difficult in the winter. Leaving a warm bed to fight through another rainy morning to jostle for a seat on the train (which may or may not be on time) is not a fun idea for anyone. It’s no wonder you dream of a tropical island getaway or a change of tree into a rural idyll.
What if it wasn’t a dream? What if you could be away for a long time, while paying your bills and excelling in your career? Wouldn’t you rather work in a beachfront villa in Bali at a fraction of the cost of metropolitan living?
The unexpected benefit of the pandemic is that, for workers, this could be a reality. Enter the “digital nomad”.
Home, hybrid and office workers are embracing the concept of “radical flexibility”; the ability to choose where and when to work (as well as for how long, on what and with whom).
According to a global research company Gartner, 65% of workers are reconsidering the place that work should have in their life after the pandemic. Combined with the finding that 73% of professionals consider their workplace to be essential to job satisfaction, it is clear that we are at the start of a “work anywhere” revolution.
But are companies ready to board? Those looking for top talent will have to. The ABS reported a 47% increase in job vacancies in Australia over the past year and a 16% increase in turnover, meaning the current job market is firmly in favor of the employees.
In this environment, companies need to think seriously about how they can attract candidates, and employers who want to embrace the digital nomad trend will be ahead of the pack. In the near future, Gartner predicts that 5% of companies will adopt a borderless model, and it is within this group that you will see the best candidates.
While most companies will put working without borders in the “too difficult” basket, organizations have a lot to gain. If you want your lunch break to be less stale sushi and more sunbathing in Seminyak, here’s how to stop your boss from saying no.
Start an open dialogue
Tell your boss or HR manager exactly what you want your work arrangement to look like and why, in an honest and respectful way. True flexibility is based on the core value of trust – trust that employees are working to support the interests of the company and that employers are judging them on the value of their output.
Make sure you are well prepared as to how your proposed work arrangement will work. Agree on availability hours (keeping in mind potential time zone issues), describe your remote work office setup, and consider any tax rules that may apply.
Describe the benefits for your employer
Employers with staff spread across multiple locations benefit not only from a happier workforce, but also from a more powerful workforce. The pandemic has seen a decline in diversity of thought due to a lack of outside influences; a remote workforce offers the possibility of greater freedom not only of movement, but also of ideas.
There is also evidence that employers who embrace the future of work perform better than those with standard working conditions. Gartner data shows that workplaces with radical flexibility can unlock up to 18% better performing staff than employers who offer basic flexibility in the workplace. The ability to choose where and how you work translates to greater engagement.
During an economic downturn, companies that are unable to commit to salary increases can improve employee engagement through flexibility, allowing them to stay competitive in the employee market while ensuring to net income.
Agree to contact your employer regularly about the work arrangement, ensuring that you and your boss are prepared to review, revise, and renegotiate elements of the work arrangement.
Organizations and their employees need to be open and transparent to ensure work models meet business and stakeholder goals, while supporting employees. For radical flexibility in the workplace to work effectively, employers and staff need principles, not just policies.
Suggest a trial
Are you the first digital nomad in your workplace? Frame the new working arrangement as a pilot program for a limited period of time, with mutually agreed KPIs. This way, both parties approach the trial with an open mindset, prepared to learn what works and what doesn’t without the restrictions of a long-term agreement.
Radical flexibility has the potential to pay serious dividends for employers and employees brave enough to try.
Aaron McEwan is a behavioral scientist, coaching psychologist, and vice president of global research and consulting firm Gartner | @aaronmcewan