It's no shock that employees love to work remotely. Deciding when and where to work is liberating and eases work-life balance stress, after all. But it comes as more of a shock to some bosses that study after study shows remote work can actually increase productivity as team members find the right conditions for focus and creativity.
But co-located teams have plenty to recommend them too. Employees who work together can bounce ideas off each other more easily, serendipitous encounters lead to fresh thinking, bonding is easier, decisions can be made more quickly.
So which do you choose -- a remote team or the traditional setup with everyone in the same office? You don't have to pick just one, insists Mike Del Ponte, CEO of water filter company Soma. Not if you follow his example and opt for a "Work From Anywhere Week" for your team, at least.
The best of both worlds
The idea for the policy came to Del Ponte when he was visiting Japan, he told Levo League. "Given the time zone difference, I was able to wake up, spend a good 6 to 8 hours working, and then I was in Tokyo. I would walk around, go shopping, meet with friends, etc.," he explained. "Having that experience I thought, would it be possible if we did this on a regular basis, and we were able to coordinate so that we could all be very productive even though we were all in different parts of the world?"
When he got back to the office he put his insight into practice, launching Soma's "Work From Anywhere Week" policy which, just like it sounds, allows the entire team to log on from anywhere they please for one week each quarter. For the inaugural WFAW, one person went to Italy, Del Ponte headed to Australia, others just opted for a local cafe.
More productivity, more inspiration
How did this initial experiment in employee freedom work out? Productivity actually went up, Del Ponte told Fast Company.
"Even though Del Ponte gave his team members the freedom to be slightly less productive than usual in terms of hitting up their to-do lists, he was surprised to find that they actually reported increases in their productivity. They found that they could create the ideal conditions to get into 'the zone' by choosing the right location and time of day to do a project," reports writer Elizabeth Segran. "Being away from the distractions of the office--the constant meetings, the ringing phones, the necessary small talk, the foosball table--can be a big advantage as well," she adds.
Of course, implementing the new policy wasn't without a few bumps in the road. Del Ponte offers Fast Company a list of lessons learned, including canceling most meetings, coordinating time zones, and ensuring local wi-fi is up to the challenge the night before you start work, that anyone considering trying a similar experiment should check out before they follow his lead.
But the bottom line for Del Ponte was hugely positive. "Creativity and productivity thrive in uninterrupted time, and I believe both can be supercharged by inspiring environments," he concludes summing up the success of the policy.
Would your team benefit from a Work From Anywhere Week?