In 2020, Google temporarily banned meetings, with some exceptions, for a week at the end of the year. And, from time to time, some teams at Google have no-meeting weeks "to create space for Googlers to either focus on independent work, or make it easier to switch off entirely and take a vacation," according to an internal memo. 

In its 2020 move, Google unintentionally reinvented remote work, creating a new gold standard for autonomous roles. 

As some employers shift toward more widespread adoption of remote work, the new work-from-home will become a work-from-anywhere that is independent of time zones. 

For employees, this means more true geographic freedom where time zones are largely irrelevant and time is highly respected. Because the reality is that, currently, working remotely doesn't mean total autonomy as many believe. Employees working far from a company headquarters can still feel chained to a desk and need to attend meetings outside their 9-to-5 local clock time.

As someone who has been fortunate enough to have been working remotely for years, I can say that not all remote work is created equal. What I've come to find is that the degree to which I have freedom (and workplace happiness) isn't solely measured by the distance of my commute from one room to another. But how much room I have to work autonomously.  

For employers, fewer meetings can foster a happier and more productive workforce. What's more, it also frees up more of employees' time, leading to more money in the bank. 

Here are the key benefits of adopting a remote-work model that is independent of time zones: 

  • Cut costs: Hire people from anywhere, as well as reduce wasted hours in meetings. 
  • Increase productivity: Less time in meetings means more time to be productive. 
  • Retain staff: Increasing workplace satisfaction will help reduce employee turnover.

It's the type of win-win situation that any business should be striving for. Below are three simple ways to become a work-from-anywhere workplace. 

Be strategic with meetings

To limit meetings, you need to know how to determine if you need a meeting.

Consider skipping meetings when: 

  • Meetings are presentations rather than collaborations.
  • There isn't brainstorming or hands-on work to be done.
  • There isn't a pressing matter that requires an immediate resolution.

Additionally, generally avoid inviting any participants who aren't actually expected to participate or contribute (send them a recording instead). Remember, being present isn't the same as being a participant, and the right meeting size isn't necessarily what you think. 

Shift to productivity-based positions

For work-from-home to work, businesses need to trust their staff. The best way to create a system where trust is built-in is to center positions on output, so that roles are productivity-based rather than time-based.

This is a key shift that moves employees away from focusing on the time they put in and instead enables them to focus on the work they put out. To do this, give employees clear tasks, deliverables, and goals--making success easier to measure for both the employee and the employer. 

Take a creative approach to collaboration

Fewer meetings means revamping your approach to collaboration.

As roles transform into time-independent positions, you'll need to find new ways to collaborate from a distance. While these will look different from business to business, one key solution is to avoid unplanned meetings where employees are put on the spot. 

Instead, give employees a head's-up on what you're looking to get out of the meeting, so they can go into it prepared. It will also help prevent meetings from being riddled with deafening silence--a key in setting up the best team meetings

As simple as some of these steps might sound, they are often overlooked or underutilized. By taking them, you can become a better employer and have a more attractive workplace. The bottom line is that nearly any business with remote staff can employ these strategies to become a better employer--and a more profitable business. What it boils down to is arguably the most valuable thing in business: trust. 

Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated that Google had banned meetings. It had banned most meetings during the holiday week of December 28, 2020, to January 1, 2021, with exceptions.