Business leaders at technology companies have had a bumpy ride over the last couple of years, particularly with competition for highly skilled professionals. The coming year may present an even bumpier ride.
For some, it may be a wake-up call. A recent survey of more than 50,000 professionals by the consulting firm PwC found that those with the most specialized and coveted skills are planning to test the market.
One in five professionals reported that they were “extremely” or “very” likely to consider switching employers. And according to the report, recruiting and retaining skilled professionals is the number one risk to a company’s growth.
For those companies already facing a talent shortage, the stakes are about to get higher. And the competition involves a lot more than compensation. Tech professionals of all stripes are seeking more meaning, opportunity, mobility, and flexibility.
In our rapidly changing world, the idea of the ideal workplace continues to evolve. Professionals are re-thinking what a good position entails and their personal work-life balance goals. Businesses in turn are re-thinking and innovating the workplace and the intangibles that make a company and job attractive — that make working someplace meaningful and engaging. According to Deloitte, 92% of companies believe they need to redesign their organization to accommodate the evolving work environment.
The companies that are leading in innovation are offering permanent and flexible remote work, flexible hours, four-day workweeks, and work from anywhere programs in order to attract and retain top skilled professionals.
One of the most attractive and trending programs is work from anywhere (WFA). WFA is a flexible approach to working, where a company empowers their professionals to work from almost anywhere in the world, while remaining connected with the company culture and goals. In such a program, professionals get geographic flexibility and report better work-life balance.
Google, Twitter and HubSpot were early adopters of global work from anywhere programs — and dozens of tech companies have employed them since. WFA will surely be an option that highly skilled professionals ask about and, eventually, expect from potential employers.
Here are three lessons that we learned when implementing this program:
1. Think way outside the box
In the pre-pandemic workplace, the possibility that every role could be done virtually and remotely would never have been tested – the premise was too far of a reach beyond the norms at that time. Since, we have experienced the greatest workplace experiment of our generation, with most roles company-wide being done virtually for over 2 years. As you design your WFA program, consider starting with every department and position (or as close as possible) as remote-eligible. There likely may have to be exceptions, but with a broad guiding principle, you will create a program that is truly enterprise-wide and considered game-changing for your organization.
2. Redesign from the ground up
Global mobility programs use to be driven by expatriate assignments with very different purposes. Past assumptions should be tossed aside. Redesign your mobility program around the new driving force — the professionals themselves. Flexibility is the new key benefit employees are seeking, and a well-designed WFA program takes that to a global scale. Employee-driven mobility does not necessarily require allowances and bonuses which may have been necessary in prior business-driven programs. However, employees do desire the option to work almost anywhere across the world.
Your business can offer the flexibility and structure to provide such an option. You can secure employee excitement for the program with possible immigration and benefits support — while at the same time assuring global mobility compliance for your organization. Whereas it was initially difficult to find immigration and benefits options for employee-driven assignments, this landscape is changing, too, as countries see an opportunity to bring more workers to their locations and have responded with “digital nomad visas” that streamline the work permit process.
The majority of WFA assignments are primarily about reconnecting with family and friends in an employee’s country of origin or a meaningful period living abroad. Engage your people’s imagination and dreams for better work-life balance.
3. Rethink community
There are challenges to WFA programs, and one of the key challenges is to build culture and collaboration with a more mobile and global workforce. But already, there is no going back. As we boldly move into a future of employee-driven global mobility and virtual environments, your organization must take the time to consider how your company culture and collaboration can be maintained and grown.
It can be possible to develop an even greater sense of community in this new work-from-home and work-from-anywhere world. One core concept is to become more intentional in creating opportunities that bring employees together outside of their work teams so they can interact with colleagues either online — or in periodic onsite experiences. We utilize a quarterly meetup with a mix of work content and fun team-building activities. And we use this opportunity to consider how we can all reimagine a workplace that is more accessible, more inclusive, and more welcoming to all. In partnership with your DEI and community engagement teams, you can create these opportunities that build meaningful communities that matter to employees.
We are inevitably moving toward the greatest redesign of the workplace in the past 100 years. It will not be without its challenges — but it holds tremendous promise and opportunity.