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Is working anywhere in the world the culture we need?

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Popular Silicon Valley start-up Airbnb has redesigned its policy to allow employees to work and live anywhere in the world.

In a company-wide email sent from Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, Airbnb announced the policy in response to the “trend of newfound flexibility”.

“Two decades ago, Silicon Valley startups popularised the idea of open floor plans and on-site perks, which were soon adopted by companies all around the world. Similarly, today’s startups have embraced remote work and flexibility, and I think this will become the predominant way that we all work 10 years from now. This is where the world is going,” says Chesky.

He adds that to become a diverse company, Airbnb needs to recruit from a diverse set of communities. “The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area.”

Registered Clinical Psychologist and CEO of Umbrella, Gaynor Parkin says the new policy Airbnb has introduced is “a smart move”.

She says in a time when The Great Resignation is looming with the borders opening and employers beginning to lose their workers offshore, employees have much more power than they have had in a while.

Employers are now having to attract people to stay in their job, which has led to Airbnb’s new policy move.

Parkin says that employees are most likely to stay in an organisation if it isn’t too “rigid”.

Research shows that employees want autonomy over their work life to fit around their personal life, controlling how, when they work and what they do.

Read more: Businesses must rethink growth strategies as our relationships with work, technology and the planet change.

“What we know is that most employees want flexibility about how and when they work, they want autonomy, people want more say about how and when,” adds Parkin.

Following Covid-19, when it was difficult to plan, employees want predictability and consistency, while also having a sustained focus on their wellbeing Parkin says, adding that

when people are working remotely, they are at their most productive and focused while also feeling valued and supported.

She believes remote working policies is something New Zealand companies should begin to adopt.

Airbnb has recently announced their new policy allowing employees to work anywhere in the world.

And that is exactly what EasyCrypto is doing.

The cryptocurrency website service, EasyCrypto has been a remote workplace from the beginning.

Mindy Pilbrow who heads the HR function at EasyCrypto says that the remote workplace is “good for our people”.

“We want our people to feel supported and feel happy about their work which ultimately means we’ve got a happy workforce,” she says.

EasyCrypto’s decision to be a remote workplace was for employee’s happiness, providing flexibility, trusting people, and creating a sense of empowerment.

The organisation has several employees across the globe where the company operates, allowing them to “leverage a global talent market”.

“We are able to celebrate different cultures that make up the company.”

However there are concerns that working remotely can diminish communication and relationships with co-workers as a result of the lack of in-person engagement.

Parkin says that research showed that during the pandemic workplaces saw a drop in the quality and frequency of communication.

She emphasises that social interaction between co-workers “doesn’t affect the quality of work” but relationship building is still important and will need to be initiated by the company.

“When you are a remote business you need the structure to build that optimal workforce and facilitate functional workspaces,” says Pilbrow.

She says EasyCrypto makes an effort to create a culture and rhythm for employees to connect.

The company tries to create forums and opportunities for people to connect whether it be through virtual events like a quiz or weekly casual chats.

More and more companies are beginning to implement remote working policies.

One of the challenges is global time zones which make it difficult to connect with employees on the other side of the world, Pilbrow adds, though there are tools and structures in place to create those relationships after years working and learning from the remote setting.

Over the next few months, Airbnb will review its new policy and ask employees whether it is working or if changes need to be made.

Parkin says that working remotely is not a “one size fits all” policy and will need to be amended to fit the organisation and wellbeing of the employee.

Another thing employers will have to consider when thinking about introducing a work from anywhere policy is ‘cognitive load’.

Hybrid working can mean people are more likely to suffer from this as they constantly switch between two places within one space – office and house – making it harder for the brain to comprehend.

Global agency with TBWA/NZ FROM NOWHERE Founders Ashley Wilding and Daniel Davison say that working remotely allows people to have the freedom to find new working environments where “you can be more creative than ever”.

They say working remotely helps build a connection of talent across the globe who will be able to “bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our projects”.

“It’s a sort of cultural exchange. FROM NOWHERE gets to experience TBWA\New Zealand’s fun and energetic office culture and TBWA\New Zealand gets to tap into diverse cultures from across the globe.”

To stay productive, creative and motivated, Wilding and Davison say it is important to find the rhythm within the workplace and clients and establishing a new way of working will avoid total chaos.

“Get out of the spare room. Explore. Talk to people. Surround yourself with interesting people outside of advertising and hear their stories. Time away from your laptop is when the best ideas usually happen. “[Working from home] we all struggled to know when work starts and work ends. If you finish your work early, you shouldn’t feel guilty about closing your laptop and doing something you’d only usually get to do on weekends.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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