Have you ever dreamed of moving to a tropical or exotic location?
Some people, such as accountants, consultants, or software engineers, have been able to turn their dream into reality. (with a good internet connection)
But in 2020, a ‘work from anywhere’ job has a different meaning.
Millions of people around the world have become digital nomads or remote workers, without even trying; many others are hoping to find a job that offers them the option of never having to go into an office again.
For those brave enough to board a plane and move to a foreign country in the middle of a pandemic, there are still opportunities available. Barbados, for example, has a plan to lure WFA travelers.
When the office became the danger zone….
Once upon a time, (way back in 2019) big problems in the office might have included a back-stabbing colleague, too many meetings, or trying to avoid a chatty coworker.
Bean bag chairs, a big ‘common table’ to put a laptop on, or a pool table are not that cool anymore.
Companies, concerned about the continued health of their employees, have been forced to think about how to offer things like customer support and customer service while their staff is at home.
Don’t tie me to a desk chair at home
People looking at job postings for remote work, whether that be full time or part-time freelance, are seeking flexibility.
They want the freedom to choose where they want to work. For example, a summer cottage by the lake.
On any given day, it was common to see many people hunched over laptops at coffee shops and on patios everywhere, but that is not the case now.
Pandemic protocols mean many of the favorite haunts for those with remote jobs are closed, have limited seating, or reduced hours. This raises a whole new set of issues.
The walls are closing in!
If you watch any of the real estate shows on TV, one of the big factors for house/apartment hunters is location. They are willing to sacrifice a lot for a shorter commute, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Now those decisions are being questioned. Months working at home in a small studio apartment with your significant other, who also now has a ‘work at home job’, just isn’t feasible in the long term.
For a healthy working environment, adequate space is critical to increasing productivity. Factors such as privacy (for confidential matters like work on a registered trademark) during Zoom meetings, noise, distractions, and WiFi strength have to be taken into account.
More and more folks are also considering moving to accommodations that allow for easy access to the outdoors for fresh air and socially distanced exercise. That isn’t possible when living in a high rise in a big city, where wearing a face mask is also mandatory to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A short walk to bars and restaurants may not be a high priority now.
If you are considering packing up your life and moving to the countryside, or just a smaller, more affordable city, consider that the change in locale might also impact your bank account. Facebook, for example, has already said it won’t be paying remote workers the same as others living in expensive cities.
As businesses adjust to a workforce that isn’t stationed at their headquarters, there will likely be more WFA jobs listed, and increased competition.
No more lunches with coworkers
If you ever felt pressured to participate in office social activities, this may not be a bad thing.
But there have been many posts on social media over the past few months from people missing actual human contact. Weeks at home, isolated from much of the outside world, has really impacted mental health.
What about the impact on your career? There is evidence that work-related acquaintances or “weak tie relationships” could be beneficial on the climb up the corporate ladder. Networking online really isn’t the same.
Still, it may not be an all or nothing kind of situation. A laptop nomad might want to commute into the city for one or two days a week, while abiding by all current health recommendations and COVID-19 orders. That is something to consider during the job search.
Who would benefit from ‘anywhere jobs’?
Think parents trying to keep up their busy kids schedules. Why not get work done while sitting in the car waiting for a two-hour sports practice being over?
A trend toward WFA postings on job boards could also open new virtual doors for a person with a physical disability or someone who lives with a chronic health condition. They wouldn’t worry about getting to and from work or finding ways to cope with the challenges of office life.
A few months ago, with nowhere else to go, adults of all ages could be seen walking down the street carrying folding chairs on their backs. Why? They were meeting friends (in a socially distanced circle) at an empty local field that would normally be busy with soccer games.
Whatever the future holds, we will adapt.