Employees at Conductor, a New York-based marketing software start-up, must be in the office three days a week. But for two months a year (four weeks in the spring and another four weeks in August), everyone works wherever they want, whether it is at the kitchen table or in Costa Rica. “If we could have a world where we could spend most of the year together and give people the chance to live a more adventurous life,” said Seth Besmertnik, managing director of Conductor. I think that is a good result.
For even more than 2 years, many knowledge workers have had the unrestricted freedom to take Zoom meetings from a lake house or file reports while driving across the country. Some companies that still have an in-office component are making time for employees to work from anywhere, such as American Express Co., which offers a 30-day trial period. Each team’s director decided last fall how often to go to the office, starting with employees being in the office three days a week. The company says it wants to ensure almost all employees have four weeks of remote work while allowing most people to easily travel to the office for meetings during the day. Apple which brought employees back to the office in April originally planned to offer two weeks of remote work each year but added two weeks to make it one month.
Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor, is a strong believer in coordinating individual work. His personnel cannot pick out which days of the week they come. Letting employees decide when they go to the office demotivates even those who want to work in the field because they lack the critical mass for collaboration. The company culture was not as strong during the pandemic as everyone was working from home, but Besmertnik says he also enjoyed his months working in Costa Rica.
Allowing employees to work from anywhere for eight weeks a year (the company calls it “YOLO months”) balances out, he says. “Companies are offering time to work from anywhere,” says Lorraine Cohen, a partner at business services firm Deloitte who recommends companies on exchange strategies. Cohen asks how to implement a program that allows employees to work from anywhere for weeks while complying with labour laws, reducing regulatory risk, adhering to immigration regulations, and not violating tax laws.
“Employee personal preferences are changing, and some are planning to take advantage of a summer to rent a home in Tuscany,” says one, said PwC, co-global head of consultancy focused on workplace implementation. Bhushan Sethi said. “This is one of the tools he has available to companies. How do you give back to people what they appreciate?” Some employees want the ability to work from anywhere for weeks or months, and companies that are hybrid and weeks away will be breaking the deal.