Rise in flexible working sees employees taking advantage of ‘work from anywhere’ policies

Holidays have traditionally been about sun, sea, and relaxation, but this summer, many Britons are adding spreadsheets to the mix. More than six million employees plan to “work from the beach” as flexible working practices become increasingly popular.

Research reveals that a third of workers are now employed by companies with “work from anywhere” policies, allowing them to log in from overseas for part of the year. Approximately half of these employees — equating to six million people — intend to use these policies to either work while on holiday or extend their time abroad by working during their trip.

However, this trend isn’t universally welcomed by those remaining in the office. One in five staff members find it irritating when colleagues join virtual meetings from scenic locations like the beach or poolside. Additionally, nearly a quarter of employees suspect that those working from anywhere do not maintain the same productivity levels as those in the UK.

Time-zone differences also present challenges, with a quarter of staff reporting that overseas colleagues sometimes miss deadlines due to their location. Flexible working practices, which expanded significantly during the pandemic, have been retained by many employers due to the tight labour market in the UK, making recruitment and retention difficult.

The research, commissioned by MoneySuperMarket, indicates that work-from-anywhere policies can enhance employee retention and productivity. Nearly a third of employees believe such policies boost their productivity.

Natasha Hatherall Shawe, who runs the marketing company TishTash with offices in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, advocates for this flexible approach. She encourages her team to work abroad for up to four weeks a year, stating, “Employees should have the freedom to work from anywhere. If you don’t trust them to be productive regardless of location, then you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. Businesses also need to adapt to evolving work habits.”

She added that younger employees, particularly from Generation Z, value the flexibility to work abroad, prioritising work-life balance and the opportunity to travel. “We’ve had team members working from Bali, Australia, the Philippines, and across the UK,” she noted.

Additional research suggests that enthusiasm for remote working peaks during the summer months. Flexa, a global directory of flexible companies, found that job searches for “work from anywhere” opportunities increased by 86% in spring compared to winter.

Despite the popularity among employees, many employers remain cautious about work-from-anywhere policies. A survey of managers last year revealed concerns about maintaining cultural connection, team camaraderie, and effective communication with remote team members.

Lisa Townsend, Chief People Officer at the MONY Group, which owns MoneySuperMarket, expressed pride in their work-from-anywhere policy. “We allow our team to work from a different location once or twice a year. This flexibility enables some to experience new cultures or visit loved ones, while others find it helps balance work and home life,” she said.

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