So, since jumping off, (see my last blog), it's fair to say that things have gone a bit mental at Moonface Marketing -- who knew! I'm still managing to keep the work life balance in check and I'm still working from anywhere.
My HQ of choice is Moonface Shedquarters, my little haven of tranquillity in my pretty back garden. This is where I am now, catching some rays, whilst I talk to you. But sometimes I need to be on the hoof and in the mix, and I need to be able to work from anywhere, at any time. I need to work when I'm away and I've got clients in different time zones. Being able to work from anywhere makes me feel free and allows me to think and be creative; it makes me work smarter and allows me to really focus and gives me invaluable breathing space that would otherwise be taken up by office politics, and colleague coffee making and other 9-5 office stuff. Which, by the way we will, in my humble opinion, look back on pretty soon as an outdated way of working.
I've been putting, 'working from anywhere' to the test recently, basing myself in some pretty off the beaten track locations. Most recently on the north east coast of Anglesey, an island off the tip of North Wales, in a little fisherman's cottage perched right on the edge of the ocean. Which hubby, Henners, Jessy the dog and I, were convinced was going to topple in to the sea at any point during our week away to the island. Top marks for an inspirational location though, my view every morning was straight out into the wild Irish Sea and across to the vast snow tipped Snowdonia mountains, and a couple of steps out through the front door took me directly onto my own deserted beach, laden with glistening sea life, golden sand and smooth flat pebbles, crying out to be skimmed into the vast blue wild ocean.
If you don't know it, Anglesey is an underrated untouched beautiful island. It's wild and parts of it still fairly undiscovered. It has its own micro climate and when the sun shines there is no better place than the miles of sandy beaches and crystal blue (freezing bloody cold) water and an abundance of rock pools and cliff top walks where you can stand, titanic style with your arms stretched out and let the wild winds blow your cobwebs away. When the sun departs it gets wild and blustery, and you have to snuggle up in your cottage or better the local pub, which is generally good for the soul.
It's more real and less pretentious that some of its neighbouring seaside locations and we love it. We've been going for years and it's our reset button, our retreat and our home from home. But a superfast broadband, internet hotspot it aint, so a good place to put my work from anywhere theory to the test.
It proved tricky, but manageable. The cottage didn't have wifi, but plenty of places nearby did. So I had to be organised and mobile. I worked on my phone from a deserted beautiful beach, I worked in Ann's Pantry a cool little café overlooking to Harbour, I worked at night in the cottage with no wifi, on writing up articles and reports and uploaded them the next day and I had a holiday, a well needed break with the famille. So, it is possible - even in Anglesey!
Before coming away, I did some research via my terribly clever, amazingly entrepreneurial friends, who do in fact work from anywhere. Between them they run some super successful businesses, hold very high powered influential jobs and are creative people who do outstanding work. They have families and social lives and are busy happy people. They're a pretty impressive bunch, who kindly took time out of their hectic lives, to give me their thoughts on the benefits and limitations of working from anywhere, what they think the future of working from anywhere is and what tech they use to make things run smoothly.
I wanted to know what they really thought were the benefits or indeed limitations of working from anywhere for themselves, their companies, their employers, their families, their kids, their spouses and their furkids. They didn't let me down and their responses were enlightening. An insight into working life now and a glimpse into the future. So here below is there no hold bars responses.
When you work from anywhere, costs are low for employers of course, they are not paying for an office, a chair a desk, electricity etc. As my lovely friend put it, 'I'm being paid for my skill, brain and network'. And of course, if you work with clients all over the world in different time zones, you can jump out of bed for your 6am phone call and stay in your pjs. Every single one of them agreed that the life benefits are massive. If you're at home you can take deliveries, stick a wash on whilst you work, make tea, keep a dentist appointment, pick the kids up on time etc. Flexibility comes up frequently, but so does job satisfaction, productivity, staff retention, increased creativity, increased ability to focus and get the job done, better response to customer needs, Independence, ownership, enjoyable meetings, being better networked, more valued and more empowered. When staff feel like this they are happy to work late to meet deadlines; to produce the goods.
It's important for most to be able to work whilst travelling, on the train, from the car, on flights or in airports. Better transport links for people to enable them to move around more freely with good wifi access and internet hotspots are a must. Will we have cars with offices in the future? My car already doubles as a wardrobe on wheels and I would love it to be more attuned to mobile working with the relevant affordable technology.
Our phones hold our whole life these days, I know mine does, It's how we speak to people of course, but also how we message, WhatsApp, email, surf the web, communicate on social media, access google drives, iClouds, Skype, check my bank account, transfer money, pay suppliers, transfer files via we transfer, or via WebEx and use iPad pro. But, for now at least we seem to still need out laptops and our tablets and our dongles and memory sticks.
As the world gets better connected, it gets easier to work from anywhere and there will be no slowing down in communication channels, just an increased ability to communicate on multiple platforms. The way we already switch between methods of communication now, compared to how we did a few years ago is mind-blowing. So is working from anywhere the future and will every city and rural area have free wifi and will the world feel completely connected in the future? I think so yes.
But a word of warning, as we have all experienced, today's technology and multiple platforms at your fingertips also has the ability to make you work too much, so maybe we need to also make the effort to be present, not distracted and have the occasional enforced tech detox.
So what is the future? Will we look back on the working office as the modern day mills and think it archaic? Will companies be more demanding for the right talent for their business irrespective of where they are located? As housing costs continue to soar, will people need to live further away from where they worked therefore making it impossible to commute? In the modern world flexibility makes for better business. Employees lives have changed with shared parenting responsibilities and better paternity rights for husbands. So does that mean that the old way of working just doesn't fit our lives anymore?
Of course there is also is the rise of hot desks and hub spots that property companies like Bruntood and Regis are investing in, and of course many networking companies and weekly SME huddles, where businesses and workers can engage as well as video conferencing, which is already part of many peoples working lives. Many employers are becoming more enlightened and letting us work hours that suit and they in return are more focussed and producing better results and many of us are working for ourselves.
A recent survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% said more than half their company's fulltime workforce would be working remotely by 2020, (that's just 4 years away). Good Wifi is of course essential and the general consensus is that the UK is behind other countries, when it comes to offering wifi access in public areas. Coupled with that is the need for better data allowances and longer battery lives for devices.
But, where there is demand there will be the supply of course and as things change more people will feel freer to work from anywhere at any time. I saw this quote the other day and it's sadly true. 'If people thought that trees provided free Wifi, they would be planting them like crazy. Shame they only provide us with Oxygen to breath.' Food for thought indeed lets plant trees, have free wifi and work from where we want when we want and have a better quality of life for us all and our loved ones. Vive la revolution!