The invitation by Barbados authorities for foreign nationals to live and work there under the Welcome Seal visa program is certainly a case of a dream come true. Since last summer, more than 3,000 “diehards” have moved to the island to work for their current employer via laptop while enjoying Barbados’ broadband, waterfront, and bars.
While this is an example of the excesses of the WFH revolution, in the UK even traditional companies such as HSBC, Nationwide, and PwC have begun to support a hybrid home/workplace model. This consistent avoidance of daily commutes to the office contributes to the concept of the “workplace anywhere,” where people move effortlessly between workplaces, properties, and the occasional pub.
Work anywhere, anytime
Many consultants are weighing the benefits of a more versatile work model that combines collaboration and incentives for employees in the workplace with the convenience and productivity of WFH. As Julia Hobsbown notes in Demos’ Nowhere Workplace report, by focusing more on what makes an office healthier and more rewarding – wherever it is – we can reduce stress and increase productivity. Employers and employees benefit in many ways, including reduced costs and travel time, as well as savings on workplace rates.
Journey through the digital islands
Diversifying work can also help raise living standards in the UK and reduce geographic inequality by expanding choice in areas far from major cities. The federally supported Behavioral Insights (BIT) staff and the employment website Certainly recently analyzed some 20 million job postings and concluded that explicitly offering multifunctional jobs in job postings would increase their acceptance by 30% and create at least 174,000 multifunctional jobs per year in the UK financial system.
However, for this office transformation to happen across the country, people need to have the right digital tools and digital foundations, wherever they live and work. Ultra-fast and exceptionally reliable broadband connections are a necessity. And that’s the problem.
The workforce is ready for gigabit broadband networks
According to new estimates from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), the availability of fiber broadband across the country could put one million people back to work, primarily through WHO flexibility. That’s more than 300,000 people of working age, more than 250,000 seniors, and 400,000 fathers and mothers with dependent children. The study predicts that the successful implementation of FTTP could generate productivity gains of £59 billion in the UK by 2025.
CEBR also claims that the combined impact of WFH workers and full fiber protection could lead to half a million people moving from high-density urban areas (such as London) to other rural areas. This would take the pressure off the big cities in terms of housing and transportation, and improve financial opportunities in more remote areas.
The dream of full fiber
Upgrading the UK’s broadband network to superfast, reliable connections is essential to achieving the country’s future growth ambitions and creating a more equitable society. Fortunately, across the country, neutral broadband providers are building new fiber networks, providing more permanent access to rural areas and historic cities that have long been clogged with a digital backlog.
For businesses and employees lucky enough to be in the gigabit access zone, dropping some copper “fiber broadband” services and moving to a full fiber broadband offering doesn’t make sense because of the various benefits. Those waiting for the authorities to give the green light to build a gigabit infrastructure should look online to see which full fiber providers are moving forward in their area and show interest. The more businesses and homes interested in your space, the better your chances of getting started quickly.
By using this year to reimagine the world of work, we can embrace a more sustainable and diverse work model and ultimately have a happier, more productive workforce. With the support of the national full-fiber community, Workplace Anywhere will become a new reality for those who work in offices. Even if you don’t feel like moving to Barbados and working remotely for a year, being able to work full or part-time in your personal island retreat, in your kitchen, or at the local coffee shop, is essential.