At UP we've always believed that the way people work and live and manage their work life balance is ever more critical.
What we are seeing with the impact of Covid is that this is accelerating change at hyper speed. Many people and companies have now experienced the huge productivity and personal advantages of having remote workers and flexible work spaces, such as UP's global creative hubs. Many companies are starting to question having huge amounts of real estate tied up in expensive city centre locations to accommodate its workers, who can work just as well, if not better, remotely. There is growing evidence that flexible working will become a part of the new normal as the world has to adapt to a very changed economic reality.
One impact of Covid is that many countries are recognising the opportunities presented by remote workers. If you can work well from home, why not make your home in another country? Several countries such as Barbados, Bermuda and Estonia are offering temporary residents permits to remote workers hoping to boost their revenues with relocating high earning new residents who can consume local services and products.
Those who stay long enough even become tax payers. This offers huge potential to not just countries, but also to cities and regions looking to attract this new highly mobile creative class of workers. Today it's possible to be based in any location offering the right infrastructure, services and support for many many types of new worker. Consulting firm MBO Partners claims the number of independent workers in the USA alone, which includes freelancers, consultants, and temporary workers, was over 40 million in 2019. They also claim that 'Over 7 million US workers described themselves in 2019 as “digital nomads”: those who chose to embrace a location-independent lifestyle that allowed them to travel and work remotely.' A link to the MBO report is given below. (UP has looked at the whole area of digital nomads itself. Read our article 'What Benjamin Franklin would think about digital nomads' here.)
One of the big drivers of this is obviously that more and more companies around the world are becoming comfortable with their people working remotely. UP founder and CEO Julian Stubbs believes more and more companies will adopt remote working best practices as they see the economic benefits of doing so. We interviewed him about his view on what is happening and how UP fits the current trend.
Interview with Julian Stubbs
Ronja: So Julian, tell us about the vision behind UP and the whole remote working idea.
Julian: 'At UP we've been working remotely for over ten years. We run globally distributed teams, connected by the very latest cloud based software tools. It means you can have the freedom to work where you choose and not necessarily have to compromise by moving to a specific location to work.'
Stubbs sees this as a big advantage, especially when it comes to improving lifestyle.
'All of our people also have the option, if they want, of working from one of our global creative hubs' says Stubbs. 'We have opened creative hubs in places such as Stockholm, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London and New York. We've found this combination of remote working when you can, with using one of our creative hubs when you need one works really well. As a model it gives us huge productivity and cost gains'.
Ronja: What about flexible working?
Julian: 'When we created UP THERE, EVERYWHERE we knew we would be using smart cloud based tools to communicate, share, store and run projects. Hence our tagline The Global Cloud Based Agency. It's super flexible. However an equally important part of the UP model was the way we work and the way an increasing number of us wanted to work. In the old world of work you could basically choose between being an employee or independently employed - a freelancer.' Stubbs continued 'We believe there is an alternative. A third way. A space where you can combine the benefits of traditional employment with the freedoms of being an independent worker. We call it e-ployment.
As part of that idea we believe more and more people should have the freedom to earn their income from a number of sources. Take myself as an example. I earn my income from the work I do as part of UP, from my writing and from giving speeches. I like that balance and control - and I think others want the same flexibility as well. That's true work freedom.'
Ronja: What about work life balance?
Julian: 'That was a key component' continued Stubbs. 'One of the big reasons I made the switch from a high paying traditional job working for someone else was the desire to find a decent balance in my own life. So many people are seeking the same thing today. I've been lucky enough to help build a company that gives me, and a lot of other people within our organisation just that.'
If you want to read more about this approach to work and e-ployment, read an article by Lawrence Masle, Chief Operating Officer at UP, here.
Julian Stubbs was also interviewed recently as part of a BBC work-life article. Read the full article and Julian's comments here.
“I think there’s going to be a trend of people moving out of cities, actually moving to cheaper locations where they can afford a better life,” states Julian Stubbs
New York Times article here on remote working trends
MBO research report on digital nomads here
BBC work-life article here
Buy a copy of e-ployment from Amazon here