There has been a LOT of talk about WFH, work from home, including here at Inkinen Executive Search (Office vs. Remote and the Future of Work). I don’t hear as much talk about WFX. The same technologies and business practices that make WFH possible also make WFX possible.
What is WFX? Think back to high school algebra. Do you remember having to solve for X? X is a variable, meaning it could be any number. In the case of WFX, X is a variable that could be any location.
Inkinen is based in Honolulu, Hawaii, and we have a physical office space. Since mid-March, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our entire team has been working from home. The technologies that we use are all cloud-based, so the transition, although abrupt, was relatively smooth for us. In a way, the sudden move to WFH forced us to change some antiquated processes and behaviors as well. After a brief period of about three to four weeks, we had mostly adjusted to the new normal. For anyone looking for the oft-repeated “return to normalcy,” don’t hold your breath. There is no going back – the new normal is already here.
This got me thinking about why we had to limit WFH to Work from Home. Theoretically, the technology that made WFH possible should make WFX, work from anywhere, possible as well. In the end, I decided the only way to know for sure was to test it out.
In July, our family took a four-week trip to the east coast that included stops in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. We stayed in a variety of accommodations, including short-term rentals, hotels, and friends’ homes. We lived out of our bags. I carried a laptop, a tablet as a backup, noise-canceling headphones, and a cell phone. I used wi-fi when possible, cell data when necessary. The technology all held up well, and for the most part I worked as effectively as if I were at home in Hawaii. Aside from the minor inconvenience having to move my “office” several times and take a few calls from the car in transit between cities, the biggest obstacle was the 6-hour time difference. Even with that, I was able to work a modified schedule that split the difference, roughly keeping west coast hours.
In addition to my own WFX experience, I am also seeing more stories about people who are solving for X in personal and fulfilling ways. Take my friend, Rich Matsui, as an example. Originally from Hawaii, he moved to the Bay Area to pursue a career in technology and green energy. After the pandemic hit San Francisco hard, he temporarily moved his family back to Hawaii because of Hawaii’s low infection rate at the time and to be closer to family. Initially, his plan was to spend a few weeks in Hawaii while San Francisco’s infection rate slowed. But as he started to reconnect with family and friends, and learned how effectively he can work from anywhere, “a few weeks” turned into “a few months.” Could it become permanent? Only he can tell you that. But I can tell you that he’s trying to recruit his friends to follow him to Hawaii by pointing them to resources that will lower the barrier to making the same decision.
There are many more stories of people who are solving for X and relocating themselves to places and spaces where they can live their best lives and work to their highest potential. Where do you really want to live and work? Remember algebra, but make it personal: solve for your X.