Work from Anywhere: Major Global Companies Are Successfully Embracing Remote Work

remote work

By Emil Bjerg, journalist and editor of The European Business Review

It’s been widely discussed in professional forums after the COVID crisis. Should companies embrace remote work, go for the in-between solution of hybrid work, or ask employees to return fully to the office? This article provides no easy answers but looks at cases of some of the work-from-anywhere (WFA) companies that have successfully embraced having a distributed workforce.

On November the 10th at 2.30 am, Elon Musk sent his first mail to Twitter employees after his acquisition of the platform. The mail informed them that they would no longer be allowed remote work: “Starting tomorrow (Thursday), everyone is required to be in the office for a minimum of 40 hours per week,” Musk wrote.

Earlier in 2022, the directors of Google called back their employees, citing a steady drop in corona cases in the Bay Area as the reason. In contrast to employees at Twitter, those at Google can still choose a model of hybrid work or file for an extension of their period of working from home. However, Google also put forward a policy stating that those working remotely in the US would have their salaries reduced. Other major companies like Microsoft and Amazon also asked their employees to return to offices in what seemed like the end of work-from-anywhere (WFA) policies being the corporate mainstream.

By the end of 2022, as most countries and companies have gone back to normal after the COVID crisis, only 16 percent of the world’s companies are 100 percent remote, according to a report from Owl Lab.

That is despite that WFA policies are one of the biggest draws for global talent. A report from Qualtrics in 2021 shows that a staggering 80 percent of all workers who are on the lookout for a new job said it was important for them that their next job would offer them the opportunity to live anywhere.

Here follows an overview of central trends within the WFA economy:

1. WFA has been massively pushed by the COVID-19 crisis

The obvious one first. Almost all companies adapted to some level of remote work as we were all forced to stay home. Whether we wanted to or not, most of us got sudden, hands-on crash courses in conference calling and collaborating online as we were trapped inside for substantial parts of 2020 and 2021. Some companies and a lot of employees got so used to this way of living and working that they didn’t want to go back to the pre-covid scheme of things.

2. WFA can give companies a competitive edge

A recent report from Dell Technologies writes: “By embracing remote work, organizations and industries that were once behind the curve are leveling the playing field and finding new opportunities to innovate and be more inclusive.”

As mentioned above, 41 percent of employees would like the freedom to do more remote work. 80 percent of employees around the world say it’s important for them that their next place allows them to be flexible in both hours and location. Flexibility is one of those company offerings that can give a massive competitive edge in attracting top-qualified talent. For companies to allow employees WFA policies as well as to be able to find the most competitive new employees, not just in a city, but in the whole world, can give companies a competitive edge.

3. Companies embracing remote work can save and reinvest money in the organisation

Ask any entrepreneur, CEO, or CFO: office space is expensive. As property prices in cities have seen dramatic rises in the last decades, hosting talented employees at expensive and attractive addresses is terribly costly. Companies with WFA policies can save enormous amounts on office space and thereby reinvest the money in innovation and development.

4. Hybrid work is a compromise between workers and their bosses

While many employees are interested in the idea of working from anywhere, many companies believe in having employees present physically. Leaders often see an innovative value in having people gathered in the same place. Pursuing a model of hybrid work, Apple´s Tim Cook said: ´´Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.´´ Hybrid work has generally become the compromise between the increasingly freedom-seeking employees and their bosses.

5. The mantra that physical proximity fosters innovation is getting old

“The age of assuming that innovation requires physical proximity is over,” a 2022 McKinsey report argues. In the report, How virtual work is accelerating innovation, the authors write that location flexibility has become “a de facto expectation” for innovation talent such as programmers.

The report also draws on previous McKinsey studies finding that diverse and inclusive teams outperform homogenous ones and concludes that WFA teams, being able to draw from a bigger, global talent pool, have much higher chances of being diverse.

As organisations become increasingly digitalised and more and more companies dive into web3, McKinsey’s statement seems on point.

6. The driver of the WFA economy? Trust.

All of the following companies that have gone through a successful transition to a WFA company mention it in one way or another – trust is what drives the transition away from office-based workplaces. Freedom under responsibility seems to be the guiding mantra as companies trade flexibility and expect to get commitment and productivity back from their employees.

That’s it for recent trends in the WFA sphere. Let’s have a look at companies successfully pursuing a distributed workforce:


“The real reason remote works is because it requires you to have the skills that make every team successful.´´ The words come from Wade Foster, co-founder of Zappier.

Zappier is the WFA company. When the three co-founders started the company as a side hustle, they were working on so different schedules that they simply had to work separately. Ultimately, their remote collaboration was so successful that millions of employees around the world today use their software to automate (remote) workflows. And naturally, Zappier’s employees can work from wherever they want.


“We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you). If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company,´´ Airbnb writes on their webpage as a primary reason why they’ve decided to let their employees work anywhere in 170 different countries.

As a special feature, Airbnb’s “live and work anywhere”-programme encourages employees to think outside the box by promoting destinations that are slightly off the well-trodden path of digital nomads through partnerships with e.g. Antigua and Barbuda.

Airbnb only started promoting WFA policies in the spring of 2022, and therefore didn’t publish results on the transition. The move should guarantee that some of their employees also become customers at the travel platform though.


“By disconnecting work from the need of being in the office, our ambition was to tap into new talent pools, retain existing talent, and ultimately become more efficient by streamlining how we work across Spotify, ” Spotify write on their webpage.

Spotify recently allowed their 6,500 employees to live and work from anywhere in the world. While critics predicted that would bring in chaos and unproductiveness, Spotify has been able to harvest some of its above-mentioned goals. In 2022 they measured a dramatic drop in attrition of 15% compared to their 2019 levels.

As a WFA company, Spotify is one of those companies taking advantage of being able to hire from a global talent pool. In fact, in 2021 the company hired half of its new employees outside their main hubs. On their website, Spotify writes: “We wouldn’t be able to continue to grow at the pace we are unless we launched WFA allowing us to hire in new markets.´´


“Be intentional from day one about making sure that people have a way to feel a sense of belonging and connection to the company and its community, regardless of where they’re working,” Github advises for the transition to a WFA workplace. GitHub uses events and communication tools to ensure they include employees working outside their offices, just like they offer various benefits to ensure people outside an office have whatever they could expect in an office. Like Spotify, Github advocates for a WFA model and shares its knowledge to help other workplaces make the same transition.

Dell Technologies

“Although businesses and organizations across the board are eagerly awaiting a return to ´normal life and work,` WFA has already changed everything,” Dell Technology writes. Already before covid, Dell decided that by 2020, they wanted to have a 50/50 between remote and presential work.

While other companies are sharing key figures and advice about WFA in blog posts, Dell published a short book on the topic. The book covers the phenomenon from a technical perspective, enlightening companies that might want to transition, on communication infrastructure, data security, and other topics all tech companies embracing remote work should educate themselves on.

Freelance platforms like Upwork and Toptal

As a freelancer you don’t work for the platform you’re finding work, but rather via it. For people interested in the WFA lifestyle, freelance platforms deserve a mention nonetheless. With freelancers collectively earning one billion USD annually via Upwork and 100 million USD through Toptal, a lot of freelancers manage to realise their dreams of working and living where they want by working with different contractors via freelance platforms. TopTal itself has also become a WFA company with the company’s COO residing in 30 countries since founding the company.

Read more about trends and platforms in the freelance economy here.


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