In the past three months we’ve seen a lot of changes, a lot of work from home, a lot of phoning it in as well as people braving it and going to the office. How people now interact with each other professionally, educationally, and socially seems like something from a movie. But as things get back to normal what changes are going to stick and what habits will we revert to? Also, how are things going to look in the months and years ahead?
Since March we’ve seen hundreds of articles, hundreds of TV reports, and hundreds of blog posts about working from home. We’re probably all experts in the fine art of placing our laptops at eye level in ergonomically correct positions and sitting with the proper posture. We’re becoming experts on video conferencing zoom and Microsoft Teams and snap, we’re becoming adept at sharing our screens and sharing our ideas with people across town and across the country and many of us want to keep it this way.
I’ve been in our office building since the beginning of the pandemic as well as several others in other offices in the building. Occasionally we talk about the way our businesses are functioning and what things are looking like for the future. As the moratoriums to stay at home and stay out of the offices are starting to wind down, I’m hearing from other managers that they have employees who don’t ever want to come back to the office. There are even people who won’t budge from their home offices until there’s a vaccine. I ask, is the work getting done? Most of them reply yes, but they don’t like not seeing their employees, at least occasionally.
So, it seems that the obvious first thing that will change is that lots of people will be working from home moving forward. I don’t think we can put that genie back in the bottle anymore, and as long as the work is getting done, I don’t see any problem with it. However, what will this do to commercial real estate? If we don’t need half our staff to come in the office, do businesses need all this office space? Is anyone worried about this yet?
We all know plenty of people working from home and many actually love it. There are also those who would rather be in an office. Of the people I know in business I would put that at 60%. So how will offices work this out? Couple this with the new phobia of open office plans, where one sneeze can panic dozens of people, and you have a recipe for big change.
Along those lines, we should have more flexibility in where we do our work. For years we’ve been told that the computer an Internet age would lead to this very thing. Work from home, work from the seashore, work from a cabin in the woods. This was the dream, this was the fantasy that was sold to us all, and this is the best time to grab that bull by the horns. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t mind having the flexibility to work from wherever we want to be on any particular day. Managers know what work is expected of us daily, weekly, or monthly, so why not work from wherever it’s most comfortable and wherever we can be the most productive?
Things that should remain the same would be KPI’s, methods of measuring how employees fulfill their work for the company. Companies should continue to recognize and support employees who do good work.