Working at home is going to be the way business operate now that we know how to do it and the massive benefits of doing it.
This week, we published a short news story about Jeff Clarke’s interview on CNN's story and his Blog on Dell’s site in which he talked about the benefits of having more people work at home. In that story and in other stories we’ve published, we’ve said that some side effects of the pandemic lockdown are proving to be beneficial and some companies are looking at ways to make them permanent. The most obvious of these is working at home. Working at home reduces the number of cars on the road and enables workers to take care of their home life as they work. Depending on the type of work being done, the ideas about how much time people need to be physically at a workplace are evolving.
So more people are working at home, and looking to future it’s probably going to be like that from now on—and why not?
Bosses and HR managers from the iron age who think employees are property and need to be controlled, cajoled, and curbed can’t handle the idea of them not being under the lease and lash. A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
Those Neanderthals can be heard saying, how do we know they are working? Won’t they goof off at home?
What they really are saying is, I don’t know how to manage, incentivize, measure, or reward, so I’ll use the lash, that always works. There is a natural distribution to every and all societies, groups, teams, and organizations. If someone is lazy, they will just as lazy in an office as they will be at home, and vice versa. In fact, studies have shown most people actually produce more at home than they do in an office with its distractions and seemingly endless mind-numbing meetings.
But some people, who are good workers miss being with other people, they want to go to the office, take coffee and lunch breaks with their friends and maybe go out for a drink later. We once had a woman working for us who did a great job but quit. When we tried to talk her out of it and asked why, she said I miss dressing up and socializing with my peers. That was the one thing we couldn’t give her.
At the other end are the introverts who never go to the coffee room, or out to lunch. Given the possibility of never having to come into the office for them is a dream come true and they’ll work twice as hard to keep that status.
There’s also the benefit to family. Now, when work is over, you are instantly with your family. Rather than a few hours later after an irritating and tiring commute. You can be there when your kids come home from school and say hi. Just think how nice that would be. Also, your kids can see what you do, and you can teach them stuff. What parent wouldn’t want that?
It does, however, put real challenges on a manager to mentor employees. Phone and Zoom calls can only go so far. Crying in person is so much better than on the phone.
Atta girl/boy moments are also missed—a group mass email congratulating someone for a job well done just doesn’t have the same impact as a pat on the back, a bonus check and standing next to the boss while she tells stories of your greatness and ability to recognize tall buildings.
So, it’s not for everyone, nor will it be. There are many jobs that involve directly serving people … though sadly, some of those are disappearing as stores close and restaurants fail. Some jobs require people to tend to large machines in person. Those tenders can’t work from home, but one day they might be able to when IoT is fully deployed and you can push a virtual button on a screen and a bearing assembly gets just the right amount of oil.
Nonetheless, this is the new normal, or as Jeff Clarke said, “This new normal is the normal of the future.”
Better get used to it and comfortable with it because the toothpaste ain’t going back in the tube, and a whole lot of people aren’t either.