Now, some two months later, those fortunate to be working and earning are often doing it from their home. On one hand this doesn’t make the COVID-19 situation any easier for sure however, in conversations with them, I am getting the sense that a good many are starting to realize the advantages their ‘home office’ has provided as they settle in to what may continue for a while. At the same time and while starting to enjoy the related freedoms, it is also important for all to realize that the ‘bosses’ are also finding ways to oversee the work being done … or not being done and thus doing their jobs.
It is no doubt that with each passing week we are settling into what working from home
requires … not so much of the job as that has always been an expectation. Rather, what working successfully from home means and what it takes to be successful. Here are some of the advantages that those who have established a ‘home office’ are realizing and actually enjoying:
- No commuting necessary – regardless of how much time you spentgetting to work it often entailed traffic, the related congestion and time – the related frustration that one really never gets used to
- A Customized work environment – getting to set up your ‘office’ just as you like it and being able to avoid the surrounding noises that come from other’s conversations that do nothing to help you accomplish your tasks. Finding a closed room from which you can make an important telephone call is no longer a necessity
- A relaxed dress code – although still needing to be presentable when participatingin a zoom equivalent call at least from the waist up, being able to dress more casually is often welcome. This is to say nothing about the cleaning bill savings
- Added flexibility to one’s work schedule – To those used to needing to be in the office from 9 to 6, they now often have greater flexibility. Want to begin at 7:00 so you can attend a child’s baseball game at 4:30? Sure … as long as you know you have completed the work that needed to be done that day
- Saving money – Gas prices are definitely down and it’s likely that won’t last. Buyinglunch costs add up significantly especially when done 20 days per month. Suddenly you realize that you have ‘extra’ money to spend in other areas and what could be bad about that?
- A better way of creating true work-life balance – If it’s because of having no commute time or because you can alter your work hours to allow you to participate in other things going on at home, you now have the greater likelihood of being able to do these things in a more planned manner.
Along with enjoying the advantages, what is important that we all realize is that many bosses are simply not comfortable with having their team members out of sight. This is new for them as well. The worry is that the work she or he counts on them to accomplish won’t get done as or when needed. What this has wrought is a desire and thus a need to devise methods of keeping tabs on the home-based workers for that boss is going to be judged by how well their group is doing under her/his direction.
Here are some steps that are being taken by some organizations that provide leadership with the ability to monitor home-based employees. Some have always been used even within the office however to the ones working from home and with COVID-19, it just feels different.
- Various forms of ‘spy’ software – and completely legal provided you let people know it is being used. Wanting to know how those being monitored are using their time? Here is the answer. The ability to track time use with varying frequency is readily available … and being used. The ability to determine if company confidential documents have been printed or sent to an unauthorized person is also used.
- Checking to determine if you are really paying attention – while screen sharingon the likes of a zoom call it is possible for others to determine that one is engaged or if and when one has left the meeting for any period of time.
- The ability to see messages sent to other employees – Sending a message or email to another employee is not confidential when the boss has the software that is attached to all company computers. Thus, any communication needs to be something that you are willing to have anyone else see.
- An overall desire to know that the company is getting the full value from you – this is being accomplished in other and simpler ways than overseeing software. Perhaps the boss wants a video chat with you every day to review your accomplished and intended work. Or perhaps it’s calling a video meeting with ‘the team’ to allow all to update on what they have accomplished on a given day along with their planned tasks for tomorrow. Although the frequency of such meeting is not the old norm when in the true office, it is a way to help the organization and us as individuals stay on course. Of course this is our job especially if we want to keep the one we have.
Here’s the important point. When we go into the office we expect and know that we are being observed at any given time. We know and expect that our productivity is being watched and measured. When in the office we spend our days in a business frame of mind doing what it takes to justify and earn our paycheck. In today’s environment, nothing has
changed in terms of what is expected of us in terms of what we accomplish. The only change is the location of our ‘office’ or work space. Therefore, to the extent we can and do create both the area of our home office … a place that we walk into and out of just as we are used to doing under the ‘old normal’ … and the related mindset, the greater the likelihood that we and others around us will recognize that we are ‘at work’ and all of the expectations that come with that.
I personally fully expect that when today’s crisis has passed or at least diminished because a preventative treatment has been devised for this virus, the past ways of doing our jobs will not return as they were. There will be a new normal and that will include many more people in the work force doing their jobs in a remote fashion. Thus today, we can fight
what is presently going on or we can embrace it. Just seems to me that those of us who get our arms around this are going to be ahead of the curve going forward and that can only translate into a real advantage in terms of one’s perceived, personal value. That we can demonstrate that we can be trusted to do what is expected of us for which we earn the money we need and want seems like a good goal. Has today’s reality caused new challenge and frustration? Of course it has. Our choice becomes one of fighting it or adapting. Adapting seems like the ultimate smart choice to make.