Many employees across the globe are working at home for the first time as the world takes on the Corona Virus. Will these changes force a permanent shift in conservative corporate culture?
As the new Corona virus spreads, many companies across the globe are taking extra precaution to ensure the health of their employees. Some companies have implemented a travel ban between offices, and many have initiated new work-from-home policies to minimize sickness. For most companies, telling all of your employees to suddenly work from home is often easier said than done. Technology does not always work the way it was planned, equipment may be hard to transport home, and many parents have their kids home with them. Some big companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Twitter are already operating ahead of the curve, shifting the majority of their workforce to either a reduced travel or completely remote environment. Meetings are being held exclusively online, via Google Hangouts. Managers across industries are finding that their teams performance hasn’t been affected by the new policies; which bring up the question: will the move to a virtual workplace become the new norm?
Pros and Cons of a digital environment
Over the course of the last few years, the work-from-home initiative has been widely debated. One of the hardest aspects of a typical 9-5 position is that it prevents you from being able to handle the daily curve balls that life may throw your way. Whether its attending a routine doctor’s appointment or picking up a sick kid from school, being in the office prohibits you from taking care of these problems. When you work remotely, you gain the flexibility to take care of your daily errands, but you still have to meet deadlines and be available for meetings when you say you will be. While the biggest drawing factor to the remote lifestyle is that you generally have a “wider bandwidth” to tend to your other life responsibilities, many who work from home lament that they often find themselves working around the clock. Because life’s many problems arise when you least expect, there is little to no physical separation between work and leisure time when you are a remote employee. When deadlines need to be met, and remote labor has no defined start or end time, many remote workers feel that they are literally “always at work”; making the shift to post-work relaxation mode that many office workers take for granted hard to achieve on a daily basis. For some, work becomes a constant balancing act. You have to force yourself to make enough time for your work responsibilities, while making sure you keep your personal life intact. When the computer is always on and available, setting time boundaries and sticking to them can become the hardest part of working from home.
Another positive aspect to the work from home lifestyle is that you incur no wasted expenses or time due to commuting. For some, the commute to and from work consumes multiple hours of the day. Avoiding traffic and long-distance train rides are some of the top reasons that many choose to work remotely versus coming into their respective office on a daily basis. The difference between closing your computer and seeing your family compared to traveling home for over an hour once work ends is enough for many people to skip out on traveling to the office.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding the use of a digital workplace is the fear of miscommunication. When using strictly technology to interact with team members, it can be easy to misread certain cues and completely skew the intent of a message. Without body language and facial expressions, it can be easy to misconstrue the tonality of a co-workers message. On the flip side, being able to limit unnecessary interruptions from your colleagues and boss is a big plus of working from home, and is the main contributor to improved productivity when comparing remote workers to their office-based counterparts.
Will these changes truly last?
In conclusion, a period of remote work is looking increasingly inevitable across the country. How this will affect companies long-term work from home policies is still up in the air, however due to the many positive aspects of utilizing a digital workplace, we may end up seeing permanent changes in companies everywhere.