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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
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work from home

The Future is Here: What Employees and Business Owners need to know about Working from Home

With the current COVID-19 global pandemic, we are seeing accelerated changes happening in our society and throughout the world.  People have no choice but to adapt to the restrictions on travel, socializing, and work.  Many office headquarters were closed due to the threat of this infectious disease.  COVID-19 spreads fast and quickly, and that created the fear of the social gatherings and a normal work environment.

Now, as the country and the world start to reopen, that same fear designed to make people vigilant now means employees are not sure they want to return to work.  For some, that is pure convenience.  For others, it is genuine fear of contracting this or another disease, or passing it along to someone more compromised.  Regardless of the reason, if quality workers either have to or want to work from home, many companies need to figure out how to permanently allow employees this flexibility.

Huge corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon were some of the first to jump on board with letting employees work remotely, and they are extending their work from home policies.  Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey announced in early May 2020 that Twitter employees can work from home forever if they want. The choice is theirs.

In a recent Forbes article by Jack Kelly (no relation):

Human resources professionals know that permitting people to work from home offers their employees a better quality and balance of work and life. This program inspires loyalty, appreciative workers and helps with their employee retention rate.   

In-house lawyers are acutely aware that their company is susceptible to large legal liabilities when they ask their employees to return to the office. They’ll need to adhere to stringent requirements and codes to ensure that people don’t spread the virus. If workers return to work and a person contracts the virus, the corporation and its executives may be subjected to lawsuits, as there will likely be claims made against the company for failing to provide a safe work environment.

However, with the ongoing pandemic it’s a trend that has stretched across the board. For the first time in history millions of people globally are working from home with a large chunk of the workforce being millennials. Working from home however is not without its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Working at Home

Working at home can have a lot of perks such as:

  • Flexible schedule
  • Custom Environment
  • Comfortable Attire
  • Zero Commute
  • Saving Money
  • More time with family and loved ones

You won’t need to be present from 9am to 5pm, you don’t have to dress up unless you have a video conference, and you don’t have to wake up 2 hours early to beat traffic.  Taking more cars off the road during peak traffic times not only helps the commuters who cannot work from, but it helps the environment.  It makes sense for organizations that now don’t have to find office space in overcrowded urban areas and pay high monthly rents and parking fees.  For individuals, working from home is beneficial to your well-being. You save money on transport and food expenses because you can cook meals at home and will be using your vehicle less and saving on gas money or spending less on taxis and buses. There is more time for exercise, family, and hobbies.

Disadvantages of Working from Home

There are also some cons to working from home and these are:

  • Willpower
  • Sticking to a routine
  • Boredom and Demotivation
  • Wifi Disruptions
  • Power Naps
  • Working Slowly
  • Waiting on Answers

For some, getting into the hang of working from home may be a breeze, but for others it isn’t as easy. Some employees might struggle having the willpower to do their work because at home it’s easy to be distracted by TV, video games and the freedom from being under the watch of managers and supervisors. Remote workers can then lose accountability. Sticking to a routine may also be difficult because some may oversleep or end up doing some other activity that pushes work down their list of priorities.

How can employers motivate their remote workers?

In order to keep employees working from home in check, leaders can do their part in making the work from home experience more adaptable by utilizing the following ideas:

Provide the right tech tools and resources – Video conferencing apps such as Zoom have really taken off in the midst of the pandemic and the call for social distancing. Messaging apps and work sharing platforms are also great tools to help employees to uphold communication and discuss their progress or any issues that may arise concerning the tasks at hand. It also allows for daily briefings and check ins to ensure all workers are on the same page.

Set Virtual Office Hours – This would ensure that employees maintain their work ethics and don’t fall short on duties. Working from home can have its fair share of distractions and employees may take advantage of this to pursue other interests and neglect or not perform their tasks efficiently. Allocating a fixed set of hours to dedicate to work and be available to colleagues and superiors can also help remote employees to maintain an efficient work from home schedule

Provide emotional support – The Covid 19 pandemic can affect employees in different ways, some may not adapt well to the work from home situation. Some may be used to being active and social at the office but feel lonely and demotivated at home. Maybe they live alone and don’t have relatives to interact with.  Encouraging self-care activities like exercise and constantly checking in on the well being of employees is a good way that leaders can assist. While some may be lonely, others may have a full house to deal with and may have duties at home that can encroach on their work time and create stress or frustration. Maybe the office was one place they were able to have time away from those factors. Having someone on the team like a counselor or office therapist can provide support to employees who may be feeling overwhelmed.

Some other actions that can be undertaken by employers to keep their workforce content are ensuring that their salaries are paid on time, offering online training and professional development webinars and courses, and giving recognition to remote workers who have met their targets or really put in a lot of work and effort.

With the increase of digital technology and the realization that many jobs can be done from home, members of the work force may be reluctant to go back to the ‘old way’ of life.  Happy and motivated employees mean a healthier and more productive work environment – ultimately boosting the development of the companies that employ them!


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