If you are among the untold numbers of Americans now working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you have recently embarked on a journey unlike any other. You are now having to learn new ways to do your job. The question is, how well will you learn those lessons?
Perhaps a more important question is one of what lessons will be learned by the business community in general, as a result of so many people working from home. The answer to that question is not inconsequential. Why? Because American business has been debating the merits of home-based work for more than a decade.
According to BenefitMall, companies were debating whether or not to embrace the telecommuting model long before COVID-19 was even a thing. Proponents maintain that sending employees home saves money and makes for happier workers. Those who do not like the idea of widespread home-based work insist that employees still need genuine face time.
The Productivity Question
Productivity almost always comes into play when executives discuss work-at-home policies. On one hand, it is reasonable to assume that workers face more distractions at home because the environment is more comfortable. They can be distracted by family members, neighbors, the television, the internet, and on and on.
By the same token, the modern workplace is rife with its own distractions. How many workers are interrupted throughout the day by colleagues just stopping by to say hello? How often do team meetings take longer than they have to because there has to be time for coffee and bagels?
Working at home during the coronavirus pandemic may be a lesson in productivity for all of us. We might once and for all settle the question of whether or not work location significantly impacts productivity.
More Personal Lessons
On a more personal level, individuals stand to learn quite a bit about themselves while working at home. For example, how structured are they without management looking over their shoulders? This is a big thing. It is already easy to slack off when managers do not mingle with employees on a regular basis. It becomes easier when managers and employees are working from their own homes.
At-home employees stand to learn some other lessons as well:
- The Value of Family Time – How many of us pursue the ever-elusive work-life balance? Working from home for an extended amount of time could very well lead to some of us redefining what that means. As a result, the value of family time might also change.
- The Value of Meetings – Business meetings are the bane of existence among employees who do not see them as offering any real value. Such feelings might only be exacerbated if working from home reduces the total number of meetings held without impacting productivity.
- The Value of Time Management – Working at home is likely to force most employees to be better managers of their own time. The longer working at home persists, the more poor time management becomes an issue. Workers forced to stay at home may very well learn just how good they are at time management.
There is no getting around the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing more people than ever before to work at home. This could turn out either good or bad for individuals, based on what they do with the time. Some may find that working from home was the best thing to ever happen to their careers. Others will rue the day their managers told them to stay home. In the end, it is all about the lessons learned.