Millions of people who have never before worked from home are now doing so. What are the long-term effects of this? Will people get better at working from home?
Working from home takes three things:
- Technology basics (computer, phone, internet)
- Willingness to learn (at both the corporate and individual level)
- Self-direction, discipline
Work From Home Is Here to Stay
I hired an employee last year who has only ever been to my physical office once. A friend just took a job for a company based two states away. I received an application from someone listing Puerto Rico as her home address. Physical borders are less important than they ever have been.
Without a doubt, companies will become more open to the idea of working from home now that they have seen it can work on a large scale. Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and similar apps have brought previously expensive webinars and secure web meetings down to everyone’s laptop. We are social animals, so companies will bring employees back to corporate offices probably starting in the fall of 2021, but there’s no doubt that companies can cut real estate costs by letting more employees work from home permanently.
While the pandemic has been hard in so many ways, it’s also created a HUGE (caps totally justified here), once-in a generation shift in work capabilities. Instead of railing against the frustrations of technology, it became our lifeline in 2020. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no stuffing her back in.
Whether you’ll be working at home for a while longer, occasionally, or eventually going back to an office full-time, you can learn to work better from home.
We’ve learned that being at home doesn’t have to mean staying inside. I take breaks during the day for walks or just to sit at the patio table, and I’m not alone. I never used to see people when I walked in my suburban neighborhood, and now I see dozens of people also walking at all times of the day. Two of my clients temporarily relocated to a warmer climate during the winter, working remotely from a completely different state or country! They both went for a month and ended up staying for three months. In the before times, this would have been frowned upon in most companies, but flexibility like this might be part of the new normal.
This pandemic is making us creative!
It’s also making us more empathetic. We are seeing each other’s pets and kids. These touchpoint of humanity are front and center. With a much more blurry line between home and work, I think we’re all a little more relaxed. Professional and parent no longer seem mutually exclusive (when in reality they never were). It’s easier to see both as different sides of the same coin that we flip over several times a day.
Home Office Checklist
If you are working from home for the first time, it’s time to stop treating it as temporary. Act as if this is permanent, because it just might be. When things change again, perhaps you’ll go back to an office or get back on the road for sales calls, take that shift when it comes. In the meantime, enjoy this miracle of remote work possibilities with these tips:
- Give yourself permission to rearrange furniture. Whether you have a room or a corner, claim your office space.
- Treat your home office as a valuable room, not just a dumping ground. No clutter allowed. Taking time to sort and file is just as important as taking time to return emails.
- Get the right gear. Broken mouse? Ethernet connection. Better lighting. Whatever you need to make your office work, go ahead and invest now.
- Your stage in life definitely affects how you view your home office. Babies and toddlers at home? Teens? Young adults? Empty nest? Embrace this stage, knowing that another stage will allow you to change things up again. Don’t stay stuck in a life stage that no longer represents where you are.
- Subscribe to necessary services, unsubscribe from others. Upgrade your internet speed. Learn how to use Microsoft Teams if you already have a Microsoft365 subscription, which could replace a pricey Zoom subscription. Get some help implementing a CRM to eliminate sticky notes and missed appointments.
- Take the time to plan and improve. When you are the CEO of your home office, you are the only one who can make improvements. There’s no waiting for the corporate design team to refresh your space. It’s all on you.
- Still having trouble getting or staying focused? Get some help.
Do you have questions about working from home? Is your space or your process more of a challenge? Please leave a comment below.