illions of workers who never dreamt they would work from home were thrown into the fray as a result of lockdown orders that seemingly came out of the blue. It would be hard to list all the changes the pandemic has wrought and harder still to predict which ones will last. One of the most obvious has been the Work From Home phenomenon. The rapid nature of this vast shift has left many companies and employees scrambling with how to deal with it.
One of the interesting guessing games is what percentage of people will not want to return to your office when the eventual green light comes. Some people will simply not feel comfortable returning to the office for the rest of 2020 due to safety concerns. Others will desire to continue to WFH because its better than the old way - more solitude, comfort, and flexibility. In any event, it is clear that a paradigm shift has occurred.
For employers, there are lots of issues to grapple with - communication, culture, teamwork, productivity and so on. It’s interesting that when we were all forced to deal with those issues, we made it work for each of us and it was not nearly as difficult to do as we imagined given the advances in technology. In fact, many don’t want to live without Zoom/Teams once we get on the other side of the pandemic.
With this realization comes a big question - is the employer responsible for providing WFH tools? Consider:
- No one is expected to buy their own computer and software, but what about buying their home work chair and desk?
- Are employers responsible if a worker develops repetitive strain injury due to unideal home office circumstances (ie. The card table and dining chair)?
- Do corporate standards extend to the home for employees at businesses
who allow WFH?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it requires a bold new process for procurement, office design, and quality control. Leveraging a company’s larger buying power and industry savvy has never been more complex or important for a company in order to ensure employees are positioned for success.
For employees, many WFH concerns – FOMO, reduced collaboration, or inhibited career advancement – have already been answered. These legitimate concerns now seem antiquated based on this months-long experiment. Talented WFH employees are seeing their services in demand and managers are now seeing how productive people can be outside the office.