Reasons why working from home should be a benefit not a policy after the crisis
Working from home should be on the table as a much more viable and tested future benefit and option – not a policy
The airwaves are awash with speculation the impact the COVID19 crisis will have on the future of work. WFH (working from home) is the new acronym on everyone’s lips. For some it is a step forward particularly for women limited by corporate cultures which adopt a presence culture mind set. Other employees want to avoid long, expensive and mind-numbing commutes. But after the dust has settled on this crisis, we have to be careful to avoid getting involved in binary choices. They are not helpful. Working from home should be on the table as a much more viable and tested future benefit and option – not an imposed policy. It should not be made compulsory like other corporate protocols forced on everyone, regardless of their skills, circumstances and personalities.
Research has said that following the lockdowns in the US, 40% of Americans would prefer to work remotely. It seems that high numbers whether business leaders, employees or contractors and freelancers are in favour of remote working while others are completely against it. While WFH is an effective way to work, it clearly isn’t for everyone. In any discussions in the coming months, remote working should still be viewed as a benefit, not a policy.
Today, In the current crisis most people who can, are working from home. It has opened up possibilities and the minds of those who opposed it, but care has to be taken not to see this as an either/or situation.
Suzanne Lucas aka @RealEvilHRLady, made clear in a recent open coaching session with 3Plus for our #SAFEDISTANCE initiative that WFM we are seeing today is not how it usually is. Kids are in school not being home schooled, partners go to work and you are not scrambling for shared space while juggling the demands of bosses who think its business as usual.
6 reasons working from home should be a benefit not a policy after the crisis
Why #WFH should be an option, not a policy. 3Plus connections shared their concerns.
1 . Not everyone thrives being on their own
Working independently with only a lap top or device to motivate you and keep you company is very different from the daily interactions of a workplace. Although this is in response to a crisis, there is still a lack of a sense of community. Corinne in Rotterdam shared “I’ve only been doing this for a week but I really miss the benefits of having my colleagues around me and the camaraderie of casual interaction. Video conferencing for me isn’t a permanent option.”
Others welcome going to work as a form of social contact or even, escape from difficult circumstances. Nicole’s marriage is in difficulty and describes being around her partner 24/7 in a failing relationship as “sheer hell.”
2. Miscommunication can escalate
Maya in Madrid mentioned that “One of the issues that we have encountered working remotely is just differences in communication style lead to misunderstanding and we are differences around cultural expectations and work ethic within the team”
Janice “If there are problems it can be much easier to get everyone together which is not always possible with everyone disperses. It’s also hard to read non- verbal communication and create situational awareness. How can you convey urgency with someone in another city especially if the tech starts dropping off? Emails and slack chats get misunderstood so all in all it’s very stressful ”
3. Some don’t have the space or accommodation to work professionally
Safi was not comfortable during video conferences with her team because she didn’t want the more well-off team members to see her house-share with several other young professionals. “I have to take calls in my bedroom and only have a rail to hang my clothes and a thrift shop night stand. In the common areas people are coming in and out. Bikes are stored in the hall.”
Managers should be sensitive and inclusive and understand that not everyone comes from the same type of background.
Zoe talked about trying to deal with #WFH with three kids trying to do school work but only two home computers . “It’s never been an issue before and I can’t let the kids use my work lap top for security reasons.”
4. Broadband facilities maybe erratic
This makes it difficult for some. Joanne said that she lived on the edge of a broadband network and especially now with the kids at home usage spiked resulting in outage. “I’ve had to stop them streaming when I’m on video conferences – but then they get bored and start fighting. Grrrr…
5. Many don’t have the skills to work collectively as a team with colleagues
For those used to working in an office space with all the support involved switching to WFH can be a challenge. As Suzanne quipped in the coaching session you are now Head of IT and Office Services. When you work from home you lose your backup support immediately and have to take care of everything yourself.
Many don’t know how to collaborate from a distance and companies don’t have training programmes or protocols set up.
6. Managers don’t know how to lead remote teams.
Most managers have limited experience of managing remote teams. They have to be trained and this means letting of traditional notions of supervision based usually on the time spent on a task and their observations of the focus of the employees, rather than the result achieved. With a completely virtual team it’s harder to hold employee accountable and leverage team dynamics and relationship to raise motivation levels.
Some companies have sophisticated tech to monitor time tracking, but even that can lead to resentment and a command and control culture of resentment. Gabrielle, who works for a well-known tech company in London told us that when her computer goes onto sleep mode she was logged as being absent with the IT department, even though she might be on a call or in the bathroom.
Some organisations use tools to maintain their teams’ productivity such as centralised document share via Google Drive and Google Docs, ColdTurkey or Freedom to filter distracting websites, and Coffitivity to provide some ambient noise which truthfully I would find really aggravating.
Remote working can yield many benefits but for everyone who loves it there are others who prefer a more traditional office environment and workplace.
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