COVID-19 has thrown up challenges for us all, and I suspect will continue to do so for many years.
One such challenge, thrust on us over night, was the need for people to ‘work from home’.
I am going to digress quickly here and make the distinction between Working At Home and Working From Home.
Working At Home: the lady that alters our clothes works at home. I take my clothes to her house, she measures me, she tells me the price, I leave the clothes and when they are ready I go to collect them. I try them on and if OK I pay. She does not leave her home for any aspect of her work. Her clients go to her, she uses her own equipment, and her own home.An example of Working At Home
Working From Home: you are based at home but can move seamlessly between a client or employers office without any reduction in efficiency. You are equally productive, comfortable and socially engaged in either environment.A definition for Working From Home
I do this because the default description being used by many is Working At Home, which is patently incorrect.
I like to think that Working At Home is a static activity, whereas Working From Home is a dynamic activity.
It is fair to say that I have some experience of Working From Home having done so since since 1995. Over on M2 Associates we have a page detailing our set up and ways in which we can help companies and individuals looking to work from home.
Prior to 1995 my only real experience was to have the odd day ‘working at home’ due to things like Tube Strikes, excessive heatwave (yes it did happen once or twice back in the day), or being at home early having completed a meeting and it wasn’t worth driving back to the office. More often than not these were just opportunities to catch up with paperwork, not to keep on working.
A combination of a lack of technology and the novelty of such events made them far from productive.
It has certainly been a little ironic and more than a little confusing as to how this has worked out for both employers and employees. It was certainly surprising how many companies were ‘suddenly’ able to cope (and in many cases thrive) with staff working at home having previously dismissed the idea in favour of a more traditional office environment, and likewise many people seemed to embrace the opportunity, no doubt fueled by the combination of a fear of COVID-19 and the lovely weather we had during ‘Lockdown”.
Personally I have found it disappointing that all the initial talk of a New Normal, and an opportunity to make changes and do things differently was undermined (as were so many other things) by the Governments rush to get people back into the office. To their credit many have resisted although for how long is debatable given the sentiment expressed recently in the Guardian.
I suspect a lot of this is driven by the fact that neither employers or employees had a plan for Working From Home, and many a temporary or interim solution is proving to be just that …. not sustainable in the long run.
Individuals will be considering the impact on family life, the practicality of a laptop on the kitchen table, the lack of social interaction.
Companies will be considering the lack of control, productivity, what to do with the unused office space, the mental health implications on their staff.