Today’s office workers have been heavily decoupled from the workplace. Since the coronavirus pandemic, the remote work movement was accelerated; regulations and health concerns forced many businesses to conduct their daily operations at home if possible. The office is now on Slack, meetings are held on Zoom—you’ve heard of these analogies.
Unsurprisingly, there was an initial pushback when office workers had to adapt. There was no semblance of a structure since you’re now working in the comfort of your home. Employers were afraid of employees not being productive and struggled to relieve themselves of the presenteeism mindset. Businesses began enforcing “core hours” to dictate normal business hours.
For the many office workers frantically powering their way through the day at their desks, the “home office” is a giant oxymoron. Both mutually exclusive, it like oil on water; replicating the workplace environment at home is impossible and detrimental. Rather, it’s an opportunity to create an environment that fits our workweek.
Consider this: a company office is a distracting place. There are numerous distractions all around us while we’re working, and all that is eliminated in one fell swoop. No more colleagues rolling their office chairs over to show you that model they just found on Instagram. No more idle chat over at the pantry while munching biscuits and drinking instant cappuccino.
What are we left with? Yourself, a good mug of a beverage of your liking, and a room where the temperature is fully adjustable to your desires. No need to worry about freezing in dresses or feeling like its too warm in dress shirts.
You’re all on your own—which also means that the biggest distraction will only be yourself (unless you’ve got other people in the house, like your children, parents etc.).
A “home office” is more than just a Scandinavian-themed, minimalistic setup with dual monitors and succulents. It’s not an aesthetic. It’s an environment that you consciously shape to fit your working style. Maybe you find yourself working well with “core hours”, but your biological clock isn’t meant to be that early. You could also suggest working asynchronously, which is often the case for developers.
As the world returns to “normal” in time to come, the workplace will see permanent change. Besides flexible remote working policies, there are going to be enormous shifts to semi-distributed or fully-distributed teams. Facebook is already laying down the foundations for the tech giant to become semi-distributed. Big Tech is in no rush to return to the office.
Apart from the physical processes of working, we’re going to witness transformations in mentalities. Presenteeism can actually be wiped out for good for most companies. Employees will trust one another on getting work done and being accountable despite not seeing one another. Asynchronous working will create a brand new dimension of collaboration and teamwork.
Regardless, people will remain engaged if the work is challenging and meaningful. A beautifully decorated home office with fixed hours to report in the Slack room isn’t going to cut it: employers need to support their employees in navigating this crisis. Employees know how they work best, and the current opportunity can help employers see a new level of productivity that they probably never had before.
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