In years past, the concept of working from home usually ended up being synonymous with “shirking from home,” translating to spending more time standing in front of the refrigerator, in bed, or watching television. Today, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, working from home has become almost the status quo, with millions of American workers fine-tuning their homes to being more adept at everything internet-capable in only a short time period.
Much of this is due to necessity, of course, which caused the shift from a 2018 level of eight percent of workers calling home their office to more than 53 percent today. This success has been made possible, at least in part, to an IT consulting company and an adaptive mindset.
What Are the Results?
When the stay-at-home orders were issued in March 2020, companies had little choice but to comply or go out of business. Interestingly, in the months that followed, many companies and employees that once objected are now considering extending the option to work from home even after the restrictions resulting from COVID-19 are lifted.
One of the benefits of this period has been evaluations of the benefits of working from home for employees and employers. This includes a serious look at the practices that have been put into effect due to the alterations of work style. These studies have shown that benefits extend beyond employee satisfaction and can lead to time and cost savings.
Time and Space Distances
One of the primary differences between what could have been called idealized situations to work under and today’s forced restrictions is working alongside children who are also forced to be at home due to school closures. The trouble with this is that many situations that a parent would find themselves in are not conducive to work conditions, such as finding oneself in a conference call when a child enters the room to clarify some problem in the bathroom or wanting to play.
Many of these problems are solved by making it clear between parents and children, and even between parents, that certain areas in the home and even times are reserved for work only. An interesting result of the studies done so far is finding that many companies are considering maintaining these situations even after the restrictions have been lifted. Regardless of what happens, there seem to be some results from these surveys, along with help from IT consulting companies that helped make them possible, that telecommuting is more effective and easier to do than ever.
Post COVID-19 Lessons
Since employees and employers have found that working from home can work, what have been the best practices implemented that allow these results to happen?
A list of those follows.
Allow a Trial Period
Working from home works for some employees in some businesses, but that doesn’t mean that it will work for everyone. Until it has been established that an employee can work from home effectively, there might be a need to establish a trial period to prove that they will stay motivated and focused and that appropriate work levels will be accomplished.
Let Employees Decide
Employers might be the best ones to decide whether they will allow working from home, but employees are the best to determine if it will be possible for them. A recent study showed that only about half volunteered when one company asked for volunteers to work from home. Further, it was found that the office formed the center of a social life for many younger workers, and they preferred it that way.
It might be true that necessity is the mother of invention, but it will be interesting to see if COVID-19 restrictions will give American workers an entirely new work view and if that paradigm will work in terms of business and work-life balance. Only time will tell.