No one has a crystal ball to know what the impact of Covid will have on how we work. Short term, we all hope to have some predictable level of new normal in mid-2020. Long term, I think we have learned a number of things to begin adjusting our leadership methods and decisions.
Some questions I keep getting: Are we really in a new day of work from home (WFH)? Are companies going to change where and how people work because of the impact of Covid? Are we going back to the way of work we had in “BeforeLand” sometime in 2021?
Recently-published research from ResumeLab found that 99% of people prefer to work remotely at least some of the time. And, a Gallup poll cited that 59% of U.S. workers who have been doing their jobs from home during the coronavirus pandemic would prefer to continue to work remotely as much as possible (once public health restrictions are lifted). In contrast, 41% would prefer to return to their workplace or office to work, as they did before the crisis.
I have been asked my opinion for years about WFH and the impact on teams, work output, and the mental health of team members. Having worked from home for the majority of my career, I can honestly say I don’t think full-time WFH is for everyone.
Here are three areas impacted when team members are working remotely:
- COLLABORATION: The collaboration and comradery that happen during the “in-between times” of being together really does have an impact. Both from the standpoint of bouncing ideas around more freely, which could increase business and improve systems, and from the need for us to have connection with others.
- CONNECTION: I think of the movie Cast Away where Tom Hanks is stranded on an island and his best friend is Wilson. There is a tough scene where Tom must decide to either save himself or to let Wilson drift away. Only a cold soul could say they didn’t feel the loss of that volleyball. At some level and at some frequency, we are meant to be with people. Tom made a friend in order to have connection. Work allows us to connect, even if only at a professional level.
Connection is also the key reason I keep encouraging companies to continue with their training. Training gives people a sense of power and control in a time we are all a bit discombobulated. It pulls us together and allows us to stop the madness for a bit and work to learn about one another and learn together. So many companies have said they are waiting until people can be together again before they invest in training. This is the perfect time to do Birkman training, leadership classes, and learn about stress and the neurolinguistic strategies to keep us happy, change management, etc. (call me😜).
- CAPACITY: When our lives begin to exist in one space, it can have an impact on capacity. It is fabulous to be able to do laundry, start the crockpot, and be home to meet the repair person. The lack of commute time and ease of super casual can make a positive impact; conversely, so can the distractions of being available to everything. It is a challenge at times to have a space where you really can isolate from the family and pets. I often find myself at a coffee shop to minimize those distractions of my entire world being in one space.
What is the answer?
COMPROMISE! There is truly a middle ground in this argument. Clearly if a person is in a role that requires them to be at the facility or office every day, there is not a lot of room for compromise. Perhaps one day every 6 weeks to work from home so they can wait on a repair person or support their lives in some way. For others, I hate to think we have learned so many ways to be flexible during this time that we toss them all aside. Pull your team together and share ideas of what would support them moving forward.
It is a new day. We have the power to learn and adjust. What have you learned about yourself, your team, and your organization during this time? Now that is a great idea for a Zoom team builder!!!