Before the pandemic, many of us in a corporate setting were reporting to the office 9 to 5. We had a commute, a desk and a lunch room to share with our colleagues. Yet, these days we have found ourselves on the kitchen table or in a home office.
I’m fortunate that my lounge-room has two doors, allowing me some privacy when working. During my on-screen hours I’m often gifted by the appearance of colleague’s children, partners, pets and roommates. We don’t all have an unoccupied space.
Think back for a moment on the instances that have made your meetings tricky in the last 12 months. Little ones taking up bandwidth on Fortnite when you’re in a video conference? Deliveries that need a signature? Pets butting in for unplanned cameos?
Working from home isn’t limited to inconveniences, by transitioning to a home context many people are left more vulnerable than ever. The office provided some people a sense of safety, taking them out of challenging situations at home.
Most people will spend significant portions of their life working, for those who viewed the office as a reprieve they’re now facing much more time in discomfort or even danger. What’s more is it’s likely uncomfortable and in some cases dangerous to divulge sensitive issues to leaders. Overcoming difficulties in the remote working context should not fall solely on the individual
Remote working is a challenge and an opportunity for most people around the world. If handled poorly, one of the most valuable productivity gains of the current generation will cause burnout and long-term degradation of organizational performance. As companies, management and colleagues, we need to be approaching working from home with understanding to support people in crisis.
Remote working isn’t going anywhere. Flexibility for staff, new ways to innovate and reductions in operating expenses will reward the organizations that embrace the new normal. In the age of remote, hybrid and distributed working empathy is the most powerful economic asset at a firm’s disposal.