[222] Hope after corona – Back to the office?

Since restrictions are easing, people are finding their way back to the office; yet the home office shouldn’t be wrapped up all together. ‘Teleworking is here to stay’, they said, the economists, the politicians, the companies. Therefore, let’s have a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of teleworking, and how it makes us more resilient for crisis.

Converting homes into offices was crucial in fighting Corona. Several months later, it became the new normal. The pace and degree of this conversion is remarkable and admirable; it has not only proven how resilient we can be, how flexible and fast we can act if we have to, but it has shown us as well a new way of working, which serves us in various ways, if we address the teething problems.

The good
The biggest advantage of working from home is the removal of commuting. In the US commuters lose over 100 hours a year in commuting solely, which is valuable time that could be spend better.

Moreover, it does not only save time, but as well energy lost in frustrations, and stress about the traffic jams, and the ticking clock. In addition to the commute, you save time preparing for going to work, arriving at work, and vice versa on the way back.

This saved time and energy can enhance employees’ personal satisfaction of the job in particular and of life in general, especially when combined with working at own pace and timing.

Traditionally, the working rhythm is stuck at a rigid 9-to-5 scheme, yet not all of us are as productive between these timings.

If I can set my day rhythm, I tend to work from 6 to 13 most productively, from 13 to 16 I take a long break, and I pick up work again from 16 to 20. I would lose my most productive hours commuting and waiting for the office to open if I cannot work from home, next I will gaze unproductively at my computer during the afternoon and lose again my most productive hours commuting back home.

Working in your most productive hours makes you more happy, more satisfied, and more fulfilled. The bonus is that you get more work done in the same amount of time, yet on a different timing.

Moreover, you can spend your breaks as you want and use it for instance for exercising, to catch up with a friend, take care of children or others, do some housekeeping, or have an appointment you normally would have to do outside of the office hours.

Working from home in an ideal situation does not only serve you personally, but as well the company since employees can be more satisfied, fulfilled, and productive. On top of that, it serves the planet by saving emissions created by road transport, which improves air quality and slows down climate change.

The bad

So yes, let’s go for teleworking! However, there are some teething problems of the new way of working we have to address to make it sustainable, enjoyable and beneficial for all of us.

Social Animals

The first disadvantage of working from home became clear in the beginning in the lockdown. People felt alone and lost. Not only because of the lack of structure, and increase of incertitude, but as well due to the lack of social contacts.

The same reason why schools opened up again fast, plays when considering to open offices again: social contact. As much as school is about learning skills and knowledge, it is as well about social interactions, about making friends, building relationships and learning to fight and to love, to work together, and explore yourself. Work is more than getting the task done, it is about interacting with colleagues, working together, and working alone, getting mentorship and guidance, learning from one another, improving your professional and personal skills. It is about being part of a tribe, reflecting and being reflected upon, loving and being loved, disliking and being disliked.

Work fulfils the social needs we have and make us fundamental human.

Therefore, if we stick with teleworking, we will have to find creative and innovative ways to deal with our social needs. We have to find ways to connect and bond, to share values and vision and work on the same purpose and mission. We have to find ways to be human besides being employee, being part of the tribe besides being an individual. After work parties, virtual meetings, some days in the office, and some days at home, virtual lunch breaks, one-on-one (digital) coaching, social media groups, and various others are ways to stay connected over distance, to feel part of the tribe, and fill our social needs, without having to work from 9 to 5 at the office.

New Mindset

This new way of working requires companies and employees to become output oriented rather than input oriented. Not the number of hours, but the work done within those hours should count. Companies should set clear deadlines and instructions about the expected result, but they should have thrust in their employees and empower, and coach and guide them to reach their goals.

The additional bonus is that if people feel empowered, responsible and accountable, they will be more motivated.

In addition, we have to bear in mind that a new mindset with regards to limits should be set as well. Since there is no indication of when the work day ends, people should be trained in setting and respecting limits, otherwise burn-outs will be more frequent and the balance life-work will be ruined completely. Companies and employees should have realistic expectations of what can, must, and will be done in a certain time frame. And there might be need for an independent ombudsperson to advocate on those limits and make sure they are fair and respected by both parties.

The Ugly

New Logistics

Besides this shift in mindset, there should be a logistic shift as well. Not every home can be turned into a home office without certain measures taken. Moreover, with this conversion we have to be equality savvy.

Leaving employees home should leave nobody behind.

First of all, you need a dedicated space physically and psychologically to perform at your best at home. This means you should have dedicated working blocks in which you can be free of mind of other distractions and worries such as children, people and pets to take care of, or material stuff. You have to find what triggers and disrupts your productivity, and act accordingly to remove stressors and add stimulators. This can be a dedicated corner or room in your house, or a different seat at the dining table. And crucially, you need reliable internet, hardware and software to perform the demanded tasks.

These elements are common sense, yet not always common.

Moreover, if companies don’t address these issues together with their employees, they risk to increase inequality and leave employees behind.

Add the fact that by removing work from the office to the home office, companies move utility costs (such as water, electricity, heating and cooling) from their building to the houses of their employees as well. This is another element that should be discussed together with employees, so nobody is left behind.

To work from home, or from the office?

In a nutshell, teleworking – as everything – has its good, bad, and ugly sides. But if we address before-mentioned factors, we can keep on using teleworking as a complimentary way of working besides working at the office.

That way, we can work from home or from the office depending on the needs of the employer, the employee, and the situation. A virus comes up, even in wintertime and the flue takes over? Work from home! Too much traffic, air pollution, road constructions, or a hazardous snow storm? Work from home! Starting up a new project, need to socialise, learning a new skill, or need mentoring? Work from the office!

Knowing there are different ways to work, makes it easier to navigate when one way is blocked, or not convenient. Therefore, teleworking should stay in some way.

 

This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read

  1. How this too shall pass
  2. how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
  3. how you can contribute to this battle, 
  4. how gratitude lights up the dark,  
  5. how united we will stand strong
  6. on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis 
  7. how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands, 
  8. how being calm can get us through the storm.
  9. about Love in Times of Corona
  10. how to discover your own talents 
  11. why we need stories to hold on to 
  12. how you can be creative and innovative.
  13. how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
  14. how to listen to the sound of silence. 
  15. How breath taking Corona really is.
  16. discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us, 
  17. about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
  18. about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
  19. about the position of nature in this entire story
  20. about nature bouncing back
  21. about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
  22. about the game to play
  23. about star gazing in dark times
  24. About looking for Meaning
  25. About how Music Connects
  26. about what Easter and Corona have in Common
  27. About the Shark and the Turtle
  28. About the Irony of Distance
  29. Why to Hold on
  30. Fake News
  31. about The Big Unknown we live at
  32. about Feeling Alive
  33. About turning obstacles into opportunities
  34. about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life 
  35. About where we should go from here?
  36. About coping with incertitude
  37. About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
  38. about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
  39. How one country could rule them all
  40. About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic 
  41. about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
  42. about when the poppy flowers
  43. about what’s in a number
  44. masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
  45. What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
  46. how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
  47. why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
  48. How Spring can happen in Autumn
  49. How to unlock the lockdown
  50. Why education matters
  51. How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
  52. The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
  53. the remarkable rewards of health
  54. The queeste for global health care 
  55. Health Heroes
  56. Pains and Gains 
  57. Solidarity 3.0
  58. Work-Life Balance
  59. Home sweet home
  60. Real Connections
  61. Leadership 3.0
  62. gratitude 3.0
  63. Respect 3.0
  64. Humanity 3.0
  65. Change Management
  66. Economic Catharsis
  67. To consume or not to consume?
  68. Travel the world, travel your heart
  69. Barrels of Life
  70. People, no Number Management

Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.

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