I remember advertisements in the back of magazines with offers to work from home. I think this job situation was sort of the dream scenario for many people.
I just spent the last three decades NOT working from home. I like being at home and as such always requested longer shifts but fewer of them as I knew there was efficiency in longer, fewer shifts. I also would prefer fewer, but longer work days, as II knew there was a one and half hour investment of my time getting ready for work and about ½ hour returning home. The fewer times I invested my time in preparation and transportation-the more free time I had at the end of the day. Creating longer, fewer shifts was easy on a 24 hour schedule and it worked great for the employee and employer. It still wasn’t working from home but it was in that genre.
Last October I retired and began a new job where some work could be performed from home. The flexibility was a benefit to both my employer and I and it was made possible by the increased use of computer apps, certain software, high-speed internet and cloud-based servers. In four months, we would find out how important those items were when we began lifestyle created by Covid-19.
Lisa began working from home in mid-March. The first thing we did was get her a laptop and external monitor. She was apparently not the only person who would be working from home the day I picked up her hardware as there were only about five of my favorite laptops left-and no large monitors. Instead we purchased a television to use as a monitor. I was already working some at my employer and a few hours from home so Lisa and I became occasional co-workers.
It was an interesting dynamic around here this winter. Lisa worked from the computer desk and I would work in the living room. The computer desk became more like her work desk to include a little jar of candy and a nice office chair. The only addition from her regular desk was Clyde or Twitch-everything ele was pretty much the same as she could access her desktop from home.
I always want to find lessons in even the worst situation. Covid-19 has not been a positive experience for the world however I think we can take away a few things from the experience. The first is that high-speed internet infrastructure has an importance that is at least in the same ballpark as electricity, telephone service and good roads. The second is that many people can work from home.
Accountability was always management’s worry about those who work from home. Today, most who work on a computer use software that can account for their productivity. It’s also a benefit to the employer as they don’t need to build, heat and light a space for an employee. The employee works from home so they cover their own creature comforts.
I think we will see some return to work and others continue to work from home, even after Covid-19. The idea of working from home may not be as beneficial to workers as they find out that they kind of like people and maybe even enjoy the drive to and from work. It will be interesting to test that theory this winter.