For many organizations, the request from employees to work from home was nearly constant. In fact, many organizations touted work from home as a benefit, a way to differentiate their workplace and attract high-performing workers.
But now that so many people have lived through the experiment of working from home, does it still have the attraction it had just 60 days ago?
I think many people who are being honest with themselves will say “no.”
Consider this: in a survey of 2,000 US office workers conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Citrix, 36% of respondents felt overwhelmed working at home and 28% felt lonely.
We are social creatures and though we complain about our commutes, who left the dirty mugs in the sink and who keeps stealing our lunches from the fridge, we want and need our workplace interactions.
Our meetings are more effective because we can watch body language more effectively to know when we are rambling on and need to shut it down or to keep going because the team is into it. Our one-on-one encounters in the office to share an idea that just popped into our head are easier and require less structured planning than to set up a Zoom meeting long after the idea showed up. Or morning huddles that were truly huddles, sharing space, ideas, coffee and life with others.
Our complaints about others now seems like something we want back because it was ours and it felt normal. The person who speaks too loud on the phone, the one with the irritating vocal pitch or laugh, or the one who makes it to their desk only a second before their start time. Yes. All of it was normal.
So, with a little information and experience under our belts, it is time to check in on how remote work is going.
As a mindfulness coach, I always guide my clients to use the What’s Working/What’s Not Working approach to review any situation. Doing this can help you better understand the full picture of what’s happening right now. This is a mindfulness practice to expand awareness that ultimately improves decision-making.
When it comes to the work-from-home experience, I recommend that those who are new to working at home try this approach to check in on how things are really going. Start by creating a summary of What’s Working when working at home. How does working at home make work, performance, engagement, productivity, social connections, creativity and home life better? List all of the ways.
Then complete the list of What’s Not Working by working at home. Review the same areas and list everything that is unproductive about working at home.
Following this approach equips you with an inventory where you can clearly see both sides together. The next step: mindfully review what worked and didn’t work about the experience. Was it all you thought it would be? Or did you notice that sometimes, things look better until you actually try them? Do you still want to work from home?
I believe this approach is something that should be explored by not only individuals for their own unique work experiences, but also by managers. Conducting this What Worked/What Didn’t Work analysis about your remote employees can not only help managers better support employees who are struggling with this new normal by getting at the aspects of remote work that work and don’t work for the employee/the employee’s situation, but it can also shed some light on which employees may actually perform best in this way.
Some questions to consider answering include: did the work get done as it needed to be? Did your service standard get delivered? Did your employees feel engaged, valued and part of the team? Did you live your cultural values as remote employees?
No one really knows what will happen in our recovery period from COVID-19. However, now armed with some information about remote work from company and employee perspectives, does remote work fit into your future approach to work?
Use information from today to wisely guide you to better decisions tomorrow.
Try using the What’s Working / What’s Not Working approach in every aspect of your life. Start with your working situation as both the employee and, if appropriate, the manager. Then try it out in other areas of your life: pets, kids, relationships, various life goals you’ve set for yourself.
Creating these lists provides you with information that equips you to make better and more intentional decisions.
By Jay Forte
Consider reading How to Manage New Remote Employees