With Coronavirus shutting down most major cities in the world, and social distancing more and more becoming the norm. Many companies have implemented working from home policies in light of the virus. Once life returns to normal (soon, fingers crossed), would we all go back to the way things were or would work-from-home become the norm going forward?
After all, working from home allows the worker to avoid time-consuming commute to and from work, thus saving time (as many as 3-4 hours a day), which can either be used to increase work productivity, or to enjoy some work-life balance with activities such as working out, yoga, or just getting some R&R.
In 2013, then Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made the decision to cancel Yahoo’s generous Work-From-Home policy. She was initially vilified for her unpopular decision, however, some touted her decision as being ahead of the curve, as working from home proved unproductive for other organizations. However, as this CNBC article points out, what works for Silicon Valley tech companies might not work for Government organizations and vise versa. If in the long run Yahoo becomes more productive overall, Mayer may yet be proven right.
Sadly that wasn’t the case. After rising to the top role at Yahoo amidst much fanfare, her 5-year tenure was mired with slow growth and employee dissatisfaction. She was eventually ousted as Yahoo’s chief officer in 2017.
For all the talk about improved productivity, her decision ultimately proved to be the wrong one. She underestimated the significant value of allowing work from home in improving employee satisfaction and engagement.
Consider if a Work From Home Policy is Right For Your Business
Work from home doesn’t work for all organizations. It’s obvious that it’s not possible (yet) for retail stores, restaurants, and other customer facing businesses. We expect to be served by a real person, not a phone or computer.
Other positions such as telephone customer support can easily accommodate a work from home policy, with easy-to-track targets and records to maintain productivity.
And then there’s everything in between. The rule of thumb is, if the role requires very standard operating procedures and involves a lot of individual work, it can generally be done at home. If a role requires a lot of collaboration, with lots of fluid discussions and team meetings, working from home could be challenging.
Challenging, but Not Impossible
With the advance of collaborating tools such as Slack, and video conferencing software such as Zoom, working from home can be made easy for many roles that didn’t have such options before.
At the end of the day, as long as the organization is comfortable with result-driven productivity measures, and not time-driven productivity, and management is not worried about tracking where someone is at all times (impossible with work from home, short of giving everyone a GPS chip, and George Orwell would turn over in his grave if we went there), working from home will become more prevalent in the future as more and more workers demand it, and more and more companies embrace it.