I recently noticed all the new articles and studies on the work-from-home phenomenon. I chuckled because I’ve been working from home, on and off, for the past twenty-ish years. The news cycle acts as if COVID-19 was the spark of a new era: remote worker. In reality, consultants and other traveling road warriors (such as salespeople and small business owners) have owned this corner of the workforce workplace for quite some time.
What has changed is the appetite for allowing the general population of Corporate America to permanently follow suit. Let’s face it, corporate real estate in densely populated urban areas such as metropolitan downtowns are suffering from the great migration to home offices. Sandwich shops, tailors, dry cleaners, and shoe-shiners who rely on corporate employees to drop in before, during, and after work hours are feeling the financial pinch. Of course, the commercial real estate holders also struggle with increasingly empty buildings that still require cooling, heating, and power, even with the reduced capacity inside them.
In response, corporate executives are sinking in their hooves and demanding employees return to the office or else. Hm…well, that’s one strategy. However, there is another, recently thrown into the ring: the strategy of the importance of corporate culture. Citing the loss of brand identity and culture, other executives and HR organizations are tugging on the heart strings of employees, reminding them that their job is an extension of family. Um, nope, but hold that thought and I’ll return to it.
Several competing articles argued the cost/benefit of remote workers, including the possibility of providing work-from-home options at a reduced compensation model. Surprisingly, employees are saying, “I’ll take it!” Why?
Working from home has numerous benefits, many of which go beyond that of hard cash compensation, including the recoup of time.
Time lost in commuting, time regained to walk pets before the day starts, time to drop off and pick up school-aged children, and my personal favorite, time gained that gets sucked away from productivity while in the office (think water cooler, drama queens, and those optional “volunteer” attendance events you’re encouraged (reminded) to attend. How’s that for culture suck?
Let’s get real about work-from-home: it’s here to stay. At some point, most employees will explore the opportunity of remote work for any number of reasons. Corporate executives and their commercial real estate partners need to get more creative about space design to lure the workforce back to the office. Think malls: everything you need or want in one place. Grocery stores, dry cleaners, day-care facilities, doggie play-care—you name it, we got it. Secondly, stop with the industrial assembly-line office aesthetics. No one wants to sit next to their ten closest colleagues and work like they’re on a timer on the library computer. How demoralizing can it get?
We want to work from home because frankly, it has all the benefits and comforts of, well, home. Get it now?
When executives tell employees that working from home will cost them money, promotions, opportunities, and community, remote workers are answering in kind: what I have at home is worth your weight in gold, and I’m willing to pay the price to protect my peace, my lifestyle, and my sanity. Cha-ching.
Work on Home @ Work Warriors!