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Why Work from Home Won’t Work for Most

You’ve heard the predictions. The COVID-19 shutdown will change things forever, and work-from-home will soon be the new normal. Mother Nature and the government decided we were all going to stay home for a while, and suddenly, we discovered we don’t need offices anymore.

Really? Let’s think this through.

Productivity

Even though I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, it’s a tough sell to convince me people are as nearly as productive at home as they are in the office.

The doorbell rings. The kid broke a dish. The laundry needs folding. The dog wants out (or in). Amazon dropped off a package. The governor’s COVID briefing is at 10. The Space-X launch is at 1:30. The unexpected phone call (ignored when at the office) lasts 15 minutes.

Collaboration/Communications

Many organizations feed off a sense of community and the strength of collaboration. That’s tough to get out from a Zoom call twice a week. It’s a lot different than wandering into an office or getting a question answered by a quick stop in the office two doors down.

Office Equipment, Supplies and Services

It might be a minor consideration to some, but any organization that relies on high production printers or scanners is out of luck in a work at home scenario. Again, potentially minor, but it’s mighty handy to have the organization’s folders, paper clips, binders, and copy paper in one place. And, to the extent an organization (or individuals in the office) rely on mail, an entire protocol for receiving and distributing mail has to be put in place.

Security Risks

When documents are received (electronically or in hard copy), when servers (or clouds) are accessed by home-based equipment, when employees find it more convenient to download files to their household computers, security risks increase. When official mail (or records) are delivered or retrieved from employees working remotely, security risks increase. When employees are left on their own to destroy discarded media without shred bins or support services, security risks increase.

Office Space Leases

Most organizations pay for space on a long-term lease. i-SIGMA is in the first year of a five-year lease. There are 40 other small- and medium-sized businesses in our building leasing space too. Does anyone think these businesses are going to tell workers to stay home while they continue to pay for space, especially in the face of all the challenges of a total work-from-home?

Keeping Perspective

Work from home was a trend before it was forced on us. It works in some cases, but not in most, at least not yet. As we get out from under this cloud over the coming months, there will certainly be some organizations that loosen their office work requirements, having seen success during this time. Some… but certainly not most.

And while a few more employees may work from home, ninety-nine percent will be back in their office for all the reasons they worked in offices in the first place.

By: Bob Johnson, i-SIGMA CEO