Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

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Lemur
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Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by Lemur »

For the lucky white-collar workers that have not lost there job that is.

And for a lot of these folk, there is no going back now. They love it. I've seen too many posts on Facebook, Linkedin, Reddit, general news sites like CNBC and chatter among my colleagues - about how the virus has sort of forced companies into the future a bit by fast tracking telework.

As for me...I've now worked remotely for a month straight due to the virus. I love it. I think this is going to become a "no going back for me." The trend I am projecting, when this virus crisis is over, is that a lot of salaryman are going to feel empowered to push for telework. Our project has already seen POSITIVE metric increases - more total hours worked, more tickets closed out, and our delivery deadlines have been on target.

flying_pan
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by flying_pan »

I am working from home for about 1.5 years now. I enjoy it a lot: not only I live in complete sticks where there are simply no jobs, but also I have a very flexible schedule.

However, I am not so sure about this wave. Yes, a lot of companies switched to remote work right now, but I have no idea how prepared people are. For starters, majority of people have better equipped workplace in the office: dedicated desk, maybe bigger monitor(s), relatively quiet environment. Also, conference rooms to talk to colleagues.
How many people actually do have dedicated offices? And how many people will have wrong understanding from working when their kids are around? I know it won't be a case in the future, but people evaluate how good it is _now_.

So, there is a big chance it won't be praised as much. But potential is here, I agree.

horsewoman
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by horsewoman »

Well, kids will be a lot less around when schools and daycares are reopened.

Like lemur I think that a lot of this teleworking will stick. The virus will not be conquered in a few weeks, so employers as well es employees have high motivation to build up decent home office infrastructure - which will still be there once it is safe to get together again.

A lot will depend on how long travel restrictions are in place and how strict they are. If traveling is difficult, video conferences will become more attractive. People are used to in-person meetings, but this will change pretty fast.

IlliniDave
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by IlliniDave »

I agree this will advance the trend towards more remote work, especially once companies figure out they can spend less on office space if the employees are willing to pay for it.

Myself, I don't like it much. Just too many years of segregating my brain into at-work and at-home domains. The environment is deeply woven into the respective mindsets. But for those who like it and can do it efficiently (and do it at all), there are a lot of great things about it.

George the original one
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by George the original one »

Being retired and listening to those who haven't retired, the things I notice are that corporate phone systems need a better interface for those working hotlines from home. And corporate computer systems will need better security than what they have. Another big question for the knowledge worker is whether computer hardware support will be adequate if you're used to desk-side replacements appearing within 15-30 minutes.

However, these not insurmountable problems, just things that represent change and fine-tuning.

George the original one
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by George the original one »

The REAL challenge is how to do things traditionally handled in person. Life insurance, real estate, retail clothing...

rube
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by rube »

Life insurance, retail clothing? This is already done by many online?

I don't recall the time I have ever gone somewhere for an insurance. And our mortgage, which is generally more complicated than a (life) insurance, was last year 100% arranged by phone/email/WhatsApp. I knew the advisor from before, but have not seen him once during the whole process.

Scott 2
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by Scott 2 »

I've been 80-90% remote for most of the past 10 years, but with a company that's in office more often than that. I'd forced it to nearly 100% this year, but it was definitely having negative impacts.

The switch to everyone being fully remote has been fantastic. Video conferencing adoption is almost 100% We're all on a level playing field. People are getting used to bonding in the virtual channels. I can't see how we pull people back to the old ways. Especially not as the social distancing stretches on for months.

I'd be surprised if my office re-opens before June. I bet even then it will be optional. A new normal is being created.

FrugalPatat
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by FrugalPatat »

I also work at home because of the virus. I don't mind it but there are some disadvantages:
-as mentioned by flying_pan: I don't have a dedicated desk, and at home I just work on my laptop whereas at work I have 2 monitors. Since I don't have the space for a dedicated desk I don't have a permanent spot for extra monitors, keyboards etc either. And working on a laptop at a regular table in regular chair is not good ergonomically.
-even though virtual meetings these days work nearly as well as real life meetings I'm not so sure about the idea of having literally no face-to-face interaction ... ever
-sometimes there might be distracting noise from outside or from the neighbours (on the other hand; at work there might also be a lot of distracting noise from people talking)
-when there are any sources of stress in the home situation it is hard to put them aside for work. When I am physically at work it is easier to not ruminate about these things
-productivity wise: at home I am more productive (than at work) when there is actually a lot of work; but I tend to be less productive when nothing important needs to be done; periods with lack interesting or important work bring me down more. At work it's easier to just goof around with co-workers to keep up my spirit

bostonimproper
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by bostonimproper »

I feel like I am somewhat more productive at home than at the office, but not much. The big boon for me has been getting rid of my commute. Also forcing everyone in the company to be remote has been great in that folks that HQ doesn't leave out us branch office folks so much, since there isn't that natural water cooler talk vs. out-of-sight out-of-mind dichotomy.

On the other hand, I do miss being able to have casual conversations with people in my own office. And the merging of my work and personal life in physical space is making it really hard for me not to just be thinking about work all the time. That has sucked.

So, yeah. My personal feelings on remote work: meh.

nomadscientist
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by nomadscientist »

Telecommuting shifts the nature of the relationship from exchange of time for money to exchange of value for money.

Problem: how does the employer calculate how much value it should expect?

EdithKeeler
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by EdithKeeler »

I actually kinda hate working at home. I worked at home for 4 years almost 20 years ago, and didn’t like it then, and don’t like it now.

I miss being around people and that “relief” that the occasional chat over the coffee pot brings.

I like working at home occasionally (when I have a personal reason for working from home like a repair or something), and I may start working from home a little more when this is over, but my biggest fear is that they’ll close our local brick and mortar and make us work from home full time.

zocab
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by zocab »

Not going to happen, for a number of reasons. Maybe the proportion of remote employees will go up a bit, but not significantly.
First, control: companies love control.
Second, and related to the first: security. Most companies don't have the expertise to set up safe work from home systems...
Third: most people don't want it - extroverts love offices, even introverts have trouble with the current situation.

I'm personally a fan of WFH (and I'm probably more productive), but I'm not optimistic about it sticking on a big scale. When it comes to meetings: my company already has all the best technology for remote work and international collaboration, and nevertheless we still send lots of people between offices and countries, because for most people nothing beats seeing someone in person. And for the rest of your work (beyond meetings) the above still applies. Never mind the fact that most people don't actually have good setups at home (i.e. separate office room or at least a desk).

Anyhow, not a big issue since I should be done with this working thing soon.

ertyu
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by ertyu »

As an introvert, I would like to clarify that my problem isn't working from home, it's the fact that there are other people at home while i work from home. so if these other people were elsewhere all day that would be perfect.

The part that's not as nice about working from home is that if they need to cut staff, you will be the one to go. Psychologically, people would have more trouble firing someone they see every day and with whom they've bonded. Also, bosses see the efforts-to-appear-busy of people physically in the office and don't see yours. So for people interested in playing the game, being at the office is better.

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Bankai
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by Bankai »

Yeah, that's why you build good relations with your boss and more importantly the boss of your boss (and her peers). If you can go another level up that's also good but might be too far removed from low-level decision making i.e. who to fire.

zocab
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by zocab »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 12:35 pm
As an introvert, I would like to clarify that my problem isn't working from home, it's the fact that there are other people at home while i work from home. so if these other people were elsewhere all day that would be perfect.

The part that's not as nice about working from home is that if they need to cut staff, you will be the one to go. Psychologically, people would have more trouble firing someone they see every day and with whom they've bonded. Also, bosses see the efforts-to-appear-busy of people physically in the office and don't see yours. So for people interested in playing the game, being at the office is better.
There's a bit of a spectrum of introverts. Plenty need at least some interaction during the day, so I've seen a few single introverts struggling right now (of course the new doesn't help across the spectrum). Sounds like you live with people, which changes the equation somewhat ofc.

Good relationships are important, but if it's an everyone-WFH situation then everyone's in the same boat in that regard - and results start mattering a lot more (which is good or bad depending on perspective). Being the lone WFH person on an in-office team has always been terrible - but that's not really relevant in the context of this thread?

ertyu
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by ertyu »

Well, the context is whether teleworking will lead to employee empowerment. And I guess for those who wanted to telework in the first place but couldn't, now they're more likely to be successful in getting to telework because teleworking has become more mainstream. But does this make you more empowered? Yes, in some ways -- but also no in others, because it gives you less chance of promotion (because of less chance to suck up) and a greater chance to be first out the door.

Tyler9000
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by Tyler9000 »

I think a lot of tech companies with astronomical rents (like this) may stick with telework, but I think it's way premature to assume it will catch on everywhere. I suspect there's a lot of INTJ sampling bias with the glowing reviews. :D Anyone who finds interpersonal relationships energizing is going crazy right now.

Personally, one thing I've learned through working at home the last few weeks is that I kinda hate it. All the same responsibilities but with fewer tools, friends, and compartmentalization between work and home just isn't a good tradeoff for me.

Scott 2
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Re: Virus causing massive uptick in telework and employee empowerment

Post by Scott 2 »

I think there's a skill aspect too. My first couple years of work from home looked much different than today does. I have a lifestyle in place that readily supports it, suited to my unique personal needs. I can get my workout at any time, but be seconds from available if a colleague needs something. My wife fully understands the constraints of a "flexible" schedule. She knows to ask "can I talk now?" any time I'm on the work computer. Whether I'm frantically typing, or looking off in the distance.

Being thrust into it, without the time to develop that support system, is a much different experience.

My whole team is comfortable doing their water cooler talk in a shared group chat. They naturally take a few minutes at meeting start for personal conversations, etc. Some people bring flair to their video conferences - pets, toys, pictures, etc. Managers already know how to evaluate at the level of results, rather than hours in a seat.

That all adds up to a nurturing work from home culture.

A big bolster to future work from home, beyond controlling rents, will be reactive pandemic preparedness. It's going to be a hot button issue for years to come, emphasized as large corporations audit one another for business relationships. As we're seeing, an established policy of work from home is a great response.

Part of why I think it's going to be sticky, even if people hate it today, is they are going to develop the skills and support system over the next few months.

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