Since people began working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, much has been written about how this is a trend here to stay -- more of us will now work from home and our companies will love it because workers will be more productive and it will save on commercial real estate costs.
I've been covering such stories for a long (long) time, since technology made it possible for someone to stay connected to the office via a phone and PC.
Here's how it unfolds:
- The company uses telecommuting or remote work as a way to attract and retain workers. It's a great perk, they say.
- Workers are thrilled. They won't spend their lives commuting and can be more productive. It's a great perk, they say.
- Bosses start to wonder about whether the remote workers are really working as hard as they would in an office. They're not sure the employee is contributing as much beyond just the standard duties every day. Where's the give and take with others that can lead to new ideas?
- Remote employees start to feel unappreciated. They feel like they're being left out of important conversations that take place spontaneously among colleagues and bosses.
- Bosses decide that it's more difficult for the remote workers to spearhead important projects. They'd rather give that job to someone who is in the office more. Makes sense, they say.
- Remote workers start to resent that no matter how hard they work, they don't seem to get the great assignments or promotions. They feel like they're not getting ahead. Is their future with this company dead?
I'm not saying this happens in all cases. I've interviewed many bosses and employees who love the remote work concept -- but they work very, very, very hard at it.
The remote workers say they have to always be ready to show their worth. They have to offer something extra when it's time to meet virtually, and must always work harder to bond with colleagues and bosses.
The bosses say that remote workers take a different kind of managing. They must find ways to communicate with them so that they stay engaged and feel connected to the rest of a team.
Working from home has been the norm for several weeks and may continue for quite some time. While the technology is there to let it happen, that doesn't mean it's the only thing necessary to ensure this is good for the employee and the company. That's going to take much more than technology -- that's going to take some very hard work.
What do you think? Is remote work for more people here to stay?