It’s no surprise that the Coronavirus has changed the nature of work forever. But maybe, it was about time?
Many articles highlight the negative impacts of working from home from increased stress levels to exposing inequalities in the split of unpaid, domestic housework amongst couples to decreased productivity due to the lack of boundaries between home and work.
There’s an old adage that goes that too much of anything is a bad thing. In the case of working from home, I agree this applies. However, like anything in life, it really depends on how we view things and I do believe this unique situation does offer opportunity as well.
On one hand, the human connection felt from someone’s energy during an in person presentation or meeting is irreplaceable. It’s the bond that binds us as people. The majority of communication, despite the language, is nonverbal. We read off each other’s body language and the minutiae of physical reactions.
Yet on the other hand, this work from home situation is allowing us to audit our time and question the necessity of those meetings we used to have in-person. In a world converted by virtual meetings from one’s kitchen or living room now, we’re forced to stringently audit our time more. Which makes us wonder. Did we really need all those back-to-back meetings about the meeting about the meeting to begin with?
Technology has been far outpacing the evolution of our workplaces. Look at the rise of startup jobs and decline of traditional corporate ones as the idolized it thing to do after graduation. We also have more tools and resources such as virtual conferencing. Yet it took a global pandemic for larger, traditional workplaces to embrace telecommuting.
I don’t deny the economic havoc COVID-19 has caused. However, I challenge workplaces and society-at-large to use this as an opportunity for a possible paradigm shift. Again, I believe too much of anything is a bad thing. I also believe human in-person connection is extremely important, but what if our new normal, post-coronavirus, embraced more flexible work options which allowed women and men to take advantage of technology to incorporate more freedom with their time.
A healthy balance of work from home coupled with in-office interactions means less time commuting to and from the office. That time could be used to dive into a new online course or hobby which in turn could lead to even greater performance as employees. More freedom in time also forces employees to be more laser-focused during work hours. It also allows those with children to be more present with them.
It’s also an opportunity to shift the paradigm for women in the workforce. We as women whether directly or indirectly are constantly faced with the question of prioritizing family or career. Perhaps this pandemic is a perfect opportunity to shift our work paradigms to incorporate more flexible work moving forward allowing both women and men to ambitiously pursue and prioritize both family and career in their lives.