As COVID-19 has made a determined effort to kill as many of us as possible, destroy our economy, and turn our lives upside down, many companies have tried to remain in business by having employees work from home. For many people, work-from-home is a dream come true, for others it’s a challenge. Sure, it eliminates the need to spend time commuting, and even combing your hair but it comes with challenges. Before we get into those challenges the first thing we want to look at is working from home from the company’s perspective.
Years ago, all the way back in 2009, IBM had a giant 40% of its 386,000 employees working remotely. Unfortunately, in 2017, when revenue started to tank, IBM made them all return to the office for those telecommuters. That’s just one example. There are many others. Working from home is nothing new. Thirty years ago, Peter Drucker said, “commuting to office work is obsolete.” Hmm, perhaps time has proved Peter Drucker obsolete. Some other large companies that tried work-from-home and found it flops included Bank of America, AT&T, and Aetna, to name just a few.
The big boss at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, dragged all of her employees back to the office in 2013 saying, “some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings.”
So now it seems, thanks to COVID-19, work-from-home is going to enjoy a renaissance. Quora is undoubtedly one company leading the work-from-home charge into the future. Its big boss, Adam D’Angelo, said, “all existing employees can immediately relocate to anywhere we can legally employ them.” One of the work-from-home advantages for companies is that the entire country, if not the world, is your recruiting territory. Of course, that is a two-sided sword. A survey sponsored by Prudential found 54% of people wanted to work remotely. But the same percent said working from home made them feel less connected to their company. That could be a retention problem, because now you’re competing for employees with companies a thousand miles away.
There are some basic pros and cons to working from home:
The freedom to work in your favorite Spiderman pajamas
You’ll become a technological communications expert
If you’re truly disciplined, you might get more work done.
You can no longer distinguish between work-life and home-life
You are disconnected from coworkers and the big picture
You might not have the required technology
Co-workers become suspicious and wonder how much you’re working
It’s hard to discuss working from home without mentioning one industry that is sure to fight against it. Think of the hundreds of millions of square feet of office space, all those buildings in Houston, Dallas, New York, Miami, Tampa, Los Angeles, Atlanta — yes, the commercial real estate industry. It represents billions and billions and billions of dollars to the economy. Those buildings are also investments that might part of your 401K.