Working from home has many advantages. Saving money on office space plus all the bills coming with it, employees save time and money on travelling, no lunches, tea's coffees. There is no longer an issue who drunk the last bit of milk and never replaced it... But does working from home really work?
Apart from the obvious distractions - children needing you urgently just as you're working on an important report or even better, are in a middle of a zoom call. Cats running across the keyboard deleting that line you've been working so hard on. I'm not even going to start with everything else that needs doing around the house and it takes a lot of self control not to do...
Different people will have different opinions and even though remote working is here to stay for the foreseeable future but one thing is for sure. We are social creatures and we need to see other people. In person. Not through Zoom or other screen platform where eye contact is impossible unless you stare directly into the lens of your camera but even then you can't see the other persons eye. Let alone observing body language we all do instinctively.
You might not even realise but every time you meet someone you asses not only the words they are saying and how they look but their body language. It is an important aspect of the conversation. Is their body language in line with what they are saying? Are they saying how happy they are to see you and you should definitely catch up soon yet their body is turned away form you? Working from home and only interacting with people through the screen is taking away a big chunk of what we know about people and we have yet to find out how is this isolation going to affect our social interactions in the future. As a mum I know how hard it was to go back into social circles - especially those that didn't involve nappy and sleep deprivation talk and for many, hiding behind the laptop might be comforting.
My worry is that without face to face contact we will lose the ability to 'read' and judge people and therefore struggle with forming relationships in the future. And I'm not only talking about intimate relationships. The hormones play an important role there and often we can't do much about it.
You don't get to know people as well as you do when you spend some time with them. Not only few hours behind a small screen where you can't really see how they act on day to day basis. It's easy to keep pretending to be someone you're not for few hours. Not so easy when you are working together in the office for 6-8 hours. We might never go back to full time office working but it is important for the leaders and managers to encourage human contact so people who work together get to know each other. Understanding different personalities, their communication preferences is also important to encourage healthy workplace. We are social creatures and most thrive in the company of others. Those who keep breaking the current restrictions are a perfect example of that.
I also believe that more People Skills education will be needed once we get out of this pandemic. Because people have different opinions about the whole situation which can cause tension within the workplace. Simply learning to accept others and understand we are not the same can help reduce conflict which could otherwise escalate. People might feel we're in this together' but once they spend more time together the differences will be clear.
As a leader you must not only adapt to your customers needs but to your employees as well. Happy employees are more productive. Now, more than ever we need to feel understood and have our concerns heard. Brushing staff issues under the carpet will no longer work. So What are you going to do about it?