What's New at IDMI.Net

Our Blog

Remote Work During and After COVID-19

Remote Work During and After COVID-19

One of the most palpable societal effects of the current pandemic is the massive shift to remote work. Platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom have doubled (or more) their traffic since the end of 2019, almost certainly a result of the increased percentage of the workforce doing their jobs from home. But the pandemic has only accelerated an existing trend; the percentage of permanent remote workers has been growing slowly for decades. That number will undoubtedly jump upward because of the pandemic—some people that left their offices in March and April will not return to them, at least for the foreseeable future. But how does working from home affect employees?

Many employers worry about the impact remote work has on productivity and camaraderie, sometimes justifiably so. Working from home can cause the lines between working time and downtime to blur for employees, and our homes have ample tempting (or sometimes pressing) distractions. On the other hand, some people are more comfortable and focused working from home—no hurried commutes, rushed lunches, uncomfortable office furniture, etc. The effects on teambuilding are a similarly double-edged sword. Some people find virtual meetings a suitable replacement for the in-person variety, while others are less engaged without the ability to interact with live human beings. In both cases, individual preferences and personalities will dictate whether an employee will be a more productive part of the team at home or in the office.

Of course, productivity and camaraderie aren’t the only factors to consider when evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of remote work. Employee mental health is often impacted by working from home, for better and for worse. Individuals who flourish working from home generally find the familiar surroundings and control over their environment comforting, which inherently leads to an improved state of mind. On the other hand, some people view their homes as a sanctuary from the stresses of the outside world; for them, working from home can be a serious detriment to their mental and emotional wellbeing. Here, too, the impact of remote work is almost entirely dependent on the individual in question.

Ultimately, there is no consensus on how working from home affects employees. Some have been thriving for the past two months, while others have struggled. Managers may be wise to take note of which workers fall into which category and prioritize bringing those that are struggling back into the office first. It may also be worth considering making the employees that are thriving permanently remote, at least on a part-time basis. Ultimately, the pandemic will all but certainly push the percentage of permanent remote workers higher. Savvy managers will do what they can to ensure that that sea change is mutually beneficial to employers and employees.

View All Posts