It truly is an unprecedented time – never before have so many companies been forced to drastically change their operations in the span of just a few weeks. Most companies, whether or not they already had work-from-home employees, had to transition to a fully remote operation.
When the world opens back up after the Covid-19 pandemic, what will the “new normal” look like? Will the work-from-home experiment continue? Many companies, including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Square, have already extended remote work through the end of the year and/or indefinitely.
A survey of CFOs by research firm Gartner found that 74 percent of companies plan to shift some employees to remote work permanently. It is estimated that 30 percent of the entire workforce will work from home at least a couple times a week, compared to less than 10 percent before the pandemic.
On the surface, this sounds great. But this flexibility doesn’t necessarily equate to a better work-life balance — in fact, many are experiencing the opposite effect. While work-from-home does allow the opportunity to get up from your desk and say, throw in a load of laundry, or walk the dog, it also doesn’t allow you to ever “punch out” and leave the office.
“Several data sources show that the typical workday is getting longer. People are signing on earlier and answering questions and queries later, thanks in part to the software that makes all this possible. You’re not leaving to go home. You’re already home,” according to this article from Vox.
Because you have all your work technology at home with you, it’s hard to actually leave work and tune out. Not to mention the other challenges that the pandemic has thrown along the way – homeschooling, daycares closed, etc. Additionally, companies have increased the number of meetings (whether Zoom / Skype / conference call) to help with communication/accountability, and now many workers are feeling over-scheduled and over it.
Bloomberg found that about 45 percent of workers said they were burned out after working from home.
Granted, a lot of this falls on the employee to set a schedule and treat working from home just as they would coming into the office – put on real “work” clothes, set boundaries, etc. But employers also have to realize that working-from-home flexibility may not be a “perk” that keeps employees there… many employees prefer having an office to go into, co-workers to converse with, a lunch room to escape to, etc. Work from home post-Covid will more likely be an adjustment rather than a benefit in an employee’s eyes. Make sure your expectations are realistic and your employees can still maintain a work-life balance, especially when that line is blurred.