The option to work from home is usually considered a privilege, but during the COVID-19 crisis, it's become a necessity. And many employees are learning the hard way that doing their jobs remotely is easier said than done.
On the other hand, there are plenty of benefits to working from home under normal circumstances -- i.e., when there's not a global health crisis and parents aren't stuck juggling job- and child care-related responsibilities. Generally, working from home can be a huge time and money saver.
You don't have to spend what could be hours each day commuting, nor do you have to pay for that commute, whether in the form of fuel for your vehicle or a monthly bus or train pass. Working from home can also lead to a better work-life balance, and depending on your situation, possibly save you money on child care.
It's therefore encouraging to see that 57% of employers say they'd consider changing their work-from-home policies on a longer-term basis if that arrangement proves productive during the current crisis, according to a recent Monster poll. And while it doesn't soften the blow of COVID-19 by any means, it could be one thing for workers to potentially look forward to once things get back to normal.
How does a long-term work-from-home setup sound to you?
Right now, the idea of working from home long term may not appeal to everyone. Some people are learning the hard way that working from home can be a frustrating, isolating experience. And those doing it while caring for kids may be itching to get back to the office.
But if you're thriving in your work-from-home setup, it wouldn't hurt to let your manager know that you're interested in maintaining it once the crisis is over. Chances are, your employer will consider that arrangement or some version of it, like a part-time remote setup.
Of course, it begs the question: How can employers really judge productivity at a time when many workers aren't operating at full capacity -- whether because they're home with kids or their minds are occupied with health concerns and they're just not totally on their game?
Ideally, employers would know to cut workers some slack right now, and also, to look past certain hiccups when assessing whether at-home arrangements can really work for the long haul. Some companies, for example, may not have ever used videoconferencing or screen-sharing tools before because the need wasn't there. But now that they've been forced into the situation, many may come to realize that these tools make remote work a more feasible option.
It's too soon to tell whether working from home will become a broader long-term practice. Right now, many companies -- and individuals -- are really just focused on taking things one day at a time, and understandably so. But we may see a shift in remote-work setups once it's safe to return to a crowded office again, and that could end up being one positive thing to come out of an otherwise dark time.