There have certainly been a number of downsides to the stay-at-home edicts, social distancing, business restrictions, and quarantines. There have been major disruptions in the economy. People have seen their finances upended as their jobs disappeared as businesses closed. Unemployment has skyrocketed from about 3% to better than 10% in a matter of weeks. Social isolation has increased and people are feeling that isolation.
Despite all of this, there has been at least one upside to the Covid-19 pandemic: Working from home.
I’m not talking about the actual act of working from home. I am talking about the advantages being discovered by companies forced to close their offices and have their workforce shift to working from home.
I think it is no secret that most companies have been reluctant to allow their employees to work from home. Call it the archaic “We have to keep an eye on them at all times” mindset. The Powers That Be figure that unless they can see their employees at all times that they won’t work. But with the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 precautions, working from home was the only alternative to closing the business, nothing any business wanted to do. So they were forced to move their operations from their offices to their employees homes.
What did many of them find out with this move?
Work efficiency went up and costs went down.
First, let’s address costs.
Office space costs. There’s a cost per square foot of office space. That cost includes rent, furniture, heating, cooling, lighting, phones, Internet service, storage space, and janitorial services, just to name a few. But what if those costs can be reduced by having a good portion of the staff working from home? The space needed is reduced which in turn reduces all of the other costs.
I can state from my personal experience that working from home is more efficient for me, at least when it comes to dealing with the ‘paper’ side of things. (I still have to go into the office a couple of days a week during the stay-at-home period because that’s where our labs are located.) I find I get more done in a given period of time, am more focused on the task at hand, and am not as easily distracted. It wouldn’t surprise me that others working from home experience the same things I have.
I think more than a few companies are rethinking their policies about working from home now that they have hard facts about doing so. I’m going to predict that some of them will start using it as a standard policy because they’ve found that it works.