Remote Work – The New Normal?

Remote Work – The New Normal?For years, millions of us have faithfully participated in the daily ritual of getting up early, getting ready (which can be a process for some…think hair, makeup, school lunches, kids) and out the door to brave mass transit mobs or an endless commute in traffic that doesn’t move.  There are countless people who have yearned for the opportunity to work from home, wondering what it might be like to not go through the routine of getting ready, slogging through the commute and grind of the day, and maybe actually gaining a couple of hours in the process.  The bliss of being able to walk to your desk in your PJ’s, steaming fresh coffee in hand, is the stuff of daydreams.  The remote worker has been something of a unicorn unless you actually knew one.

The events of the last 2 weeks have turned our collective world inside out and left us somewhat bewildered.  Virtually every business sector has had to change the way their workforce operates and most importantly, from where they operate.  The change was quickly instituted and from one week to the next, millions are now suddenly working from home in the interest of social distancing.  It’s a daily adjustment to a strange new reality.

Routine is everything.  Working from home takes the same discipline required for the daily ritual of leaving the house and going out into the world every day.  Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day is a great first step.  Getting ready as if you were going to the office is absolutely necessary.  It will lay the very necessary foundation for establishing a new routine.

With thousands of schools now closed, those with school aged children have an especially daunting challenge as they try to establish 2 routines, one for the adults and one for the kiddos.  They have to somehow incorporate both routines into one that works for everyone.  How do you balance your workday with ensuring the kids are doing what they’re supposed to do?  And how do you not drive each other crazy in the process?

The internet is rich with resources for those new to remote work.  LinkedIn has a “remote workers” group where valuable information, tips and insights are shared. It’s a community approach to navigating what can be an isolating experience.

There are also an impressive number of resources dedicated to offering tips for home schooling during the COVID-19 crisis.  A simple search for “home schooling resources” yields information from all over the country.  A search for “social distancing at home” results in a number of articles on why social distancing is so important, ways to fight the boredom and isolation, and stay connected.

The current global remote work experiment gives companies and employees the opportunity to test-drive the concept in real time.  Some people may find it too isolating.  Others will wonder why it hasn’t happened sooner. The speed with which the transition to remote work was made for literally millions around the globe may trigger companies to re-evaluate their stance on the issue, offering greater flexibility to their workforce and improve employee engagement.