June 12, 2020

WFH: Something New For Your Acronym Soup


As I type this up, I realize that many of you are even now curled up in front of your computer at home in your jammies, “working”.

Many of you are pacing the house, a little wild eyed, trying to manage children and pets, longing for offices to open their doors so that you can GO TO WORK. Your ergonomically arranged office, your office plants, your perfectly arranged multi-monitor setup - it’s all awaiting your return.

The rest of you are already gone. Have been this entire time. Working from home? Your work isn’t in your home. Forget about it. You hit the road at 7 every morning and have every day.

Work life, just like life life, is a complicated conversation.

WFH - Another Acronym for your List

Working From Home (WFH) for many industries is not controversial. Remote work is not just possible - it’s expected. For us, existing tools to manage remote employees make it extremely simple and efficient to not just let people work from home, but also to hire people anywhere in the world.

Some experts estimate that up to 40% of all jobs can be done remotely.

I work with a bunch of introverts. We’re happy working from home. I worked at a Saskatoon company while living in Calgary for 4 years. There are lots of perks: the aforementioned working in your jammies, no need to battle the traffic beast, looking cozily out the window on a frosty winter morning with your first cup of coffee, 10 minutes before the opening bell.

All good stuff.

There are also downsides. No fun staff lunches. No impromptu end of day gatherings for “safety meetings”. Less general chit chat that solidifies team camaraderie. I never met some of the employees that I worked with over the years. I assume they were good people. Mostly they were type on a screen.

The general takeaway is that when you work remotely, you miss out on the Life part of Work Life.

The Times - They are A’Changin

For some, yes, times seem very different. Some digital companies have closed their office doors and are working with their employees on what permanent WFH looks like.

For larger companies, this might mean outfitting previously office only employees with new WFH office fixins. Those of us in one bedroom apartments are eyeing the last remains of available space a little ruefully.

For smaller companies, this means learning how to manage Work Life, productivity, and company culture in a myriad of creative ways.

For pets, this means all that alone time has mysteriously vanished. Dogs rejoice! Cats glare reproachfully. Fish - well fish are fish. It’s more like mobile wallpaper (sorry fish lovers).

What happens, though, if you have mixed in among your rejoicing WFH advocates individuals who struggle with self motivation when working alone in their homes? How do you manage employees who need that hard divide between Work Life and Home Life? What options are available for those who miss the office camaraderie to the point that they are demotivated?

If you’re looking for answers to these questions, then I’ve misled you terribly. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m more of a problem presenter than an oracle of truth.

Rampant Speculation, Anyone?

There’s plenty of that to go around.

Seems that bloggers (oh hi there) and journalists are salivating to be the Nate Silver of WTF Is Happening RN: 2020 Edition.

I’ve seen several articles predicting the END OF OFFICE SPACE FOREVER!!

Then there are the cautious planners and their speculation on how companies will now be outfitting home offices for everyone.

Productivity? Through the roof or dead as a doornail - take your pick.

Here’s our speculation: as per usual, we will adapt and find solutions that work for what we need, and for what our industries, clients and employees demand. Predictably, it will look like a whole lot of different things.

There will still be people that roll out at 7 AM after hitting the gym (I don’t know any of these people. There’s just no way I’d ever meet them while sleeping.).

There are those who will continue to enjoy their WFH situation, and take advantage of the privilege of managing results-oriented projects that allow them to set their own working hours. You are envied by many.

Then there are those of us that want a little of everything. Let’s call it the ‘Have Your Cake, and Also Eat Your Cake’ crowd. We’re all on board at Levis. We’ve settled on a 3 day office/2 day home arrangement for the time being, and there have been noises that it’s likely here to stay.

Good Time to Try

Over the years, there’s been a lot of reluctance to try out WFH policies for several reasons. It requires new policies, different management styles, a range of new office tools, and a lot of trust in your teams.

But, as the old saying goes, you never know until you try. This unique situation we’re in now has given a lot of companies the opportunity to try it out and see if WFH is a manageable situation, or if it’s truly the END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!

What’s working for you in your current situation, as a business owner or as a new WFH employee? Let us know how you’ve kept swimming in “these trying times” (sorry, not sorry).

I am sorry to those of you who are watching this conversation from the outside at your jobs that you can’t do from your computer, if you did in fact read this far. Someday, robots will take over and you can just control them from your home. How’s that for some speculation?

Take care out there. We miss you all.

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Saskatoon, SK S7K 1Y3

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