Working From Home Is Working, Kind Of
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States, the workplace for many Americans dramatically changed overnight. Running a business from the kitchen counter quickly became the new normal. Businesses and companies throughout America have quickly learned to adapt to what has become the new normal in the American workforce. And while many businesses and corporations have hoped for a return to pre-COVID practices, the reality for many has become clearer: at least until we develop a successful vaccine that can fight this virus, the evolution of the new normal in the American workforce is here to stay.
As companies across the U.S. continue to operate remotely, CEOs should be paying attention to what’s working for employees — and also to what’s not. We know that the benefits of working from home have been widely celebrated. It’s been reported that employees are experiencing increases in productivity and less commute stress, and companies are enjoying higher rates of retention and profitability.
But there has also been a downside. Many CEOs are now starting to realize that working from home, while necessary at this moment, may not be a sustainable long-term practice. In particular, isolation has become the biggest issue for 40 percent of remote employees, and 55 percent are feeling an organizational disconnect because of it. This, in turn, will likely affect career development, especially for younger employees who don’t have the opportunity to learn by gaining insight from more experienced coworkers. That’s why it’s so important that we, as business leaders, continue to provide mentorship opportunities that go beyond digital interaction. To give back to our workforce, we need to figure out ways to reconnect more personally.
Even in a post-COVID world, it’s clear that we will never fully return to life as we knew it before the pandemic. I can say from personal experience that many “normal” business practices will soon be a thing of the past. Now, for example, companies are looking for ways to offset carbon emissions, re-evaluating the necessity of business travel, and learning how to do more with less office space. Nearly every other business leader I have spoken to agrees.
Nevertheless, America’s economy will continue to adapt to and embrace new business practices, simply because those practices are financially beneficial to the nation as a whole.