How long is this gonna last?
The pandemic has caused a massive shift in the remote workforce, as millions have turned apartments and homes into a makeshift office space. According to new survey data, most workers are still unprepared for the challenges of working from home. Companies like Twitter and Salesforce have announced long-term plans for working from home, while KPMG reports that nearly 70% of large company CEOs plan to downsize their office space. Meanwhile, one in four workers under the age of 25 have lost their jobs, and 40 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment right now. Flexjobs and Mental Health America report that 75% of people have experienced burnout at work. Is it any surprise that nearly half of all people under the age of 30 report feeling anxious, according to the CDC?
The new normal is a massive shift; remote workers need new ideas and strategies to be better prepared for the future of work. Does that mean that the emotional stress, scheduling turmoil and family conflicts will remain as well? Perhaps the future belongs to those who prepare for it: data suggests that an investment in digital transformation is required.
A Nulab survey of remote workers shows that a staggering 72% are not working from a dedicated office space. And 40% of remote workers aren’t even working from a dedicated desk.
- Nearly 20% of workers are making a go of it from the living room
- 28.5% are working from the master bedroom
- A majority (56%) were unable to bring equipment from their employer to work from home.
- A third admit to personally purchasing equipment to help them work remotely during COVID-19.
- The average spend on home office equipment was $194
In her new book, Working from Home: Making the New Normal Work for You (out today from Wiley) author and Salesforce executive, Karen Mangia, shares several ideas for beating back burnout. She shares in her book that your laptop is your pantry.
“When you’re working from home, [work is] always there. Always available. It’s unhealthy if you’re always peering into your work pantry,” Karen writes. She advocates for a segmentation: even if you don’t have a dedicated office, you still need a dedicated space where you go to work. And a place where you can leave work behind. “When work is always on and always available, it’s vital that you create some healthy segmentation.”
Forbes contributor Brant Pinvidic agrees. Brant is a Hollywood television producer, known for reality shows like The Biggest Loser and Bar Rescue. Pinvidic says that you’ve got to invest in your home office setup in the same way you might invest in a business meeting or conference. “What would you spend on that meeting?” he asks, referencing times gone by. “You might fly to the event. Stay overnight in a hotel. Rent a car or take a train to meet your client. What if you invested the cost of just one business trip into your virtual office setup?”
Today, the world of work is virtual. Companies need to consider an investment around the number one need for navigating the new normal: adaptability. So, does that mean tech tools, or training? The answer is yes.
There’s a lack of clarity around what communication means in the new normal. Not every meeting has to be eyeball to screen. Measuring keystrokes and tracking website visits is surveillance, not leadership. Technology and tools are vital to the virtual world, but what is it that makes a tool useful? As Eric Clapton says, it’s in the way that you use it. Smart leaders understand that the home office is the workspace of today and tomorrow. The future of work is based on identifying and sharing new resources, so that your team can access ideas that aren’t going away anytime soon.