You surely have heard of home office lately due to the pandemic scenario we have been going through. Not a new trend on working environment, but now more than ever, it allows entrepreneurs and freelancers to work at their own pace without their companies' usual physical needs.
While for some people this "new normality" is all they've been waiting for, some others struggle with work in a home environment.
Many companies have been speaking about adopting this trend for a long time. Productivity levels have been going up and even if not every employee is getting used to their new way of work, everyone is working hard to balance their jobs and their personal life as much as possible. But will this increase in productivity last that long and is it the only aspect in our lives that will change? Can Zoom really substitute a face-to-face meeting? What are the psychological effects of setting up a home office?
While some companies have granted their employees a choice of working from home of coming to the office, some others have left people with no choice but to work from their homes. We have a lot of data from the past, and nobody has certain numbers about our future, but we have strong reasons to be concerned about such an abrupt and nonvoluntary change.
We are naturally social. We crave for human touch and physical contact. This pandemic has made us think that we can be isolated and be ok, because we can trick ourselves into thinking that there is a higher level of certainty than there actually is. But as we begin to notice things aren't getting back to what we know as "normal", and we have no idea when it will, our anxiety levels start to increase. We biologically crave for meaning, so when there is low familiarity, we feel unsafe. We can't plan anything when there's so much uncertainty that surrounds us, and that makes us feel uncomfortable and helpless. We're unable to know what this change will mean in our life plans and lifestyle, and we are even struggling with important decisions like where to live and what to expect from our careers and emloyability. And uncertainty triggers anxiety.
At first the pandemic seemed like the change our employees were craving for. At last, spending more time with their families and looking for creative ways to spend time at home was beginning to feel like they were longing for this break from their busy lives, and some even began to think we were meant to live this way. But many employees are at risk of feeling more and more lonely. Not everyone has a family to go to. And not everyone in a family is feeling comfortable at home. Not all managers are prepared to transition from a face-to-face meeting to virtual meetings online.
A lot of people had worked from home before the pandemic, and chances are they are able to cope with the new normality much better than those who were accustomed to working in an office and were forced to switch. We're talking about the majority, and their stress levels are likely to rise when trying to cope with working from home alone or with a family that is also struggling to adapt to their new lives.
NO REAL SUBSTITUTE FOR PHYSICAL METTINGS
We certainly cannot forget about our DNA and our evolutionary efforts to adapt to person-to-person interactions and try to replace that with technology and virtual communications. Yes, Zoom and other technologies have helped us feel almost like we're there, looking at people in the eye, but we cannot fool ourselves. It all comes down to our power of imagination. And it's interesting to notice that the technologies that we use the most are precisely the ones that mimic real-life experiences.
IT'S NOT ALL BAD
The fact that a lot of companies can now offer a choice - you can work from home or you can come to the office - is a great way to bring flexibility into our lives. And flexibility is actually a great thing for both our personal lives and our companies' overall health.
Remote work has many advantages, like a boost in productivity and a good work-life balance. Also, companies can start hiring competent talents remotely rather than having to stick to a reduced number of choices, opening a vast array of opportunities in the workplace.