One of the serendipitous discoveries of the “stay at home” ordinance now in effect in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is just how unnecessary offices are. Many companies, big and small, have told their employees to stay at home; work from there, it is safer.
Many of those employees are finding that they can function just fine and dandy from the comfort of their living room or kitchen. Some say they are even more productive.
What if this catches on?
Many day-care centres would find a reduction in business as parents realize they can operate from home with the children there. There would be a drastically reduced number of cars on the streets if people woke up and found themselves already “at work”. Public transit services could also be reduced to accommodate fewer commuters.
You can cough or sneeze and no one cares if it isn’t into your elbow. Video conferences require getting only half-dressed and you can drink wine out of a coffee cup. Pets are pleased to have you home, and dog walking provides an excuse for not being reachable. Background TV binge watching all day.
Every workplace has an office idiot; when you work from home that’s you! Of course you’re also the go-to guy, office drunk, joker, slacker and that guy who showers but once a month.
Unfortunately, those businesses that rely on office workers for much of their clientele – restaurants, bars, shops in office towers – would also feel the pinch.
And what about all those nearly empty office buildings? Even if companies scale down to a skeleton staff on-site, they won’t need nearly as much space. Condos?
But keep in mind that there are variations on the home office theme. There are those whose job requires coordinated interaction with others so they must work a standard nine-to-five day. Then there are those who are more independent and can work whatever hours they want – early morning, middle of the night, entirely up to them. What matters is the bottom line, how you get there is your business.
I could, and often do, function best with the latter approach. Tell me what you want and when, and I’ll do it on my time. There are too many distractions (i.e. that comfy chair for an afternoon nap) at home for me to stay focused in the same way I would in an office environment.
And it’s okay to have a home-office romance because the only other person working there on another computer is my wife!
The self-isolation extravaganza has demonstrated just how adept we are at getting things done.