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  • Curtis Mackenzie

Could "Work From Home" become permanent? Careful what you wish for, you might get it.

Rather than being optional, or a "perk" for trustworthy employees, "Work From Home" (WFH) arrangements are now a necessary standard around the world. Many workers have been quite happy with the elimination of commuting time, flexibility in their schedules and comfort of working in a more relaxed, home setting. Certainly, many workers are now considering whether (WFH) could, or should become permanent. Irrespective of your opinion on whether it's suitable for your organization long term, there will likely be some long term effects that some workers have not yet fully considered.

1. Fewer chances to learn from co - workers. What we learn does not only come from training programs, we learn from being in the same physical space as more experienced co workers and senior staff. Working side be side allows us to ask questions and see how others do the same job, or those above us performing more complex tasks. (WFH) arrangements reduce these opportunities. This isolation results in less knowledge of how the business works, what is happening, what are the goals and challenges of the organization. Workers will increasingly only know what "they" do in the organization, and become completely cut off from the corporate mission.

"Trends" tend to accelerate and expand. Organizational restructuring like (WFH), that pushes some jobs further "out" of the core organization, might then find those jobs being eliminated altogether.

2. Weaker organizational culture and loyalty. By next year if (WFH) trends continues, you will have some employees that have not even met each other in person, "ever". How does this affect team work? idea sharing? organizational loyalty? Loyalty works BOTH ways, and employers will likely see their staff as increasingly an outsourced employee rather than someone committed to the organization long term. Roles will likely become more "commoditized" In a (WFM) structure as your output is increasingly measured by pure numbers and results rather than a more nuanced view of your total contribution to the business. Employees are unable to contribute beyond their narrow duties and productivity. Tasks like supporting new employees, contributing in meetings, learning, innovating are greatly reduced in a (WFM) setting.

3. Lower Productivity. Many workers will realize they are simply more productive in a traditional office setting. No distractions from personal commitments, increased motivation from co-workers and managers. Even some healthy competition is good for pushing you harder. Especially in jobs like sales, the team as a whole will often perform better working physically side be side. Managing your time on your own is a difficult skill to master ,and many people find it easier to follow the schedule set in an office environment. If your productivity falls, you may find targets missed and this can quickly become unsustainable.

A final comment to think about is that once they are established, "Trends" tend to accelerate and expand. "Organizational restructuring like (WFH), that pushes some jobs further "out" of the core organization, might then find those jobs being eliminated altogether. So although the convenience of work from home in the short term can seem like a win for all, in the longer term this might not be such a benefit to workers.

Based in Tokyo Japan, we support small and medium sized businesses in the Recruitment, Technology and Human Capital industries. Please contact us on Linkedin or at our homepage

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