The honeymoon is officially over – not that it felt like much of a honeymoon to start with. A few months ago, the global pandemic forced the office-bound workforce into their homes, scrambling to set up home offices in all sorts of inappropriate places. Initially, everyone was more than happy to wake up, grab a cup of coffee and start working all within the space of 10 to 15 minutes. But now, as we head into month five of this routine, many companies and employees are more than eager to get back to the office.
Here are five reasons why working from home just isn’t working anymore.
1. Professional connections are tough to establish and nurture
Perhaps the top one for many is the lack of professional connection that they are now experiencing.
Previously, colleagues were able to chat over their coffee break, network in-person and bounce ideas off one another. It’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s not possible to replicate these experiences over Zoom or Google Hangouts.
Working in isolation leaves little room for chance encounters that spark new ideas and many companies are finding that brainstorm sessions are not as productive with everyone sitting on the other side of the computer screen.
2. You can’t guarantee that your work is secure
For many business people, working from the office means that only you and your colleagues have access to your work. When your laptop is at home and you have your children, partner and other people around, the security of your work could well be compromised.
In an office environment, not only is your work secure, but the chances are that your IT team has taken extra steps to ensure that your network is also extra secure. At home, you’re living on your own local network and you probably haven’t accounted for how easy it could be for someone to hack into your connection.
We understand that not everyone is guarding state secrets on their laptops but, for many companies, it’s important for your work to remain confidential and only within the realms of the company. It protects the employees, any ideas that you may be working on, as well as any details of the inner workings of the company.
3. Juggling work and home life is proving to be tough
Under normal circumstances, children would be at school and partners would be at their own place of work. But right now, with school being every second day or sometimes not at all, working parents have found it exceptionally difficult to juggle work, homeschooling and childcare. In fact, parents are burnt out and it’s become tough to separate their professional personas from their parental ones.
Offices provide parents with a break in their daily home routines and focus solely on one task – their work. Right now, many are working into the night because during the day it’s home school, taking care of the kids and running errands.
4. You’re in an endless cycle of emails, Hangout chats, Whatsapps and more
There are so many ways to communicate right now, yet it feels like you’re not communicating in any significant way because none of it is in person.”
Yes, technology has made it easier to reach one another, and it’s meant that working from home isn’t as difficult as it would have been a decade ago. However, it also means that you are constantly sending emails or chatting via text, WhatsApp or Google Hangouts. Before, you could just look up and ask your desk partner a question and you’d get the answer immediately. Now everyone has been forced into an endless loop of messaging. It can get a bit much as messages come in through a number of different ways – as you’re answering an email to one colleague, your boss is reaching out on Hangouts and your other colleague has sent a WhatsApp.
5. It can be lonely
Some people live alone so working from home and not having interaction with other people can prove to be really lonely, especially during these times of social distancing when we’re all trying to stay away from one another. Colleagues were previously able to chat in the kitchen, gossip a little, talk about life, but now that’s all changed and where you would usually be excited to hear a life update from a colleague, you’re no longer privy to that information.
Before lockdown and this new way of working, many regarded desks and the office as a daily prison of sorts.
Now, many are longing to return to a place where there is daily interaction with others. It’s really been a rollercoaster.
So, what’s the solution?
In a COVID-19 world, we obviously can’t go back to the old way of working and having a packed office of people sitting close to one another. A solution could be that, going forward, employees will be allowed to work from home some days, and work from the office on others. If companies need smaller spaces as a result, serviced office spaces such as TBE could be a solution where leases are flexible, someone else takes care of the COVID-19 protocols, and employees are able to work from a space that is solely dedicated to work and there are no blurred lines between office and home.
David Seinker is the founder and CEO of The Business Exchange (TBE).