The pandemic hit, offices closed and everyone went home to work. The news was a buzz with phrases like “the new norm” “safe distancing” and “remote/work-from-home” being the new standard. I read the headlines and participated in these amorphous conversations but internally I knew that this new normal would fade. We learned that the expectation and reality of working remote are vastly different however, beyond the pros/cons we have extracted what could be a useful “BENEFIT” some 2 years later . Simply put we are a pack species and being isolated does not bode well for many. A pack is able to accomplish grander feats which yield returns for all, our abilities are sharpened from the sheer competition and training provided by others, and there is a feeling of belonging that all humans seek at some level. Most all of this can be found walking through the doors of your office, especially in real estate development, architecture and construction management. In the office you suddenly stop thinking about the outside world and focus on the issues of the day. You grab your coffee and say “s-up” to your team-mates. You sit in a conference room and share ideas or help figure out where things went wrong. We tried to supplement this 3D tangible-human experience with ZOOMs and TEAMs. It helped for a bit and will always be there but again, we are human, we are a pack and a pack needs to sense the actual presence of others. Now, most of us get queasy when we think of another ZOOM or TEAMs call.
Working from home turned out to be a refreshing change of pace for a lot of people, despite the horrific pandemic (Note: We do not take lightly the suffering that so many endured during this stage in humanity and that is not the intent of this article). No more commutes, parking issues, worrying about the clock, office politicking, getting dressed up! There was no doubt that working from home or just away from the office was rejuvenating. But for many, the need to grab lunch with peers, or simply walk down the hallway to review an item with an associate became not only missed but very much needed. The silence of working remote stimulates the mind of very few and within this isolation many become distracted by the myriad of home-based interferences that are enough propel anyone off their game. Everyone needs a quiet place to work but being fully removed from an abundance of people working towards the same goal becomes atrophying. You need to find all resources within yourself to stay motivated, focused and even more so… accountable. This is extremely true for a younger generation that is incorrectly taught that everything can be accomplished via “social-networking” which is a ridiculous agnomen for something that is polar opposite of what the name denotes. There is benefit to our new business technologies, of course, but the constant need for click-bate interruptions is a slippery slope. Sitting at home trying to work while monitoring a silly twitter feed or Facebook page is going to cause nothing but problems for you long term and in the office that distraction would not be allowed. Younger candidates, just like in a pack, need the training of the experienced members. Whether they want it or not, it is extremely necessary and vital OR we will find ourselves with a string of up-and-comers too weak in actual business social skills to hold the mantle. I get asked by candidates with 1-5 years of experience “Can I work remote?”. It blows my mind that this is even a request at this level. Yes, there are issues today with over-crowed streets, insane fuel costs and exorbitant cost of living so the lure of working from home is a shiny one. But living in the coolest part of town may be killing your career if you’re not one of the lucky few to find a great job close by . There are great careers out there but they are spread out all over. Like a pack, we have to follow the food supply (jobs). Markets change, companies move, cities glow and fade but your career will sustain you if you learn all you can, especially from those who have accomplished great things within the business you are so interested in. Learn what it means to work in a group and absorb that knowledge then learn what it means to push yourself when working alone, avoiding distractions. They are both necessary skillsets but you can’t achieve the latter without the former.
So perhaps “Work-from-home” should be a new “BENEFIT“, like vacation days, in order to attract good candidates. Candidates can earn more “work from home/remote days” the longer they are with the company. It is a motivating benefit that can, if the candidates are trained into the pack effectively, cost the employer almost nothing. These are not “days off” these are “work days” but just not in the office. More experienced candidates will enjoy the recognition perk and lesser experienced candidates will benefit from the in-office training and excel to earn that perk. It all leads to a stronger, smarter and rejuvenated pack.