The work-from-home revolution is here. But is it a good thing? – AZCentral.com - Freelance Rack

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Friday, August 7, 2020

The work-from-home revolution is here. But is it a good thing? – AZCentral.com

opinion

Workplace researchers are predicting the coronavirus pandemic will be a “game changer” for work at home as supervisors and employees grow more familiar and comfortable with remote-computing technology and as employers consider the savings in office real estate.

Is this a positive or negative development?

We asked our Voices: Engaging Arizona Facebook group to weigh in.

Amy Nuez, Glendale: As someone who was work at home before the pandemic, I think more companies should offer this option. Working from home allows the employee to have more flexibility during the day and creates a better work environment overall.

There is a night and day difference between the team I managed in office to the team I manage virtually. Working at home reduces the typical workplace drama and creates a collaborative environment, which I find to be more productive.

Linda Lyon, Tucson: I see the shift as largely positive. It provides employees more flexibility, reduces costs for both them and their employers, and should help the environment as well. Post-COVID, I think it will be important for people to find ways to connect with other people so they don’t feel isolated.

Ralph Atchue, Eloy: Before retiring, I lived in a mostly white, middle class suburb of Chicago. When I went to work each day, however, I was in the minority. Most of my coworkers were African American as was the neighborhood I had to drive to. Had I worked from home, I would have missed out on a lot.

When people show up at a workplace, more than work takes place. Complaining about the boss while sharing a coffee break. Talking politics at lunch. Stopping for a cocktail after a tough shift.  

I worry that increased working from home will mean increased segregation on racial, social and economic levels. More isolation could lead to less empathy and understanding.

Jeff Sullivan, Cave Creek: If the job position allows for remote work, then it should be exploited. For the employee, it is an instant off-the-top savings in commute costs of auto fuel, insurance reduction due to lower mileage and so on.

For the employer, there is a reduction in floor space requirements and a happier work staff. The more interesting thing that happens is productivity increases, much to the contrary of what people think; there is no reduction in performance.

There is a perception that a remote staff can’t be managed effectively. There are people who still use the “management by walking around” technique. The problem with the MBWA technique is it is more about taking a roll count disregarding task progress. MBWA is just not that effective.

Michael McAfee, Mesa: During my working career I went from working in an office for a small business with 15-20 employees to working for myself in even a smaller business with two to five employees. At about the midpoint in the life span of my self-owned business, we decided to give up the office space we rented and work from home.

There were pluses and minuses. Conceivably, I was more productive since there was nothing like office hours to divide my work life from my family life. I found myself slaving away at all hours of the day and night. The commute was wonderful. Five minutes in my PJs, including a diversion to the kitchen for coffee.

The negative is a loss of social interaction. We spend almost as much time with our co-workers as we do with our families. Friendships are forged, rivalries are endured. Life happens. Not so much when the only face you see is via Zoom. I think most of us will miss that.

Sue Raatjes, Phoenix: The change to working from home is inevitable. We are witnessing historical changes in the workplace and on school campuses. We’re fortunate to have advanced technology to accommodate COVID-19. It makes sense on so many levels for businesses to increase work-from-home opportunities. Perhaps employees meeting in person one day a week would handle the isolation problem. Worker output is an age-old problem. If someone is a slacker at work, they’ll be a slacker at home!

Jude Clark, Buckeye: As I interface with various companies during the pandemic, I hear the pandemic being used as an excuse for non-responsive behavior. From major companies to the Arizona DMV and Corporation Commission, every one of them has the same excuse: “Please be patient, working remotely is slowing our response times.”

Companies who shift to this type of model should expect a sharp reduction in performance and reliability from their employees, with no real way to check on them. And those industries which require random drug and alcohol testing? Good luck with that.

Sam Buffington, Sun City West: It’s a positive development, without a doubt. It’s a natural evolution of technology and a demonstration of tech improving our lives. It’ll take some time to figure out the processes and work through the negatives, but the positives will clearly outweigh any downsides. The social interaction piece will need to be taken into account. Most of us developed a lot of our friendships via the workplace, not to mention all the marriages.

Robert Walker, Queen Creek: It’s mostly positive, as it gives workers more flexibility and may also allow some to continue educating their kids at home. And that doesn’t include the reduction in travel and air pollution, less wear and tear on streets and highways, and a reduction in the work clothing budget. There is something to be said for the social interaction that occurs at work, though.

Want in on this and other civil debates about the news? Fill out a short form to join our moderated Voices: Engaging Facebook group. 



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