A day in the life of a Nashville computer geek: Remote-Only
Published April 12, 2020, in The Tennessean – JJ Rosen
It was just a few short weeks ago that a day-in-the-life at work meant shaking hands with people, meeting over coffee, flying places, and grabbing an occasional beer with some co-workers. Online meetings were not uncommon, but face-to-face was always preferred and often needed to be efficient.
Flash forward to today.
With an ongoing global pandemic, everything about work has changed. This change from our daily norms has not only been drastic, but it’s also been sudden. For most of us, the transition to being 100% isolated at home, doing all meetings virtually, and having work and family-life become one and the same has been challenging to say the least.
For me, a creature of habit (for better or worse), I was completely out of whack for the first couple of weeks of this new life. But as time has gone by, new routines and work habits have formed. Although it’s taken a bit of getting used to, I’ve started to settle in and somehow feel comfortable. The whole situation is still weird, but I guess I’ve managed to adjust.
But what’s been interesting and unexpected is that some of the friends and co-workers I talk to are not just feeling more comfortable working only at home, but they’re also beginning to feel more productive working only at home.
I don’t think there are any silver linings to a global pandemic that is causing so much suffering. But in the context of work, the situation we all find ourselves in these past few weeks is presenting some alternative ways of doing business.
Virtual meetings over Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams, have cut down on the amount of time it takes to physically gather. All of a sudden, it’s become acceptable to video conference with co-workers and clients in faraway places rather than to deal with the time, expense, and hassle of travel. And even meetings that you would normally have face-to-face in your office have become faster and more efficient when they are moved online.
Commutes have alternated from 30 minutes of driving to 30 seconds of walking from the kitchen to the quietest place in the house to get some work done. There is now more time in the day to manage as each person sees fit.
Business phone calls have become less formal and less stressful. Who would have thought I could take care of several business calls while simultaneously walking around my neighborhood getting some exercise? Where it used to be embarrassing to have your kid crying or a dog barking in the background of the conference call, it’s now no big deal.
Will these new ways of working stick?
No one knows how long we will need to stay home. But, if working this way makes employees happier, more productive, and more efficient, we may be in for a transformation from the way business has always been done. At least for some sectors, fancy conference rooms and corner offices may become obsolete in favor of simply working in an old chair at the dining room table.
There are some companies, especially in the tech world, that we’re already seeing the upside of being a completely remote workforce before the pandemic was forced upon us. Studies of these early-adopters have revealed that ditching the office and making an entire company remote-only does indeed increase employee happiness and productivity. Which in turn increases retention and profits.
As technology advancements make it simpler and easier to keep us connected no matter where we work, we can expect our new norm to become a permanent change to the way many of us work.