27. March 2020

Work life 2020 B.C. (Before Corona)

Home Office for everyone. The internet is flooded with HOW to do it right. But WHAT is to be done right?

Let’s first see if this setup suits you, no matter which industry you work for:

  1. 1) A computer. There is a huge chance that home office means you, possibly clothed, in front of a computer. If you are among the faster respondents to the corona crisis, you also have a headset and some type of conferencing tool running full time there.
  2. 2) Some beverage. Coffee, tee, water, you name it.
  3. 3A) Perhaps you are now alone, in peace with your thoughts, or missing the sound of your fellow co-workers. One way or another you get all the time in the world to deal with the person closest to your heart: yourself.
  4. OR
  5. 3B) More living beings. You have unexpected participants in your job life, be it kids, animals or other roommates. Also possibly clothed, and possibly walking behind you while you are in that video confcall. Perhaps they also have to make a video call!

There is already a lot of material out there in the web about how to make the best of your home office time and especially on how to keep yourself productive.

In this article we will try to approach the forced home office situation from a different angle:

  • As an employee, what types of new project opportunities does home office open for you and your business?
  • As an employer, what blind spots in your processes and daily business does home office suddenly make you aware of, both the negative and positive ones?

Getting personal

The coronavirus style of confined home office will be a moving, personal experience to most of us. This is a huge chance to try and use that experience as a source of creativity. Whether alone with your thoughts or observing how your kids play, you will be bombarded daily with a lot of thought material that was not really part of your routine in that intensity.

In addition, most of us will have to deal with a lot of more stressful coordination work, as family has to be taken care of, likewise endangered (grand-) parents, and child care, both which are a lot more difficult within the Corona Virus constraints than during normal times. In most countries there is a real chance of Home Office turning into Prison Office, as Lockdowns demand people staying home for as much time as possible.

One of the easiest ways to channel this creativity is to report it. Make out of your new daily experiences content! Whether a text, a short video or an audio message, all these channels are now being used abundantly around the world. The chance of getting your word heard or seen somewhere higher than ever. People are home, bored, thirsty for interesting stuff to read, learn or experience.

In addition, the new home office conditions can lead you to exchanging ideas about work with people that you would otherwise never think about doing. This is also a great chance for a different perspective about topics, ideas and projects. What does your blue collar colleague think about that art project of yours? And how do you see the app she is producing? Useful? Fancy? We are now connected online, and that means the world is the limit.

Down to Business

From a business owner perspective, the home office situation is a dramatic disruption in your daily affairs. Even for most high-tech companies, which are used to it. Remember when you told your workers that “home office within our sector is not possible” (a sentence I head many a bank worker say…), “home office is inefficient…”, etc… etc… well now It does not look like we have an alternative, do we? And voilá! Suddenly it is NOT that difficult to do the same job you did at the office from home, suddenly business still continues and people find new, creative ways of keeping the boat going. That is a human trait, turn impossibilities into realities.

This means that business can now review a huge chunk of its processes and traditions. It is a structural and cultural change merged into one. The way you handle leadership will change, the usefulness and design of traditional meetings called into question and even the basic time = work done schedule exchanged for a more results based approach. The call for that is not new (as Professor Oliver just told us in his latest webinar). The necessity is a given though, and there are no more excuses to holding into older forms of work.

Aftermath

As of the time of this writing the virus is still around and kicking. It will not disappear any time soon. Still it is worth thinking how are we going to integrate these changes into our way of working into the upcoming, 202X A.C. (After Corona) lifestyle. Hopefully we will be there to experience it.

About the author
Julio Prina supports the Executive School at the University of St. Gallen in all themes digital, be it Blockchains, Artificial Intelligence or E-Learning.