I do not know about you, but I put in a lot more hours when I work remotely. No commute, no dress code, no make-up required. Having the computer staring at you every time you walk by your office makes it so easy to do “just one more thing” and next thing you know, your work day is 10, 11, maybe 12 hours plus. With that said, I have been hearing a lot about employers looking to cut back on compensation and benefits since employees are now getting the extra “benefit” of working from home full-time due to the pandemic. As you may have noticed, I do not subscribe to that approach.
I am witnessing burn out on the part of employees. I hear and see the exhaustion with my clients. Dedicated employees are dedicated employees regardless of where they are working. Employees are not just working long hours, but managing their household without any assistance. Cleaning services have been canceled. Lawn services terminated. Going out to eat a thing of the past. Child care eliminated. All those services that allow employees to work longer since those tasks have been taken care of are no longer an option with fear of contracting COVID. Therefore, employees are juggling more now than ever even with the “luxury” of working from home.
I would suggest that employers consider offering more support during this difficult time. I am not referring to financial support. Rather, recognizing that employees may need some in-kind rewards. My clients are doing things like providing extra PTO, purchasing gift cards for favorite take-out restaurants, sending gift baskets of games for the kids to keep them busy, and offering care packages full of sweet treats. Additionally, managers are taking care of their teams by ending the work day early and engaging in a game of virtual trivia.
Employers recognizing the toll the pandemic has taken on employees will only build loyalty and result in employees working even harder. When I had my first child, I ventured into the world of consulting. I would visit clients when needed, but the bulk of work was performed in my home office. My father-in-law and I debated on occasion the effectiveness of working from home. He is very traditional and felt the quality of the work would suffer without being in a formal office environment. That was until he broke his leg almost at his hip bone and was put on bed rest for 3 months during the healing process. During that time, he worked from his recliner chair. He realized that he worked longer hours and got more done because there were fewer distractions (his children were grown at the time). That experience completely changed his mindset and he became much more flexible with his workforce.
I urge employers to focus on whether the work is getting done opposed to assuming employees must not be working as hard from home and therefore cuts must be made. Employees appreciate flexibility and understanding that they have personal lives outside of work. Employers that recognize that and take care of employees holistically will reap the benefits of a loyal workforce that will work even harder.