How Working from Home Has Changed Employees and the Workplace

A Black remote worker with a beard and short hair smiles broadly while working from home using a laptop set up at a butcher-block kitchen counter. He wears round, wire-rimmed glasses, a gray T-shirt, an earring, and a smartwatch. In front of him lies a notebook, a smartphone, and a case holding wireless earbuds. A drinking glass sits left of his work area. An exposed brick wall is behind him.

As COVID-19 cases surge once again, organizations that were eager to have employees return to the office are delaying those plans — in many cases, indefinitely. This means that many employees will continue to work from home, whether they like it or not.

There are pros and cons of working from home, both for employees and employers. For example, one common concern among company leadership is about distractions at home and reduced productivity. Some have gone so far as to determine how to monitor employees working from home. On the other hand, working from home has revolutionized the employment perks enjoyed by many workers, offering more flexibility and fewer formalities compared to the office.

Maintaining productivity while ensuring employees stay happy in their roles is a balancing act that organizations strive to perfect. However, as the world’s progress toward ending the pandemic fluctuates, it’s important that both sides of this discussion — employer and employee — take steps to ensure a healthy and prosperous partnership.

Tips for Employees

How to Stay Motivated Working from Home

One of the best ways to stay motivated and avoid burnout is setting goals. But not all goals are made equal. Large, abstract goals that are difficult or time-consuming can be more harmful than helpful, leaving you feeling inadequate as you fail to meet milestones. Instead, set small, attainable goals that can be accomplished steadily over the course of a project or period of time.

How to Stay Focused Working from Home

Distractions are present in any working environment, but working from home can often pose even greater challenges to remaining focused. Aside from removing distractions, such as phones, televisions, and other entertainment sources, one of the most effective strategies is creating a dedicated workspace that helps divide work from home. In the absence of a commute, having a workspace that is detached from the areas of your home where you relax and unwind will help you mentally “clock out” when work ends.

Tips for Employers

How to Keep Employees on Track

Similar to how employees can set goals for individual growth, good leaders can set goals for their teams that will help keep people across job functions aligned and motivated. To support these goals, leaders should remember to encourage their employees at every milestone and make sure to be present to support them as needed.

How to Avoid Becoming an Absentee Leader

Absentee leaders are those who are disengaged from their teams. Absentee leaders don’t communicate with or actively lead the employees who rely on their guidance. To evaluate the strength of your leadership, look at the effectiveness of your team to gauge if your employees are effective, communicative, and empowered in their roles. Other strategies for avoiding absentee leadership include setting up open-door time or one-on-one check-in meetings, creating agendas to structure meetings, offering opportunities for employees to share feedback and ideas, and investing in team building.

While 2022 is already starting off with uncertainty, organizations around the world are taking forward the lessons of the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and adapting to the new realities of doing business. Both employee and employer will play a role in the success of this ever-evolving, work-from-home environment, and flexibility and understanding on both sides are our best tools in building success.