If there’s one thing I’ve learned writing this blog, it’s that prediction is very difficult, even if–or perhaps because–one is an expert in a given area. That said, I think this take on teleworking is correct (boldface mine):
I simply cannot fathom a world in which the pandemic is declared over and everybody starts commuting to work again. I do not think that we can go back to expecting people to fork over hours and hours a day sitting in traffic or trapped on a disease tube simply because they have a meeting. Zoom or Skype or Google Hangouts might not be the ideal way to conduct face-to-face business, but the lockdown has shown that any number of daily, mind-numbing check-in meetings can be handled remotely.
There will be resistance to allowing people to work from home after the pandemic has passed. What’s the point of having a sweet corner office if nobody’s there to cower outside it? Working from home robs many bosses and brownnosers of some of their favorite methods for doling out favors and establishing loyalty. When everybody is working remotely, the work kind of has to stand for itself. But that’s a bad paradigm if you’re a talentless man who has your job only because your dad and the boss are golfing buddies. There are a lot of people whose only professional skill is laughing at their boss’s jokes at happy hour, and those people can’t wait to get back to the office.
But the raw efficiency of working from home will, with any luck, cause most offices to embrace working remotely. Now that people have had this taste of managing their own time like the adults they’ve always been, dragging them back into a daily routine of inefficiency and health risks will be hard. Telecommuting was one of the big ideas to emerge in the late 20th century. In the post-pandemic 21st century, it might finally become a reality.
For me, the best thing about teleworking has been not wasting an hour of my life commuting every day. I can sleep longer, and begin my off-work hours earlier. That said, there are meetings that need to be conducted in person, but, for me personally, I could probably work at home three days per week and not miss a beat.
I think this prediction might be correct. I hope it is.