• by Chris Dyer
  • March 9 2021

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Home offices have become a part of life for many people, while those who do not work remotely face unique changes in the workplace. As we all await a return to normalcy, one must wonder: will things ever be truly “normal” again?

Working from Home

Early in the pandemic, numerous companies and industries began the shift to having their employees work from home to reduce exposure to the coronavirus. This presented challenges ranging from equipment acquisition and IT issues to the potential for declining productivity as employees adapted to their new workspaces.

In households with multiple people working from home, the workspace is even less optimal. Increased distractions and the fact that most homes have either one office or none at all have exacerbated the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though some people have desks or full offices at home, countless others do not. Many people found themselves working at their dining room or kitchen table, on their coffee table and couch, or working from their bed – sometimes never getting dressed for the day.

Employees had to adapt to a changing work environment while also coping with the effects of various state and county lockdowns, increasing their mental or emotional strain. Many picked up hobbies at home or increased indoor and outdoor exercise time to ease their stress. As time went on, the work at home situation began to seem less-than-temporary, driving purchases of office furniture for home use. People purchased desks, chairs, lamps, standing desks, and the like to make their workspace more comfortable and productive. With people so well-equipped and gradually adapting to working from home, is there a significant benefit to returning to the office?

Back to the Office

Many companies are likely to continue to work from home as they benefit from the reduced costs related to leasing office space. As some companies seek to return to normal as COVID-19 vaccinations grow increasingly more widespread, many are debating the changes to the physical office space that will be necessary going forward – if any. Will the social distancing practices be continued?

Some new commercial building projects are being designed with layouts that minimize contact and reduce high-traffic areas, advanced air filtration systems, touchless water bottle filling stations, and other improvements that seek to reduce risk of disease transmission going forward. Many of these features can be retrofitted to existing commercial buildings, but are less likely to be deployed among smaller businesses due to financial restraints.

Businesses both large and small are widely expected to continue mask mandates within the office until a clear end of the pandemic is announced. However, no one is sure yet exactly when that might be. Nevertheless, working from home seems as though it may continue even beyond the end of the pandemic. Improved work-life balance for employees and reduced costs for employers are likely to encourage the practice to continue.

About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.