It was March of last year – 2020. The year of turmoil. The year that tested us all. COVID hit this country, and with no warning, no ceremony, and certainly no advanced planning, we all went home to work.
I work for a State government I.T. organization, so we had a distinct advantage right out of the gate. Just about everyone in my agency (and certainly everyone on my team in the Security Operations Center) already had a laptop, and were accustomed to logging in and working from home. But most State employees for the most part were not already familiar with remote access, and did not know how to set themselves up to access our internal resources from home.
There were many challenges to overcome in those early days of the pandemic. Suddenly there were more than ten thousand employees that needed to have secure reliable access to our resources from home. The kind of perfect-storm scenario that are the things of legend for those in the desktop support game. A genuine opportunity to rise to the occasion and show what I.T. folks can accomplish when the heat is on.
Like everyone else, I have been working from home myself for going on 16 months now. A morning routine that ends not with an annoying commute, but by walking into my home office has become the new normal. The way things are. I look back on the days I spent in my office at work as a distant past. The way things used to be.
Teams and Zoom became our meeting rooms. Chat windows became our new ‘swing by your desk with a question“. It took a little time, but soon a quick video call replaced the chats around the water cooler. Side chats, easier to maintain when multi-tasking anyway, became the conversation over the cubicle wall. Life and work adapted to the new normal, and we all realized that we not only could do our jobs, but that we were in fact more productive than we had been in the office.
By and large it was found that my fellow employees were more likely to work in excess of eight hours in a day when teleworking. More likely to skip breaks and work through lunch. In short, were cranking out more work in a day from home than they ever had in the office.
Only now are they beginning to make noises at work about bringing us back to the office. Somehow convincing us all that it is important we all come back together in brick-and-mortar office buildings.
The problem is that this position no longer passes the straight-face test. We have proven otherwise. Life for the past 16 months has proven otherwise to the world. We have done it. We have proven beyond any doubt that a large organization can send 90% of its workforce home to work, and they need not ever come back to the office. Done. Fini. End of discussion.
If only it were so.
Unless your employer is very forward-thinking, they are probably making the same noises about everyone going back to the office. This leaves you with two choices. Go back to the office, or fight for something better. For most corporations, “something better” has to come down to the bottom line. The fact is that in most cases, companies can save a huge amount of money if they transition to a full-time remote workforce.
My current employer is a State government that has been in the habit for years of renting office space for their State employees instead of building/owning office space. If even half of the people currently working from home were allowed to continue to do so, the savings to the State in terms of rented office space no longer needed would be in the millions per year. If your employer rents its office space, this would be true for them too.
The bottom line is that we all now live in a brave new (almost) post-COVID world. At least we are beginning to see the light of a new dawn on the horizon. Our reality has been forever changed. We have proven that it can work. We can all work from home and still be productive, while saving our employers money.
Fight for the future you deserve!