Confessions of a Telecommuter

3 Groups of Social Distancing in the Workforce

The COVID-19 outbreak has driven more and more employees from the brick and mortar of their workplace to their homes.  As I have been scanning social media over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed 3 groups of people.

The Bored

There are a lot of people who cannot go into their workplace, but also cannot work from home.  In essence, they have nothing to do, workwise, until their place of business reopens.  

Members of this group are easy to spot on social media because their Twitter and IG feeds are filled with stories and pictures of how they filled their newfound free time by reorganizing their sock drawer, jewelry box, or linen closet.

The Adjusting

For years, many employers and many employees have avoided the work-at-home scenario.  The reasons for limiting telecommuting are numerous, and, to some extent, valid.  For instance, many employees lack a viable work environment or tools at home.  The more debatable are concerns over the ability to track and ensure employee productivity.  Regardless of the logic, the current environment has forced employers to compel their employees to figure out how to work from home.  

This group is doing their best, but still has a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to working from home.  This curve is made even steeper because their home is likely filled with distractions in the form of antsy family members also under quarantine, limited bandwidth because their husband chose this time to catch up on his Fortnite Season 2 challenges, and the temptation to constantly check their social media feeds to envy what the “bored” are up to. 

The Wily Veteran

Pick your favorite catchphrase – telecommuting, remote-working, alternate work environment – it has been a growing trend for nearly 2 decades.  This is an expanding group of people who were working from home long before COVID-19. 

They have been working from home for as long as they can remember.  They have it down to a science.  They have overcome the compulsion to get dressed for work.  They shower when they want and eat when they happen to remember to (ideally not at the same time).  They have their home office set up “just so”.  They know how to mute while they ground their coffee or flush their toilet and wash their hands (hygiene is very important in these times).

This group posts on LinkedIn because they are working and don’t have time for frivolous feeds like Twitter and Instagram.  To be honest, some may post on Facebook because they are Boomers.  On LinkedIn, they post pictures of their perfectly staged home offices, with their ergonomic desk setup, communications-optimized headset, and dual monitor configuration.

For this group, the recent stay at home initiative is mostly business-as-usual, except all the kids are home from school and college all day in March, their coworkers who are normally in the office are stumbling through working and connecting from home, their “bored” friends keep posting new life hacks or projects that we may likely never have the chance to get to.

This blog is the introduction to a series of blogs where this wily veteran attempts to pass on some best practices to all of those adjusting.  So stay tuned.

-Matt Christopher @mc_on_uc