Technically it’s do-able. People can sit at their kitchen tables, or in bed, or in a recently converted home office space, and type away on computers and have endless and largely pointless Zoom calls, and businesses still operate and sales get made and stuff still happens.
What this process ignores, as is so often the case with technology solutions, is the actual reality of being a human being. A social animal. A thing with a personality that requires interactions with other human beings in order to maintain wellness.
Everyone I’ve met who works from home has had enough of it. More than enough of it. Way more than enough.
The reality of the situation is that very few people happen to have a spare room that they can convert into an office space. I’ve seen people with double monitors and powerful desktop computers running vital operations for major companies with the entire set-up on a kitchen table in a terrace house with three young children running around. Since when is this an optimal solution?
The work may ‘get done’ but the disruption that companies are so keen on causing in the market is now thoroughly redirected into the domestic environment of the workforce. No longer are businesses “disrupting the finance sector” they’re disrupting the kitchen of their employees.
Business is stressful enough without dragging the entire set-up into the home as some semi-permanent fixture. We aren’t working from home anymore, we’re living at work, and the removal of the separation of work and home, off and on, work and relaxation, is definitely not sustainable, definitely not a good idea, and definitely going to cause the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees to continuously decline.
Work from home was an emergency measure brought in during a crisis. It’s not a functional long-term solution. We are social beings, and the removal of the social aspect of work is damaging. We are collaborative beings, and the removal of the ability to collaborate other than in orchestrated and totally artificial digital ways is a disaster.
We discover and learn and find opportunities and grow by meeting people, making connections, exchanging ideas and understandings and making more connections from these connections. That’s how humans innovate and develop and in business that’s how new opportunities are discovered and how new relationships are formed.
Relationships, that’s the bottom line, the fundamental thing that work from home is debilitating. It’s preventing the formation of real relationships related to work and business, and it’s distorting and damaging the relationships of the people who are now forced to live and work and sleep together in a relentless drone of continuance.
We were forced into this scenario by circumstances, and had to adapt to it, and well done everyone for that. But just because we can, it definitely doesn’t mean we should.
For some it’s a convenience, but for many it’s a certain way to steadily erode their lives and personalities. Yes it’s possible to work from home, but having that as a continuous way of life, meeting zero other people, having zero real interactions with other people, how is that anything other than isolating, distorting, and quietly and slowly maddening?
Business happens through the organic interactions of humans. We meet, become friends and associates, discover new opportunities, and expand our social networks and our professional networks and the neural networks of our minds.
It’s time to re-open the offices and get back to business. And in doing so, get back to life. And back to our homes and families. Employers have a responsibility to provide an appropriate workspace. Your home is not that workspace.