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In the past six-months, we have shut down our economy, self-isolated, quarantined and pretended to be teachers. We have worked from home, given up travel, and learned to use Zoom, Teams and Google Hangouts, skipped birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and funerals. We have re-launched, reintegrated into society, sent our children back to school and realized this pandemic is not a short-term inconvenience, but a long-term challenge.

My family (near and far) have been meeting weekly to check in with one another every Sunday evening since Easter Weekend (we use Zoom for these meetups). We laugh and have Sunday dinner together and it is voluntary, so if you have something more important to do, there is no judgement for not showing up. Sometimes we have a large, raucous group that tends to engage in several conversations at once and other times we have only 2 or 3 participants and we talk more deeply about highs and lows, what we are feeling and how we can support one another.

This week we talked about working from home vs. working in the office. I should let you know, this is a very diverse group, we range in age from 20 – 70, so we have got Boomers, Karens, Millenials and Zs! I’m sure you can imagine the lively discussion, and though our ages and stages in life vary dramatically, one thing remains consistent, we all feel the impact of reduced social interaction.

Back in March and April there were many articles written on the increase in employee productivity as people began working remotely. According to Business News Daily, remote employees worked 1.4 more days every month, or 16.8 more days per year than their counterparts who worked in an office environment. The reduction in commute time) allowed for more free time, the fuel and maintenance savings were seen as a benefit and remote workers claimed they spent more time on physical exercise and less time fighting illnesses, which are often spread throughout confined office spaces.

This is in stark contrast to what I read today: “Productivity Drops as Work from Home Fatigue Sets In” and “Work from Home Model Changed Worker Productivity – Especially on 2 days of the Week”. No surprise, Monday, and Friday.

According to Fortune Magazine, “remote work is no substitute for organic interaction and creative combustion has taken a hit”. Young workers have been disadvantaged by missed learning opportunities and employees are feeling exhausted working from home every day. Company culture is suffering, onboarding employees has become a logistical nightmare, employees are missing face-to-face connections with colleagues and are having trouble setting boundaries when it comes to beginning and ending the workday.

As we continue to move through the pandemic and meet the long-term challenges head-on, it’s important to take everything into consideration: what our health authorities are advising, what direction our legislators are providing, and what our employees need. It was interesting to learn that Tech companies still believe in physical space, lawyers want to get back to the office, and Millennials and Gen Z workers are anxious to go back. There are several large organizations, and even countries, encouraging and ordering workers back to the office.

Whatever you choose to do, it is important to get the advice of an HR Professional to help navigate these uncertain times. If you’re looking for resources, please check out the 8-part Employer Workshop Series by Community Futures Entre-Corp which includes titles such as Recalling your Workforce after COVID-19 and Managing Remote Employees. For further information and scheduling please check out the Community Futures Entre-Corp Facebook Event Page. #YXH2gether

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