COVID-19 changed us and it will have long-lasting impacts on the business community. I am not here to pontificate on the negative or the positive impacts, just what I feel, in my opinion, will change due to the reshaped landscape of how we will run our companies.
Many people have realized that we can work from home. This will impact office space, office leases and how we work together as a team and we complete our organizational goals.
Bottom line, many of us will now be alone. Sure, this has been a way of life for “gig workers,” IT departments, writers, accountants, truck drivers and many other occupations. This is the first time in the modern era we’ve been asked to find a way to get the work done from home.
Senior management has figured out this might be a “new future” in many companies due to the cost factor. Think about it, rather than travel and jump on an airplane, a business can buy the employee a 65-inch TV, have it installed in your home office or whatever space it will accommodate you. For the price of one plane ticket you can now see people face to face and almost duplicate that live experience of being there while staying home.
There are many downsides that need to be addressed or at least considered if your goal is to continue to develop people.
You Are Alone
Being alone means figuring things out for yourself which might take longer. You cannot walk over to the person near you in the office to ask a couple of questions on how to correct an issue with Excel or a better way to construct a PowerPoint presentation.
No Leadership or Guidance
All professions need leadership or guidance to improve, whether it’s a professional golfer, musician, salesperson, or even a first time manager. Who is going to take you to the next step in your career path? Where would you acquire leadership principles if you are in line for a management position? We tend to learn more from others and those lessons are the ones that stick with us, due to being so personal.
No Practice or Observation
Would you want to go to a doctor who was not trained properly or never had an internship or residency program? I doubt it. Well, those principles apply to almost every other profession to acquire proper skills or expertise to become accomplished at your craft. Even driving school as a teenager has someone in the car with you to show the correct method of how to drive safely. We need to be observed and then to be able to practice what we have learned.
Where are the personal heroes for growth? We have always embraced mentorship whether it was a for-profit company or a non-profit institution. Who do you turn if you are working from home? We need that connectivity and to have those people around us to provide wisdom, insight and their knowledge.
We are all familiar with Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Webex and others. These platforms are wonderful for getting together and connecting, but how effective are they for actually learning new habits, things to change or readjustment? It’s funny, I always go back to the line, “We tell our employees what to do and we show how kids how to do it.”
Can you really teach a kid to ride a bike without the training wheels over Zoom?
Sometimes, we just need to be next to the person for guidance, direction and teaching.
Lastly, the distractions from home. We all know how many times we have been on a Zoom meeting while we are reading our texts or emails at the same time. Would you do that if your boss or the CEO was next to you? I highly doubt it. Forget the baby crying, the dog peeing in front of you or the doorbell ringing from the UPS package that was just delivered. We have so many distraction at home. Are you the kind of person that can truly set up a private home office and not be distracted?
Before you make the decisions to have your staff stay at home due to costs, think of the costs of not developing your people’s proficiency or future leadership roles in your company.
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.