Setting Up the Home Office

Not so long ago, most businesses were wary of WFH.

After decades of industry revolving around physical offices as the critical epicenter of daily operations, it has taken some time for managers to catch up to modern technology. Even so, work from home has previously been seen most often as a perk at trendy Silicon Valley startups or bright new tech companies. Now, over six months into the pandemic, companies haven’t been able to avoid giving it a try.

Even prior to coronavirus, 80% of employees were interested in work-from-home opportunities being built into their benefits. Now, companies that are equipped to continue operations from home are finally seeing the results – albeit for more extended periods of time than anyone may have wanted or anticipated. With major companies like Twitter announcing that WFH flexibility will extend even when things return to a more familiar future, businesses big and small are exploring how to be most agile in the face of future challenges. Global Workplace Analytics predicts that 25-30% of the workforce will still be working-from-home for multiple days a week by the end of 2021.

Now, many companies are exploring perks like stipends to foster home office environments that encourage comfort and productivity. Communication has shifted to virtual meetings, with Zoom locking in the top digital spot for meeting tools. In April, the video platform saw an increase of 50% in daily users, peaking at 300 million users shortly after. The phrase Zoom University gained traction across social platforms when colleges began to announce transitions to virtual learning for the fall semester. One question persists, though: with work, play, rest and relaxation all now confined to the same spaces, how can we try to avoid burnout?

First, experts say one of the best habits to form is to confine work (or studying and class time for students) to a specific space and in a specific window of time. One major source of WFH burnout is the inability to disconnect, leading to always feeling tethered to work through the screens that surround all of us. One study in May shared that over a third (around 34%) of employees were suffering from burnout – now, after even more time in relative isolation and attempts to remain in small circles, that number is presumed to have grown. Another suggestion seems like it may be obvious, which makes it worth emphasizing: use that PTO. Being at home, it may seem redundant to take time off, but vacation days are perhaps more important than ever before.

Although the future has proven itself unpredictable, experts imagine a “hybrid” environment in which combinations of in-office time and WFH are encouraged, especially for the younger generation entering the workforce. Gen Z was polled with 74% reporting a preference of working from home or splitting time at the office. One recent headline in The Atlantic shared that the workforce is about the change dramatically – but from where we’re sitting (at home), it looks like it already has.