Monday, September 6, 2021


The acronym that is the title of this post is WFH - Working From Home.

I don't know if the acronym predates COVID, but it has definitely come into its own since the beginning of the pandemic some 18 months ago. 

Many companies, after sending folks home in the beginning, brought folks back after a few months. Some have done it more gradually. Some have developed hybrid models, with a combination of working in the office and WFH. Others have maintained the WFH model. 

I find it fascinating to observe. The fact is, a lot of folks like WFH. They claim it saves them all kinds of commuting time and gas money. It helps with family life. 

All of that is understandable. 

Consequently, these folks would like to continue WFH. Some employers, however, want their employees on site. 

What is especially interesting to observe is the standoff between the employers who say, "Come back to the office" and the workers who say, "I don't want to."

I'm old school, so I tend to be of the opinion that WFH is not an entitlement. If your employer wants you on site, I suppose that's where you need to be if you want to keep your job with said employer. 

Or, if WFH has become a non-negotiable for you, perhaps you need to seek employment with an employer that will allow it. 

But therein lies a bit of the rub. We are at a place in history where employment is a seller's market, meaning many skilled employees have the upper hand, and many employers desperately need workers. 

"I'll see your 'you can't work from home' and raise you with 'see if you can find someone to fill this job that has my qualifications.' " 

Who is bluffing whom? It's hard to tell. 

But these are interesting times in the workplace. 


The Weaver of Grass said...

And interesting food for thought for someone like me - well past retirement age.

Ed said...

Fortunately I wasn't working anywhere officially when this all went down. But from my previous work experience, I know that I wouldn't be able to do my job effectively WFH 100% of the time. But I do know I wasn't effective either WAO (Working At Office) 100% of the time either. Too many interruptions, distractions and pointless tasks that didn't help anyone. So to me, it seems like a hybrid model would be the best model, at least from a former engineering viewpoint.

Bob said...

Yeah, Ed, I think the WFH proponents espouse much of what home school advocates do — that a lot of time is wasted and tasks can be completed in a fraction of the time it takes in a classroom/office. My counter to the home schoolers has always been the importance of socialization and learning to be part of a group. And that’s what I miss most about going to work now that I’m 100 percent WFH. But at my age, in the sunset of my career, I can live with it and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Jeff said...

The problem with me working at home is that there are two others (wife and daughter) doing the same. But I have always done some work from home since I left the bakery at age 24.

Debby said...

My son works from home and his company (a Canadian company) actually considered the money they'd be saving in rent if they could switch to WFH. Surprisingly, the engineers themselves seemed to need a chance to meet and work together. Dylan had never met most of the people he works with, having come on board in the middle of covid. He enjoys his office time, but he also enjoys working from home. The commute is just one reason.

Kelly said...

My younger daughter never had the option of WFH. Her office closed for one week in March of 2020 then went back to business as usual. I believe there were rules for awhile on who could come into the courthouse, but that was about it.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Bob - We went to WFH in March of 2020, with only "essential" employees on site. We have been through at least one expansion of returning, followed by an immediately collapsing back down in July 2021.

In spite of what is likely 50% of staff being off site, the business has continued to move forward and make progress. For certain job roles like mine (Project Management), working from home is no different than working from the office: I am still involved in and running meetings all the time and following up on tasks, but I am doing it all virtually now. And I do think that having to work virtually has in some ways made all of us better communicators, because we can no longer rely of visual or even to some extent verbal cues to express messages.

When asked if I and my fellow Project Managers thought returning to the office would be useful, we were unanimous in our opinion of "No". We all find we are actually more effective, not less, by being remote.

One other thought that is for remote employees, companies do not have to increase office space or overhead (instead, all that gets transferred to the employee). I think that at some point going forward, that will start to play into how businesses hire and plan.