Things have gotten back to normal since the peak of COVID-19. The percentage of check-ins and restaurant reservations that are pre-pandemic is 90.7 percent. Businesses are not able to get employees back into their offices.
41.2 percent of office space is occupied by employees who work from home, compared to 100 percent before the pandemic. Learning, peer input, vision and mission alignment, communication and important relationships are fostered by an office-first environment.
According to a 2012 Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization study, if everyone works from home, an entire office will perform worse. As new distraction were found, the Organizational and Economic Sociology study showed a diminishing return on workplace productivity.
The work from home phenomenon has become a perquisite for white-collar employees who don’t have to stay on site. Many large companies have had enough and want their employees to return to work. Musk issued an ultimatum to the company’s employees, telling them to return to the office or leave.
Many large companies have adopted an office first strategy. Best Buy, IBM, Yahoo, Bank of NY, and other companies are moving away from hybrid systems to eliminate most of the options.
Employees want to work from home. Some perceived worker benefits may be short-lived. According to a 2020 study by Airtasker, 29 percent of WFH employees struggled with finding a work-life balance. Only 23 percent of office workers reported the same.
There are some travel benefits for workers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American commute is 56 minutes a day. The eliminated commute allows more time to be spent with family. Personal tasks can be left unattended for weeks.
A corporate assistant is employed by the owner of an accounting firm to help employees with tax time tasks. The assistant saves several hours per week for employees by delivering lunch, buying groceries, sitting at home for appliance installation, etc.
Workers who are reluctant to come back to the office may point to their improved productivity. It wasn’t just a change in location that caused their productivity to increase. There is forced time blocking. People were bothering co-workers during the day. If employees are taught to respect boundaries, they will return to the office and increase productivity. It is old fashioned time blocking.
Tim, an executive at a bank, tried time blocking, but failed. Managers would choose three-hour chunks of times on certain days.
The time blocking rules were followed by the assistants and they did not schedule any meetings for the managers. The managers would pick up phone calls, reply to e-mails, neglect to close their doors, and forget to put up a do not disturb sign. They didn’t work on projects because of the demands of the client and co-worker.
In 2020, Tim instructed his employees to work harder. People were not allowed to walk into the office to interrupt their colleagues. Continuous, noninterrupted efforts on critical projects were allowed because of the fading need to return nonpriority e-mails.
A requirement that everyone must be in the same room at the same time to make decisions was mandated by theWFH. It’s practically day-long time blocking.
The advice given to the employees was to make a to-do list, prioritize a task, work on it for 30 to 45 minutes, take 5 to 10 minutes breaks, and then continue. It has just been working better from home than from the office because the workers aren’t facing peer or management pressure to become distracted.
It is difficult to get your team to operate at their best rate because they are awesome people. They are loyal to the firm but also have relationships with their colleagues.
Employees don’t want their peers to think they are shirking their responsibilities. When employees are given a task that is not urgent, they stop what they are doing. Employee yield is dragged down as if it were links in a chain. It is not possible to complete meaningful work in a timely fashion.
If you are involved in the situation, you should ignore it. You are responsible for some of the drag on output if you charge an employee an assignment at the last minute. If there is no clear direction, no clarity of priorities, and no follow-up protocol.
If you expect your employees to be available to you immediately via e-mail or other channels, then you should expect them to. You are partially to blame for not giving them the boundaries they need to be focused on their work.
It is easy to understand time blocking. Instead of checking things off the to-do list when you have a chance, you dedicate periods to a specific task or project.
You know what it is, but you may not have been able to get your teammates to stick to it. Instead of scheduling work, you’ve been scheduling interruption. You risk not getting to your work if you don’t schedule time for it.
You can use time blocking software to make your office more accountable. Plan, Sunsama, Reclaim, tick tick, Todoist, Motion and TimeBloc are some of the things to consider. It is helpful that software is easy to apply across the team. Team agreement will make it harder for others to steal time.
Increased productivity is a false reason to offer it, even if I am not suggesting eliminating it. Lessons learned from remote working should be applied to an office environment.