Yesterday, I spoke about some of the new questions that arose since many began telecommuting. This brought up whether or not working from home should be the new norm, after the international nightmare that we’re all living is over.

While I believe that some people can work from home, and some jobs can be done remotely, and that this model works for some…

I do not think that working from home is a shift that we want to take.

Here are my cons:

  1. What would we do with existing office space?
  2. How would we make up for tax revenue because office space wasn’t rented/bought and buildings are empty?
  3. What about other people who work in office buildings such as custodial staff, security, building maintenance and electricians?
  4. What would happen to other businesses that feed off people working in adjacent buildings, like restaurants and such?
  5. Are the majority of people self disciplined enough to work effectively when there are distractions around?
  6. Do people have the space to have one or two (or more) dedicated office spaces in their home? (consider families as well as those in a roommate situation)
  7. How does an entry level worker learn their job well?
  8. How do you network?
  9. How do you learn what other jobs are out there? (think of this- when kids are in college, they often don’t know what they want to be because they lack exposure to the kind of jobs that exist. Once you begin working, your ability to see what that guy over there does becomes non existent because that guy over there is your  houseplant
  10. Will promotions be based solely on your work output with no regard to how well you interact with others?
  11. Are skype interviews really the best way for all things?
  12. Some places (rural) do not have quality internet- how can one work from home without reliable day to day internet access
  13. What about people who live in areas where internet service goes down easily?
  14. How much of you personal information do you want exposed on someone’s non secure internet line?
  15. What would it like for people if they had no human contact with others throughout the day?
  16. How many relationships would fall apart just because familiarity breeds contempt?
  17. Would peoples bad habits (like workaholic or lazy) be exacerbated because they have no boundaries?

These are just a few of the cons that I have. Would love to hear the pros to my cons…

100 thoughts on “Doce- Work from Home?

  1. Pros.. no office gossip or romance. No colleagues with annoying sounds or habits. No timed breaks. Casual Friday every day. No commute- time, and money saver. No office bug to spread around. Higher wage if employers save money by not supplying workspace.

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  2. I keep thinking how teachers of especially elementary children will manage to navigate the inevitable slow and gradual return to the classroom. Will physical distancing be a thing that promotes WFH as much as possible regardless, going forward now? How will this work with the existing space of the school buildings now?

    What I see is a 50/50 or some variable opportunity to do both for children who are technologically involved anyway. As soon as they become a member of google classroom (my daughter started around grade 4 I think, she’s my younger one) they could, technically, do some work from home (a relaxed sort of homeschooling). The pro would be more space for teachers with younger children to do in-class work (half the class show up in morning, other half in afternoon, or every other day, IDK)…while the older kids do certain assignments from home.

    But is this practical? Will the parents have to be home too to supervise this? Because I would not want a 4th grade to stay home alone while both parents work outside of the home (say, in a hospital, or school, or food industry etc). So is this a con then?

    I don’t know.

    The line between home and work is tough to manage too. Not everyone lives in a McMansion. If the rec room/ home office has to be shared by a kid/student and a WFH adult…if you’re in a small apartment/condo, or sharing rooms with roommates/multi-generational families…it’s not feasible. It just isn’t.

    Main pro of course is the commuting that takes up too much time, energy, and money (not to mention pollution) would reduce or disappear.

    Main con would be staying home takes away from the social aspect. Many (not all) will eventually admit to missing the actual, physical meet-ups, the lunch dates, the whole atmosphere. A happy medium is possible, but how many people were willing to give it a try before? How many of those who didn’t want to, do now?

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    1. I think we have to be real careful on how we forge ahead. I don’t think kids being schooled at home is the right thing at all. My daughter has adapted, but many kids are struggling. What if a kid has learning issues? There are myriad reasons for kids to go to school? I think it becomes like that movie wall-e….

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  3. One slice of the issue, and a simple response: “Why is it always ‘either/or’ why can’t it be ‘in addition to’?” Pros and cons to both. The trouble begins when it becomes a ‘one size fits all’…

    In many instances one or the other aren’t feesible at all. As in, large numbers of workers have jobs that are literally hands-on ie-housekeepers, gardeners, performing artists, kids learning – many styles of learning, that virtual teaching can’t provide – oh yes, and how about special needs adults/kids/etc., and then there’s always the healthcare profession…

    But even if one has a job in a profession that literally could be done 100% remotely, at home and in seclusion etc…all the time…How healthy is that in Real Life? Balancing the myriad needs of our selves is important to our well-being. You may need more or less of what I need, but it still should be available, regardless.

    ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ and creative substitutes for things like live performance, or perusing store aisles etc are great and fill the void especially during true COVID-19 lockdowns, but to become the only way afterwards? A contribution to what’s possible, yes, and adapted into the everyday, yes. But as a 100% replacement? Too casually dismissive of what it’s replacing.

    Just my two cents’…

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    1. I think too much of anything is bad….everything in moderation. And I didn’t even mention the aspects of working from home and dealing with young kids….that’s a psychological experiment waiting to happen

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  4. Many, many jobs are not office jobs so this is not even an option for a large portion of society. I think this topic brings up a more scary and not talked about issue, that many jobs can be eliminated completely and the world still keeps revolving. Corporations can afford to hire ‘extra’ workers in good times and they do. But in bad times, they cut, cut, cut. With more automation and the internet, fewer workers are needed. What is always needed is skilled labor to build and maintain buildings, roads, etc, and medical personnel. They can’t work from home. Of course sales people, account managers etc can work from home, but it may be more efficient for certain types of businesses to be in the same building together. It seems like online meetings don’t work that well.

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    1. Online meting are very iffy, because even though we have good internet, both my husband and daughter have lost connections to work and school, and then you miss stuff. It’s also harder for someone who’s quieter by nature to get involved and you can’t read physical cues, which is a big part of communication

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    1. Converting office spaces to apartments would require rezoning and extensive renovations, and then who would live in them. I agree with the traffic, but in turn, that would mean reducing road maintenance crews, which would mean more people unemployed . There’s balances to everything

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      1. Maybe if there were more apartments then less people would have to room with each other and decrease in demand which would lead to lower rent. Not mention a bigger quarter to work from home in. The maintenance, doorman, and janitors will still be employed.
        Investors would dive into renovations. I have a client that is literally drooling to take ownership of a few buildings.

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      2. I don’t think rent goes down. I think it goes up, because you have to make up tax revenue lost from offices no longer being there. What’s the tax rate on a office building? If it’s no longer an office, it still gets taxed, so the owner has to pay tax. They pay the tax by charging more rent. And for staff…Think of it like this. My apartment building has a staff of 8- 19 floors. A similar sized office building would have at least twice the staff

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  5. Very thoughtful questions. I’m going full pie in the sky here. Convert the empty office buildings to housing for the homeless. Redefine “work” to include creating art, music, poetry. Live with less and take care of our own living spaces, kids, parents, yards, instead of (under) paying others to do this for us. Volunteer more.

    I have worked from home for years and and have lived all the “cons”: no retirement, no performance bonuses, no lunches, no chatting w/ colleagues, doing everything yourself from drumming up work, to actually doing the work, to billing, to IT, to emptying the waste basket. It’s not for everyone.

    I hope that after we emerge from this turbulent and stressful time, we’ll be able to analyze how we can best retool our approach to work/earning/living, and arrive at solutions that offer the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

    Stay safe and healthy, all.

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    1. Who pays for the housing of the people? There’s no longer tax revenue from offices, and the revenue will be made up, which will be my taxing people more. I’m all for living smaller…I have a very small apartment, no car, we have very few things compared to most middle class people. And most middle class people mock how we live….I think there are pros and cons to everything. We just have to think clearly about them

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  6. Ahhh, you are asking questions that my profession has been grappling with always. It boils down to the ratio of SF to employee. What we are now internally discussing is 2 things (among many others): 1) how the whole “open office” layout is a nightmare in a pandemic and 2) with so many folks WFH, can companies reduce the amount of office space they need? Because real estate is one of the most expensive costs for companies.
    The consensus is that there will always need to be office space so people can collaborate. Humans tend towards wanting to gather together, so office design has been trending towards enabling that. Now we need to incorporate social distancing. Change – that is the one consistent trend. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You raise a lot of very good points here LA. I agree with those who said the main pro is the lack of commute. It’s definitely not for everyone though. As you said not every job can be done from home, not everyone will be as productive or has the space. I definitely don’t think someone can effectively wfh and homeschool it would have to be either or unless it was a very straightforward part time job perhaps. As you pointed out already something would definitely give if you were trying to do both.

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    1. Well, here’s the thing with commute….people choose to live where they do. It’s their choice to have a long commute. We chose to stay in the city mainly so my husband wouldn’t have a long commute. You have to decide what’s more important to you….space it less time commuting.

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      1. Trust. I live in 700 square feet and we split the living room in half for a second bedroom, we have one bathroom, and three closets. I have six small cabinets in my kitchen and 2 drawers. We just chose to live with less

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  8. Lots of good questions to think about. Some people already work from home, but it certainly hadn’t become the norm. Many jobs just can’t be done from home: you have to have boots on the ground from entry level food service jobs to cancer researchers.

    I want to weigh in on homeschooling. As a retired teacher, I can’t imagine all education being accomplished online. It’s not just the technical difficulties, of which there are many. There is much to be said of the human connection as a part of learning. For example, reading to your own children is as much having them physically with you snuggling as it is sound waves in the air. Teacher/student bonds are formed that encourage development of the whole child, something that can not be measured on a test. As for homeschooling, my daughter has done it with her two children since the oldest one was half way through first grade. They are now teens. She does it well and she works at it. It is her job. She is fortunate to be able, with some sacrifices, to be able to stay home with her children. I can’t imagine the stress and juggling that would have to be done to homeschool and hold down a full time job.

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    1. I don’t think homeschooling works as a large scale model. First off, my daughter is way smarter than me. There is no way I’d be able to give her what she needs to succeed. Plus, she learned leadership and cooperation in school, things that I couldn’t teach. I think it’s great that people have the ability to successfully homeschool there children. I don’t see it working out for most

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  9. Well, with the shutdown, air pollution has gone down drastically.
    I think that people who are working from home now would much rather be out and conversing with fellow employees, someone to bounce ideas off of when it comes to you, not waiting for a meeting. It will show some businesses that some positions are not essential or that during bad weather people can work from home. I think when this is over people might be aware that they have to work extra hard to prove that their job needs to exist. I am hoping we can go back to previous times but really those were not all that great for a lot of people. Employees working long hours and barely making it.

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  10. LA, as others have said, your points and questions are really good ones. I would not have liked to work from home. Although I’m happier than many with my own company, I value the sense of community and feeling that you’re doing something together that working in an office brings – or at least CAN bring. Like with all big questions, one solution does not fit all circumstances. Many people I know, including former students, have worked remotely for years now. This became a viable option in many IT firms maybe as long as 15 years ago. It has advantages and disadvantages. With global work, teams can be formed globally instead of locally, allowing for a broader perspective and skill set; those teams have been working the way the rest of us are suddenly teaching, meeting, and visiting with family and friends, for years. I think the main disadvantage has been figuring out when everyone is awake, since they span every time zone! But it cuts down on commuting, which saves 2 hours a day for many, as well as costs and pollution. And it allows people to live where they want to live; they don’t all have to live in the big cities. So, like most things, it depends. Personally I’m glad that I was able to bond with my co-workers in person instead of remotely.

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    1. I think it works for some. I don’t think it should be our long term goal though. I see many issues with it becoming the norm…mostly I think we all become more robotic. If we cut out human interaction, what does that really mean.?

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  11. I think some people are just made to be away from home and in an office while others enjoy the flexibility of doing both. So there pros and cons would more than likely be based on individual preferences or perception. I think some people are going to have to continue to work from home even after the restrictions are lifted.Some these kids who would normally be in school would have to be supervised. Camps in the summer probably won’t open this year. It’ll be interesting.

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    1. But how can you supervise kids while you’re working? I realize we have to do it, but both kids and work will suffer. Can you imagine having a five year old home while you’re trying to work?

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      1. My daughter has a four year old and a two year old. But she has done this in the past and has it down. It’s not easy, especially with phone calls but they get used to it and understand when to leave her alone. Disney+ is a help..:)

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  12. I live in a state where something like half the population doesn’t habe reliable internet service (rural providers…………), and the largest city has mostly high-priced service, so working at home wouldn’t be an option for many here. And besides, wouldn’t always working from home get tiring after a while? I just spent four of the past five days at home, and I was crawling up the walls by yesterday afternoon. I can’t imagine working from home all the time.

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  13. All good cons. I can’t think of too many pros in response to those, even though I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m starting to wonder now what my life would be like if I had gone out and gotten another job 19 years ago when the doctors retired.

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    1. I think we tend to act in extremes, without thinking of far reaching consequences. Every thing we do has consequences, both good and bad. People just have to learn to look at things from different perspective

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  14. I think if the best offer is working online, you take it and adjust. If you are a people person and like getting away from the house …yes it is challenging but you go with the times. You can’t always get what you want unless you are the Rolling Stones.

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      1. I like to think those who can work successfully at home with family and distractions about are more disciplined and organized and the people in the household gave them space to work.

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  15. For example, my husband is retired Army and then had a second career. He stopped working due to health concerns about 4 years ago. I am still working. It was very uncomfortable as I work from home part time also and on site. But he does house projects, renovates things, and keeps busy. Sometimes I get jealous but then I think of his contributions and him as a person and realize I am being short sighted. It is compromise.

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    1. To me, everyone working from home sort of makes us obsolete. Reducing human interaction is a bad thing. People think tech has ruined much. People working from home will drive us further apart. I understand why some think working from home is optimal…but I don’t think they’re looking big picture

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  16. One pro to staying home: no one at the office to interrupt you or drive you crazy. We’ve all had those co-workers. As a freelancer, I’ve worked from home for years. When my kids were little, I’d get up at 5 a.m. to work before they were up. Have to be creative.

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      1. Well, yes. But I can’t tell you how much time I wasted at work talking to people who were between assignments. It was particularly annoying after I had children and just wanted to finish my work.

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      2. I’m watching my husband deal with the people who work for him, and with him, and things are falling through the cracks because there’s no oversight. They have endless meetings, but there’s no accountability for actual work getting done. My husband works in a field where he relies on timely execution of certain tasks by different people. One person doesn’t get something done leads to seven people not getting something done, which leads to reports not getting filed at the right time. It’s very industry dependent, and those same co workers who waste time are going to be even worse unsupervised. But, since it’s remote, it will be more difficult to fire/put on warning. I just don’t see it as a model to go forward with

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      3. Very true. You catch an error someone is lying about something and you can’t call them on it because you only have their word. That is how I felt today dealing with someone from work. Sometimes you know someone is not telling the truth but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t prove it because you can’t watch them.

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      4. Well, that is why this working remote now… shows companies in what areas it “would work” and in what areas it “would not work.” It also shows “which” employees can be “trusted” to work remotely and “which” employees take advantage or remote working, which ruins it for others.

        It will be interesting to see how the work place changes moving forward. Companies will be “rethinking” a lot of things. 🙂

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      5. I think it is BOTH. Businesses needed to offer some flexibility to working parents, who have children in day care… at the same time, people cannot take advantage of remote working. I BELIEVE when this is done and companies want people to go back to work, there will be MANY who won’t want to work in office — this will cause A LOT of trouble, and we might see a last of “parting of ways” between employees and employers. NOT all personalities were meant to work from home. Let’s see how this unfolds.

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      6. I was a single mother, worked in sales from a home office, going into office when needed. As long as I performed, kept my sales numbers up — it was a win/win for both of us AND my kids VALUED having me at home to take them to soccer, band practice, etc. Kept them safe.

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      1. I’ve spent and enjoyable 🙂 10 minutes reading all your comments as I often do, lol my final word (for what it’s worth) the price we pay is a loss of human interaction, we human’s thrive on social interacrion.

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  17. Everyone shouldn’t work from home, because it’s not feasible, but it should definitely be included as an option, now, whereas before many companies and institutions forbade it. I won’t reiterate the pros, as I think others have a done a great job explaining several.

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  18. Great questions and interesting points. I have worked from home for many years and have realised the issues you mentioned. It takes self discipline and organisation. Having said that, I still think the points you make are valid across the broad population.
    With regard to empty office space, we are chronically short of housing in the UK. Repurposing offices for house – flats – may resolve many of the issues you mentioned.

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    1. But it comes down to rezoning space, and most places have established limits to how much housing can be allowed in areas vs how much commercial space. Then it’s making sure there are adequate schools. Then, who pays to redo the spaces into living units.

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  19. LA, you make valid points to the negative aspects of working from home. However, some of your qualms could be dealt with by changing the perimeters of the jobs. For insistence, maintenance and cleaning could be brought to the homes actually creating jobs for people and alleviating work for people who live in the home. Small businesses may not suffer as much if they are dealing with home-based businesses. Large businesses would have a harder time squeezing out the “little man”.

    With that said, however, I do believe people mentally need to be out in the world conversing with one another. We need to see others face to face to keep our sanity. And, as you stated, some people actually need that “other place” to go every day because they aren’t self-starters.

    I do think employers will be reevaluating the idea of some employees working remotely. I think businesses such as restaurants will be redesigning their businesses to accommodate who they serve.

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    1. There aren’t enough jobs as it is. Working from home would reduce that number. Essentially the largest problem we face is overpopulation…

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  20. I used to live in a small town. Over the years it filled up with office buildings. The make-up of the town centre changed too. Gone were the “normal” stores and they were replaced with banks (oh so many banks), hairdressers, newsagents, bookshops, and multiple food emporiums providing everything from sandwiches, salads, to takeaway hot food and sit down meals – essentially things which office workers wanted/needed. The difficulty was it was also the site of the area’s local supermarket, but office workers complained bitterly when it was used by non-workers because they had the time to browse rather than rush in & out. Too many workplaces can also have a negative impact on the make-up of local neighbourhoods.

    I don’t see a wholesale move to WFH for a number of reasons. Although the cost of premises is a large component, technical aspects such as providing a robust and secure network for that many staff is both complex and costly. I suspect a surprising number of companies are running on the bare minimum at the moment. It’s also a lot easier to monitor employees if they’re in the same location – it would incur a greater cost in terms of technology and time to manage huge numbers of remote workers.

    A number of large organisations in the UK have reduced their office space by having sections of staff WFH. But they’re usually the more senior and/or specialised roles, and generally have to spend regular periods of hot-desking in the office. This option could certainly be more widely offered. In normal circumstances, in order for people to WFH, it requires a support network being office based & I don’t see employers wanting to change this dramatically in the future.

    But the big one will be trust … or rather, the lack of it. While I think your list has many good points, it will all come down to what benefits employers rather than employees.

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    1. I think it’s totally industry dependent. My friends in banking and corporate law are at a serious disadvantage now wfh. But I agree, there are some roles that are easily transferred.

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