The Longer We’re Isolated, the Less Productive We Get
COVID-19 is getting old - particularly for employees who’ve been working from home for months.
That’s the finding of a Wall Street Journal article, “Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn’t So Great After All.”
Early on, when millions stopped commuting and started working from home, many companies saw good results. Work was getting done. Most employees enjoyed it. Companies saw an opportunity to reduce future office overhead costs by making remote work part of their long-term strategy.
But that was before cracks began to emerge in the work-from-home model.
According to The Journal, initiatives now take longer. Hiring and integrating new staff is harder. Employees aren’t bonding or growing with each other. Efforts to collaborate online are going flat.
One CEO puts his finger on the problem: It’s “vital to have individuals in a room and see physique language and skim indicators that don’t come by means of a display screen.”
He’s exactly correct. Humans are social animals. We’re at our best when we collaborate face to face. Communication theorist Nick Morgan explains why in Forbes:
“(W)e share mirror neurons that allow us to match each other’s emotions unconsciously and immediately. We leak emotions to each other. We anticipate and mirror each other’s movements when we’re in sympathy or agreement with one another - when we’re on the same side. And we can mirror each other’s brain activity when we’re engaged in storytelling and listening - both halves of the communication conundrum.”
As a freelance writer, working from home for years, I find myself climbing the walls many days. Too much home-office isolation makes getting things done harder.
Though online meetings are helpful, I long for face-to-face interaction. The best ideas come from in-person brainstorming - as one person jots ideas on a whiteboard and others shout out concepts. You just can’t do that well in online meetings.