Remote Working Is Not Working

Last week I wrote an article entitled: “The Problem with Virtual Trade Shows: They’re boring.” Writing such articles is, as you can imagine, a learning journey. So, one of the things that came to mind after I wrote it was just how much humans need personal contact. That virtual trade shows, with the best of efforts, are ultimately distancing devices that do not provide the warm, emotional connection for which we all hunger.

That thought was amplified by a Wall Street Journal article by Chip Cutter entitled Companies Start to Think Remote Work Isn’t So Great After All.” Mr. Cutter reminds us that two or three months ago, remote working was working! And working well.

That was then, and this is now. Here is how Mr. Cutter puts it:

Now, as the work-from-home experiment stretches on, some cracks are starting to emerge. Projects take longer. Training is tougher. Hiring and integrating new employees, more complicated. Some employers say their workers appear less connected and bosses fear that younger professionals aren’t developing at the same rate as they would in offices, sitting next to colleagues and absorbing how they do their jobs.

The challenge we are now facing is that maybe the technology is simply not there yet. I don’t know about you, but Zoom, with its array of heads, is simply no substitute for sitting in the room with other people.

Trade show providers are making heroic efforts to keep whole industries connected and functioning. Managers are doing the same with their employees. The tools and the art, however, are simply not available…yet.

Creating a virtual experience that replicates life calls for new artistic and creative skill sets. Those skills will not fully emerge until the enabling technology is in place.

The Coronavirus pandemic will end, and when it does, much will go back to normal. Until then, we will have to fumble along, making the best of the technology that we have. What will come out of this, however, will be new ways of connecting virtually, and that, along with the human touch, will take us into a whole new way of conducting business.

We just have to be patient.

3 thoughts

  1. I want to echo Lisa’s and Jessica’s comments as I’ve had a home office for almost 20 years…and love it! That being said, when we built our current home, we designed my office to be separated from the main house, with a separate bathroom and outside entrance, so when I need to be “away” from our fam, I can be.

    I do believe that the “Hybrid Approach” will be what we see our work environment evolve into. Time-splitting offices or work stations under the corporate roof and then integrating video conference platforms into our normal sales cycles. Less in-person meetings but more live video.

    One of the “Silver Linings” of the current situation is the increased face time with our buyers, being able to remotely demo our samples and make decisions in real time. Many of our emails and phone calls have been replaced by Zoom/Google Meets which is extremely productive.

    I will say that my sample shelves are overflowing, as we requested many more be sent to our office from our manufacturers for these Zoom/Google Meets…but I can always build more shelves.

    So, I’m disagreeing that we are “fumbling along” as it feels like we’re adapting to the current situation and with that evolution come some advantages and disadvantages.

    As always – thanks Richard for bringing topical conversation to our days. Have a good one my friend.

  2. I have worked from home for 26 years so this is one aspect of COVID that hasn’t been disruptive for me, but I believe 100% of this is true and I really feel for the folks who are used to working in an office together. We’re all longing for normal again.

  3. How about it’s not one or the other, a combination is a sustainable way to conduct business. Remote work is productive but remote work during a pandemic with kids not having school or childcare AND a complete upend to our economy/customer shopping habits (just think about the affect of retail!) is a different story than remote work during a non pandemic time. The fact that people are as productive as they are during a time like this is still quite impressive.

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