Israel Hurtado
President
H2Mex
/
Expert Contributor

Working From Home: More than Hours, Set Goals and Results

By Israel Hurtado | Mon, 01/03/2022 - 16:53

The pandemic has impacted practically all aspects of our lives, mainly health and our social coexistence. However, one of the few good things that came out of the COVID-19 experience was the flexibility to work from home, spurring a reflection in the public conversation about how much and how we work.

We realized that we can work from home and be productive at the same time. Goodbye to the "old school" management of having to see people sitting at their desks and constantly supervising where they are and what they are doing.

The next step should be to work from home for goals and results.

Although laptops took work out of the offices for some years ago, mobile phones and iPads made work mobile. That made us more efficient but also began to erase labor borders. It was the beginning of the “mobile office.”

At the same time, we need to be careful not to erase the idea of what constitutes working hours. My perception is that there are days when we start working very early and finish very late. Sometimes, we start reading emails and replying to them right after we wake up, especially emails to and from people in other time zones.

The other day I had to participate in five meetings in a row via Zoom. I started at 8 a.m. and ended at 1 p.m. Was I productive? Surely, yes. Did I end up probably more mentally tired? I also think so.

In the past, it was very difficult to have five face-to-face meetings in a row, basically due to the logistics of moving between locations. Unless, of course, all your interlocutors agreed to come to your office. Previously, we had to consider the overwhelming travel times that, in Mexico City, can be crazy.

The loss of time, the pollution generated, the associated costs, the related accidents and, in the end, the lack of quality of life was brutal.

In the same way, I believe that we must be careful with the little time we have to process all the information generated in virtual meetings. It is healthy to pause to reflect and carry out the actions originated in the meetings.

It is also important to have relaxing breaks to de-stress and improve our performance. Let's face it, we all know that during their workday people check their social networks, talk with their friends or family and go out to buy a good coffee. They need those spaces for relaxation.

Another important issue is that with the home office, we had to adapt our homes to provide a space where we could sit down to work and participate in virtual meetings, make sure we had good internet and pray that our children and pets did not make noise or appear in the square of our virtual meetings.

But we must recognize the efforts that some companies have been making for some years to provide recreational spaces for their associates, from pool tables to reading chairs and hammocks to take a good nap.

An example is Google's “The Garage” concept at its Silicon Valley offices, where people can develop their creativity and disruptive thinking. Some companies are even "erasing" hierarchies when determining workspaces; offices have been redesigned to be open spaces without cubicles or closed offices.

A comfortable work environment is privileged: It’s like working in a Starbucks, with desks or workstations equipped to plug in and go, and with all the communications and connections necessary to get your laptop to work from there. But only CEOs or other high-level executives (C-Suite) have closed offices, mainly due to confidentiality issues that come up in the calls or meetings they have.

The coffee and food areas have also become privileged, with open and well-equipped spaces, so that “breaks” are also more like being in a Starbucks.

However, even these offices have a problem: people have to invest time and money to travel to those offices with the consequent loss of quality of life.

One intermediate option that could now work is coworking. Companies could look at intermediate schemes and work out agreements with coworking offices that have multiple locations to give people the ability to go work at an office close to their home. The ideal would be to be able to walk or bike to the coworking location that is closest to them and work a few hours a day there.

These intermediate schemes would have several benefits: less stress due to increased family life, greater concentration and work focus, better connectivity and technical support, and availability of equipment and managerial assistance.

It would also be good to consider the proposals that have been made for a shorter working week, from Monday to Thursday, even if the number of working hours on those days increases (I get the impression that, in any case, those extended hours are already being worked).

In the end, the most important factor is to provide people with a good quality of life and put them at the center of everything.

The question is: Do we work to live or do we live to work?

Israel Hurtado is a speaker on innovation and disruption.

Photo by:   Israel Hurtado