In March 2020, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone was facing new challenges. Employers in particular had to find a satisfactory way in which to navigate the situation, as personnel with school-age children, high risk health problems, or fear of the virus headed for home.

Over a year later, as the American workforce is returning to a more normal structure, habits of remote working are being solidified in many quarters. We now have more data on the productivity changes that arise from remote work, and we’re able to see where and in which professions it is more successful. Some factors that affect the ability of someone to work from home include communication skills, emotional intelligence, and lifestyle, as well as the company’s culture, structure, and systems.

That old adage “Out of sight, out of mind” really is true in the workplace. Without having technology and systems of communication in place, the only way a person will learn of something is if they are told in person. How and by whom an update is conveyed will determine how it is interpreted at the other end.

If you are leaving a job that allows remote work options, don’t assume your new job will allow the same flexibility, especially if that option is not mentioned during interview. And if they don’t mention it and you ask it could harm your job prospects. If companies do allow remote work options, they typically will require a certain period of time at the office for onboarding first, and they may require you to attend periodic in-office meetings.

We published an article in January 2019 before Covid where we discussed working from home in detail. Despite the increase in numbers of those who went remote in the construction industry with COVID, the majority missed interacting with others in person. Although teleconferences somewhat bridge the gap when a face-to-face meeting is not possible, it is no substitute for human interaction.

The more you are cognizant of what is needed to best accomplish your job and employer’s expectations you are more likely to be offered and succeed at working remote if a remote option is proposed. There are pros and cons with either, although the con of out of sight might make it easier for someone to part ways.

To your presence in the office or not,

Suzanne Breistol

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