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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, major companies such as Google and Facebook have decided to enforce their current work-from-home policies for at least the remainder of 2020. Twitter, on the other hand, has gone as far as to offer employees whose position allows for the option of working from home forever. The news isn’t exactly shocking -- for years now, all three companies have been firmly positioned at the forefront of innovative work schemes, finding ways to make the best of new technologies that enable employees to connect from a distance. What may come as a surprise, however, is the fact that many other, more conservative companies seem to be following suit.
A couple of days ago, the Times reported that executives from Barclays, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley -- three of New York City’s largest commercial tenants -- consider it “highly unlikely” that all their workers will return to the office spaces they rent once the pandemic has subsided. Companies that were once reticent about allowing their employees to work from home, fearing a decline in productivity, have had their eyes opened to an undeniable reality: Remote work is not only feasible, but often even more convenient than the traditional office experience.
Amid the frenzy to report on which companies are switching to remote and under what circumstances, however, an important and necessary conversation has been largely swept under the rug: When entire teams start fully or partially working from home, what are the responsibilities that a company has to take on in order to care for their teams? In the past, many companies have given their remote workers monthly stipends for the use of their space and utilities. The intention may be noble, but the fact is, employees are far from experts on ergonomics or workspace design and, realistically, a couple hundred dollars a month won’t cut it to invest on proper equipment. And that’s just the basics.
There’s no reason perks like healthy snacks and dynamic coaching sessions should be thrown out the window just because there’s no longer a physical space for employees to convene at. Within companies, entire departments are dedicated to figuring out how to boost morale and build a healthy corporate culture that will attract new talent, and making the transition to remote only means leaders need to get creative with what they can offer their workers from a distance.
Make no mistake, there are bare-minimum requirements of what your team should be offered, but success is never the result of bare-minimum effort. Now that we know for sure that the tide is changing, it’s time to talk about what a society that embraces working from home will need to truly thrive.