Three months ago, if your company didn't already have a clear work-from-home policy in place, expressing a desire to do so on a regular basis -- even if you held a job that could easily and effectively be done from anywhere with just a laptop and access to the internet -- would likely not have been met favourably.
Then we started hearing about COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.
And then we started hearing a lot about it. In fact, it was tough to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news and not hear about it.
People started getting worried. So companies (wisely) began putting measures in place to reduce the spread of the virus. Conferences were cancelled. Work-travel was restricted. And companies who had previously "strongly encouraged" employees to always work from the office began developing work-from-home guidelines and encouraging those who could* work remotely to do so.
So for many organizations, working-from-home was an undesirable policy they couldn't or wouldn't entertain... until it became a smart precautionary measure, at which point they figured out a way to make it work.
Necessity is the mother of invention, right?
But in a knowledge economy, it's pretty obvious that people often don't need to be in the same physical space to be productive contributors to the organization... isn't it? Perhaps we should ask ourselves why it took the scare of a global pandemic for some otherwise smart companies to realize the nature of some work -- and how we are able to complete it -- has changed over the last two decades.
At some point, COVID-19 will be behind us.
And when it is, I hope companies will realize the measures they put in place out of fear could work just as well in the absence of it.
Until then, wash your hands, people.
* I freely acknowledge not every job can be completed offsite. Furthermore, I realize that unfortunately, epidemics like COVID-19 disproportionately impact the economically-disadvantaged among us who are more likely to work jobs that require one to be physically present; think restaurant servers, retail staff, and assembly-line workers, to name but a few examples.