Many of the sales managers and reps I advise have commented that working from home during this pandemic has made them more efficient. This has come as a pleasant surprise to companies that previously had only on-site employees. Many companies are now moving to make a higher percent of their work force home-based.
David McGuire of the Forbes Finance Council reported in a July 31, 2020 article, Big Changes Are Coming To Commercial Real Estate Industry In The Wake of The Pandemic, that “Retail space is expected to see a major loss in demand in the coming years, with some expecting negative demand for up to 13 quarters. A large percentage of workers are currently working from home, and many employers expect a great part of their workforce will continue to do so.”
What is contributing to the belief that working from home is more efficient than reporting to an office? Stephen Covey in his classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, offers some insight. In his Time Management Matrix, Covey suggests that we should focus on two quadrants for improved productivity. They are: Important and Urgent and Important not Urgent.
Of lesser significance to efficiency are the quadrants he labels: Not Important but Urgent, which includes interruptions, some calls, emails, reports, and meetings, pressing matters, and popular activities; and Not Important not urgent matters, like trivia, busy work, some emails and phone calls, time wasters, and pleasant activities.
In an office environment there are more opportunities to be distracted by unimportant work details. The longer we are away from the desk, the more time it takes to get back into what Cal Porter describes in his book Deep Work, as the un-distracted deep thought which is necessary for concentrated work. At the office, trips to the coffee pot, water cooler, or bathroom, where we encounter colleagues along the way, can quickly turn a 15-minute break into one that stretches into a half-hour. If we remain disciplined about avoiding the kitchen sink and laundry, there are far fewer distractions at the home office and more time for deep thought.
More Efficient Work Days
Technology has changed the rules and forms of business socialization and has been a game changer for the stay at home employee. Virtual meetings have become the norm, cutting way down on time spent traveling. The hours that would otherwise been eaten up by a long commute also add productive time to the at-home worker’s day. Increased time for deep thought and fewer distractions in the home office translate into greater productivity and more efficient work days. Welcome home!