beilock1_Miguel PereiraGetty Images_working from home Miguel Pereira/Getty Images

Managing Well in the Work-From-Home Era

Managers owe it to their employees to stop treating work from home like a luxury. The office wasn’t invited into the home. It turned up like an unexpected guest – and it shows few signs of leaving soon.

NEW YORK – Many managers are treating this year’s pandemic-induced shift to work from home as though it were standard telecommuting. But it’s not, and operating under the assumption that it is can ultimately harm employees’ morale. While office workers are typically faring better than essential workers during the pandemic, the abrupt shift to remote work was jarring, and its effects should not be overlooked.

Leadership experts and cognitive scientists can attest that resistance to change is less about the change itself and more about losing control and fear of uncertainty. Humans – and other animals, for that matter – respond defensively when the power to make decisions about their own lives is removed. And in a recent study on COVID-19 and mental health, researchers found that adults surveyed in the United States and five European countries who believe that other people or random chance mostly dictates what happens to them also report greater symptoms of depression.

There’s a big difference between choosing to telecommute and suddenly being forced to work from home. While eliminating the daily commute has been nice, the average office worker simply wasn’t mentally or financially prepared to turn their home into a makeshift WeWork location while also taking on previously outsourced teaching, childcare, and eldercare duties. Many families do not live in homes that can easily accommodate telecommuting, and some employees’ domestic arrangements are not conducive to success.

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