At The Wall Street Journal, Robert Sutton tells employees and employers, working from home is here to stay. He writes:
It was mid-June, three months after the Covid-19 crisis had forced the top executives in a fast-growing tech startup to leave their offices and work from home. Executives had believed this “work from home thing” would last a few weeks, one of the company’s vice presidents told me, so they treated it like a brief emergency that required all hands on deck, all the time.
It was only when the vice president sent an email at midnight and got detailed comments from two colleagues within 15 minutes that he realized: This work from home thing wasn’t going away anytime soon, and things needed to change.
Every boss of a newly remote team whom I know admits that, like this vice president, they’ve been pushing themselves and their teams harder. A study conducted by one 350-person team at Microsoft Corp. found that in the four months after the team moved to remote work in March, employees worked an average of four more hours a week, attended more (albeit shorter) meetings, and spent about 10% more time in meetings. Fragmented “Swiss cheese” days became common as people struggled to care for and teach their children, and to meet other personal obligations. A “night shift” emerged: Employees sent 52% more instant messages between 6 p.m. and midnight. They worked more hours on weekends.
But while remote work isn’t going away anytime soon, such a crisis schedule must. Wise leaders know it is time to figure out how they and their teams can work remotely and productively over the long haul while protecting everybody from burnout. They need to acknowledge that teams must work in different ways with different tools, that there are new workday rhythms and new norms of behavior that need to be established and recognized, and that it’s important to ease the stresses on people that come with remote work.
As the CEO of a nonprofit told me: “At first, I viewed it as a sprint, then a marathon, then a 100-mile ultramarathon. Now I see it as a hard way of life.”
Here’s a closer look at how managers can run that ultramarathon without exhausting either themselves or their employees.
Read more here.