On March 17, 2020 I told the employees of MakeStickers that everyone who can work from home should work from home. At the time we thought maybe it would be for weeks, possibly a few months.
In the summer when we decided we’d keep requiring work from home through the end of the year I still wondered if we were being too pessimistic. Many still held out hope we’d be able to have our annual company Christmas party.
As we head into the end of 2020, there’s a vaccine on the horizon. People might start receiving it before Christmas.
So where does that leave us? Maybe by the summer things will be back to normal, but we don’t really know. What I do know is that we will have gone at least 12 months of mandatory working from home by the time COVID-19 is a thing of the past.
Pent-up demand for being in the office?
There’s all sorts of speculation about how things might or might not “come back” after COVID. Will there be pent-up demand for movies, travel, and dining out? I think it’s very possible.
But what about the office. Will there be demand to go back into the office? My prediction: absolutely not.
But aren’t Zoom calls horrible? They are. Don’t you want actual human interaction? Sure.
Many have moved on
But here’s the thing: twelve months is a long time, and people adjust. Some adjustments can be undone — I brought my nice desk chair from the office to my house. I can easily bring it back.
But some adjustments cannot be undone. One of our employees took the opportunity to move from the Chicago area to Alabama. Once COVID is over she’s not moving back.
We also hired a few people over the last 12 months who are too far away to commute daily. We’re not going to fire them.
And then there are the countless small lifestyle changes people have made — and enjoy. After working from home for over 12 months, how many people could look their spouse in the eyes and say “Hon, I need to start going back to the office, so the family will see me for an hour less each day.” That’s just not going to happen for a significant percentage of people.