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In an article on Channel News Asia, husband and wife team – Gregor and Crystal Lim-Lange – and co-founders of Forest Wolf which is described on their website as a company that provides “future-ready leadership development & training,” gave their insights on the possibility of working from home (WFH) permanently.

After Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, made an announcement last May 12 (Tues) that they will allow a number of their staff to WFH indefinitely, a move that is primarily due to the Covid-19 crisis in their attempt to stop the spread in the workplace, it made many wonder if it’s actually something they want to do indefinitely.

But given that the world has had a taste of WFH over the past few months, people are beginning to notice that it’s not as appealing as they first believed. In fact, according to the Lim-Langes, this work from home situation has become the furthest from ideal.

They explain that human beings are what they call “social creatures.” They share that workplaces are actually not just a place where office mates can come together to collaborate, connect and share a meal, but it’s actually quite necessary for one’s well-being and mental health.

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Aside from that, the columnists also disclose that having a place to work helps employees have “clear boundaries” between their work place and their homes. They heard from the Director of Business Excellence at Pfizer, Rajnish Narula, who shared, “After working from home for nearly two months, I really miss the office, manufacturing floor and discussions with colleagues in corridors and the canteen… There is nothing like being in a meeting room together with a physical flip chart to get all the great ideas together and come out with a solution together.”

Meanwhile, Global Head of Corporate Communications at The China Navigation Company, Eleanor Tan, also told them that working from home lessens the chances of advantageous meetups that boost creativity. She explained, “Somehow a Zoom meeting doesn’t quite cut it. I have gotten stories from my newsletters just by serendipitous pantry conversations.”

And there are a number of other reasons why the owners of Forest Wolf also believe that WFH situations are lacking in “developing talent,” as they refer to it. They feel that work spaces usually provide the backdrop to realizing and honing talents in individuals, as well as giving workers a place to get together and share ideas. In their own words, “We know people learn best when they learn together.”

The channelnewsasia.com article also goes on to explain that the Lim-Langes did a survey that included at least 170 professionals in a variety of occupations, and the end result showed that most workers preferred to have a choice between a work from home situation and being able to go to an office. Only 17 per cent said they wanted to WFH essentially.

Again, they interviewed another professional, Principal at Hassell – an architecture, design and urban planning firm, Tamagin Blake-Smith, who iterated, “People have always wanted diversity and choice in their workplace experience. Even before COVID-19 hit, ‘work’ had left the building and social media had entered, creating a disruption in people’s expectations and a desire for new forms of leadership and social engagement at work.”

Gregor and Crystal Lim-Lange expound on the idea that technology has given the world the ability to work from basically anywhere, whether you’re in the car, sitting in a park, in a restaurant or anywhere you have an internet connection. Plus having a company or boss that allows you to WFH means that they trust you to do your job regardless of whether you’re in the office or not, making employees enjoy their work even more.

But again, there is a huge difference between being allowed to work from home, and not having a choice but to work from home. And the effect this has on a company’s workforce can either lead to great productivity or a lack thereof. This is why it’s important for people to assess whether working from home is really something they can do, and do successfully.

In order to properly assess if WFH is suitable for people or not, they offer what they call a “quick and dirty psychology-based checklist of questions.” These questions concentrate on seven different aspects like mental health, self-motivation, distractability, boundaries, home relationships, communications and support from bosses.

You can find the full explanation of the checklist here.

The Lim-Langes point out that while companies have no choice but to reformulate and rethink work arrangements, they must also watch out for the welfare of their employees. The whole point of their commentary is to encourage businesses to “take a more human-centric approach towards work, and value employee engagement and well-being as much as profits.”

In the end, there is no denying that a company’s success is truly only as good as its employees’ performance. / TISG

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