Cal Newport: Can Remote Work Be Fixed?

Can Remote Work Be Fixed?

From the blog of Cal Newport: Study Hacks – Decoding Patterns of Success
Read the blog here.

As we move on from spring and dive into summer, we enter the unofficial second phase of the coronavirus pandemic where it’s still unclear when or whether employees will be returning to their offices.
Some companies are fully embracing this newfound remote working lifestyle, but the great majority lag behind, afraid of the repercussions of a technical lifestyle that our work forces have never seen the likes of before. Yet, to protect employee health and reduce corporate liability, companies will have no choice but to allow significantly more remote work for the foreseeable future.

These last few months have proven that remote work is possible for a lot of us, thanks to technological advancement, yet only so many companies have found success in its implementation. In the past, where remote work has been an option rather than mandatory, it wasn’t a mainstream choice. The work industry is deeply rooted in the mentality that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, even though remote work has proven to have several benefits to ourselves, our industries, and even to our planet.
Slow acceptance of technology is not a new concept; we saw it happen when steam engines were begrudgingly replaced by electric dynamos back in the 1800s. Industries don’t automatically trust a new process, sometimes for good reason. But when processes begin to exceedingly prove themselves, it is up to those same companies to realize it and make a difference.

As of right now, we don’t know when it will be safe to return, but one day, it will be. We’ll eventually be able to ride commuter trains to our office buildings and sit at our cubicles only a few feet away from our colleagues, but what of all of the progress we’ve made with utilizing remote work?

Companies are growing amenable to the idea of lasting changes, but it will still be an uphill battle to combat earlier notions about remote work.
In the future, there are multiple possibilities: a larger percentage of workers can exclusively work from home, companies can establish smaller regional headquarters to allow fewer permanent offices, and larger cities can decrease housing costs as less workers migrate to them. There is great opportunity in what the future holds for us if we look to it as an exciting chance to improve work conditions and productivity. We have yet to see the lasting good it can do for ourselves and our world. At any rate, it would be a positive to see the long-standing doubts that have plagued our industries for so long begin to deteriorate.

For Cal’s extended essay as seen in the New Yorker, please read here.

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