Distanced – But Not Disconnected

February 25, 2021

According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2028 almost three quarters (73%) of teams will have remote employees. One thing that we’ve learned during the global pandemic is that having the flexibility of working from home can be crucial for employees and employers alike. Assuming this is a trend that is going to continue and become more prevalent in the future, what should you consider when moving from an in-office job to being remote?

This past fall I was excited to be offered the opportunity to join the Executive Search team at GForce, but changing jobs during the best of times is a big life change that comes with a lot of questions. For someone who is used to being in an office and puts a high value on the working relationship I have with my colleagues, I had even more questions when I was not able to meet even one of them before taking the plunge. I decided to go for it and, four months later, I could not be happier. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

After I joined the team, one of the things that I was most thankful for were the meetings I had scheduled with different members of the team. Instead of randomly bumping into someone in the kitchen or passing them in the hall, I had meetings on my calendar with almost everyone in the organization. I didn’t have to leave these talks to chance but instead knew they would definitely happen.

While these were not the typical “meetings” I was used to, I’d argue that these virtual meetings were better. Instead of grabbing a coffee and a huddle room, I got to meet my coworkers in their home. In several situations I was also introduced to their pets, significant others, and other family members/friends (who needs to wait for an office holiday party?). Taking the office out of the equation seemed to make things less awkward and more free-flowing. I was able to learn more about the company and culture but also more about my colleagues personally than I might have in an office setting. My worries about a lack of connection by being remote were quickly put to bed as I think the virtual meeting may have fast-tracked things in many regards.

There have also been other perks that I hadn’t really thought of before:

  • I’m saving well over $100 a month in commuting costs
  • Speaking of commuting – I’ve reclaimed close to three hours by walking from my living room to my home office instead of taking the train downtown every day (that’s 60 hours a month – almost a full week and a half of work hours!)
  • By not eating lunch out every day, I eat at home and save around another $50 a week
  • Maybe not as quantifiable, but I have more flexibility when it comes to appointments (not having to schedule as early in the morning or later in the evening is great) and getting errands/chores done which frees up more time on the weekends to do things I actually want to do

The list could go on and on and it’s going to be different for everyone, but I think you can see the trend – this working at home thing isn’t so bad at all – even when you’ve never actually met anyone. Work on building relationships in new ways and focus on all that you can gain/save.

As the world continues to change, it’s key that we continue to change with it. Will we eventually return to the office? I hope so. As much as Sal and Hank, my rather vocal co-workers of the cat variety, will miss me, I can’t wait to grab a coffee and huddle room and talk in person (and prove to these people that I really am 6’5” – who jokes about that?).