Is COVID-19 Introducing A New Normal for Work?

When dealing with a pandemic like the current coronavirus outbreak, keeping yourself and your family and friends healthy should be top priority! That includes “social distancing” and staying home when possible. Ask your boss about the possibility of working from home if you can.

With self-quarantine becoming the norm in the response to COVID-19, more employers are encouraging working from home when they aren’t laying employees off. This has inspired a few amusing memes, and certainly I understand the value of spending the morning in my pajamas on those mornings when I overslept by a smidge. Could this become a “new normal” in the world of work?

It’s certainly having its benefits. Regular unleaded gasoline is now under $2 a gallon in some places. You can get that Grubhub delivery faster when traffic is way down (and, seriously, local restaurants could use the boost right now). It’s pretty nice to not have to deal with rush hour traffic. You don’t even have to put up with that annoying co-worker who keeps bothering you with small talk when you’re trying to get work done. You just have to remember to lock the door to your home office so your kids or pets don’t bother you so much.

Why didn’t your workplace do this before? The technology exists. People hate commuting and they hate having to choose between staying home and going to work when they’re sick. The stats show that more than half of all companies allow at least some of their workforce to work from home and 16% of all companies allow all of their workers to work remotely. When most of your work is done on a computer anyway, it may be kinda tough to think of a good reason that you can’t do this more often besides the old, “We’ve always done it this way” syndrome. The only real losers in this scenario would be the owners of office space who would experience a mass exodus of tenants. (Really, WeWork?)

The only real cost to the employer would be setting up the infrastructure and the security needed to enable employees to work remotely without worry. Investment in a really good VPN is a must. NordVPN, for instance, claims to offer military-grade security for Internet traffic. Or, hey, just ask your IT guy what he uses because the real purpose of a VPN is to create a secure “tunnel” through the Internet from one place to another.

A desk like this one, seen on Amazon, can be part of a good work from home “starter kit”.

The only real cost to you would be finding a cheap desk, a good ergonomic chair, a decent computer with reliable Internet, and maybe repurposing that one room in your home that you never really use to serve as your home office. Sure, your bedroom could double as your home office, but that’s not very fun.

Hey, maybe you know someone who contracted COVID-19. It could even because they were one of those idiots who were all like, “If I catch Covid, I catch Covid.” Whatta maroon, right?

But you’re the smart one who is hanging out in your sweatpants while getting caught up on your spreadsheets. You’ll survive this new coronavirus and maybe you’ll start looking into freelancing because you like the idea of not having to commute. The technology exists. Fiverr exist if you’d rather try it first. COVID-19 may have just forced a rethink of the idea that, if you don’t commute to work, you don’t “really work”. And your bunny slippers that we all know you’re wearing right now may even agree.